45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hungarians had a great influence on conducting.
To understand Fricsay (1914-1963) we should look at the Hungarian musical background. Nikisch (1855-1922) the Hungarian conductor changed the profession from that of the image of a timebeater. He influenced the modern view of a subjective but authoritative orchestral educator, who was able to bring out all the musical substance from the score and the orchestra through...
Published 12 months ago by Ultrarunner
0 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Published 3 months ago by Per Fogdeson
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hungarians had a great influence on conducting.,
This review is from: Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1, Orchestral Works (Audio CD)
To understand Fricsay (1914-1963) we should look at the Hungarian musical background. Nikisch (1855-1922) the Hungarian conductor changed the profession from that of the image of a timebeater. He influenced the modern view of a subjective but authoritative orchestral educator, who was able to bring out all the musical substance from the score and the orchestra through long rehearsals. Nikisch was the mentor of fellow countryman Reiner who taught Bernstein. Before this, Reiner (1888-1963) won scholarships to train at the Budapest Academy of music, where he was taught by the great Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, whose work he championed.(REVIEWS BELOW) Also, Nikisch inspired the imagination of the young Hungarians, Szell, Ormandy, Fricsay (who died aged 48 from cancer), Dorati, Kertesz( drowned at 43),and Solti. However, Nikisch was the only role model of Furtwangler who stated " I learned the sound from Nikisch, how to work the sound out." He inspired, Abbado, Barenboim and Thielemann. Not forgetting Monteux, who was the mentor of the American Zinman. Even Von Karajan claimed a connection to Nikisch.
To fully understand the influence that these Hungarians had on conducting, I bought the DGG Berlin Philharmonic Centenary edition, so I could obtain the CD of Nikisch's 5th Symphony. Also Reiner's RCA, Fricsay's orchestrial recordings and Solti's Wagner Box sets. Along with the 107 CD Furtwangler(1886-1954) Legacy Set. Plus CDs of Szell and Dorati. But what of Fricsay. He went to the same music Academy as Reiner, and was taught composition by Kodaly and Piano by Bela Bartok. Fricsay also championed both these Hungarian composers, and his CDs of them are classics. Fricsay created a lean string sound and conducted the music with intensity. He was always listening, while he conducted with his hands, not with a baton. Reiner stated "a conductor needed to live a piece, heart and soul; he must feel intensely the music that he is conducting." This sums up Fricsay's approach to conducting. Fricsay illustrates how these Hungarian conductors put their heart and soul into their music making.
The box that holds the 45 CD's is made from tough cardboard, as is the slip case that covers it. The box is smaller then usual. The colours overall are white, red and grey. The tough slip case has on the back, wording against a white background; CD numbers, composers, music to be played, plus soloists. The box has a piece of protective foam at the back. The CD Sleeves are made from thin cardboard, and the CDs are easy to get out of the sleeves without splitting them. On the front there is the original picture, plus behind, the CD number, composer, music, track numbers, soloist and orchestra. The sleeves are very original, which can cause confusion. There are bonus pieces on many CDs, so above the front sleeve picture is the music to be played, but it may not be on the disc. For example, on CD 14 it states, De Falla's Nights in the gardens of Spain. However, it has been removed to CD 20. Look at the index in the booklet, if you become confused. This only happens a few times. Readers demanded original covers, now they have them. The CD is red, with CD number, composer, pieces to be played, soloists and orchestra. You cannot get lost.
The booklet has track listing. That is, composers, music to be played, soloists and orchestra, plus dates recorded. Pictures of the conductor. Essay's in English, French and German. Ferenc Fricsay-A personal view by Tully Porter. Ferenc Fricsay's partnership with DGG by Elsa Schiller. On tour with Fricsay by Yehudi Menuhin. A index with composer, music and CD number. If you wish to know more about Fricsay, you can download more information, there is a password in the booklet. Now to the sound. Although I have searched to see if there are any details about what has been done to renew the sound, I have found none. However, I am sure it has been remastered. On my new CD player, the sound is good, I have no complaints and I own many box sets. The sound seems the same as those with technical jargon. You may wonder why I give you, the reader, so much information. So you can make up your own mind whether you wish to buy the set or not. Personally, I like this box set.
I shall go across the page. Firstly, the composer, then recording date, whether Stereo or Mono, Music, soloist and orchestra, plus remarks from me.
BARTOK: (1961)STEREO. Piano concerto's Nos 1,(1960) 2 & 3. Geza Anda- Piano. Radio -Symphonie-orchestra Berlin. (1951) MONO. Violin Concerto No 2. Tibor Varga-Violin. Berlin Phil. (1954)Two Portraits. Rudolf Schulz. (1953)Dance suite. RIAS- Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.(1957) MONO. Concerto for Orchestra. Radio-symphonie Orchester Berlin.(1954) Music for Strings, percussion and Celesta. RIAS Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. (Grand Prix du Disque-Paris.) (1953)Divertimento for string orchestra. (1955) Piano concerto No 3. Monique Haas. RIAS-Symphonie- Orchester Berlin. STEREO. Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra. Geza Anda-Piano. Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The piano concerto recordings are rather special. Both Anda and Fricsay show a feeling for the music. It is very urgent. Fricsay has a total identifcation with Bartok, his former teacher. He uderstands its idiom and creates an authentic atmosphere. BEETHOVEN: (1960) STEREO. Piano Concerto No 3. Annie Fischer- Piano. Bayerisches Staatsorchester.(1961).Personally, I like the playing by Fischer with Fricsay. The largo is beautifully done. Concerto for piano, violin and cello in c Major. Anda-piano. Schneiderhan-violin. Fournier-Cello. Radio-symphonie-Orchester. This is very well played. With three great artists this should be so. Berlin.(1953) MONO. Symphony No 1.Dances in a Mozart manner. No 8. Berlin Phil. Swift tempi, as Beethoven should be played.(1960) STEREO. No 3 'Eroica'.Quick tempi and energetically played.(1958) MONO.Leonore 3 overture. Intense and swift tempi. HANDEL: Harp Concerto in B flat major. BEETHOVEN:(1962) STEREO. Symphony No 5 too slow. & 7. Gradually builds up to a climax in the last movement. Berlin Phil.(1958) STEREO. Overture to Egmont. Symphony No 9. Seefried, Forrester, Haefliger, Fischer-Dieskau. Berlin Phil. Full of vitality. The adagio is beautiful. The 5th symphony is the only one that Fricsay has made a mess of, the rest are worth while owning.
BERLIOZ:(1951-1953) MONO. Le Carnaval Romain.Orchestre Lamoureux,Paris. La Damnation de Faust. Ballet des Sylphes. RIAS Symphonie-orchester Berlin. March hongroise Berlin Phil. BORODIN: In the Steppes of central Asia. Prince Igor. Polovtsian Dances. RIAS- Symphonie- Orchester Berlin. MUSSORGSKY: Night on the bare Mountain. RIAS_symphonie- Orchester Berlin. (1960) STEREO. GOUNOD: Faust Ballet Music. Waltz. The mono works are superb.(1950-1957) MONO. ROSSINI: Overtures. La Scala di Seta. Berlin Phil. Semiramide. Il Signor Bruschino. RIAS-Symphonie- Orchester Berlin. L' italiana in Algeri. Berlin Phil. Tancredi. La gazza ladra. Il barbiere di Siviglia. Il viaggio a Riems. Swift tempi. RIAS- Symphonie- orchester Berlin. BIZET: Carmen suite. Ballet music. Radio- symphonie-orchester Berlin.Carmen suite shows what a fine opera conductor he was.
(1951) MONO .BLACHER: Variations on a theme of Paganini. Piano Concerto No 1. (Final) Rondo. Allegro. Gerty Herzog piano. (1956) LIEBERMANN: Furioso for orchestra. RIAS Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.(1963)STEREO. VON EINEM: Ballade.(1962) Piano Concerto. Gerty Herzog Piano.Adagio is memorable. Radio-symphonie-orchester Berlin.(1950- 1957) MONO. EGK: Little Abraxas Suite. French Suite after Rameau for large orchestra. VON EINEM: Capriccio for orchestra. HENZE: Ballet variations. FORTNER: Symphony. Finale. LIEBERMANN: Suite on Swiss folk songs. RIAS- Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. (1950- 1956) MONO. HINDEMITH: Symphonic Dances. HARTMANN: Adagio Appassionato. Final from Symphony No 2. Symphony No 6. VON EINEM: Dantons Tod. MARTIN: Petite Symphonie Concertante. RIAS Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Fricsay captures the intensity of the music and treats the pieces as if they were classics, which they are.
(1961)(STEREO) BRAHMS: Piano concerto no 2. Anda -piano. Berlin Phil. Anda brings all his Romantic passion to this music. Fricsay's conducting produces an emotional background for Anda's conception of this fine piece. (1962) Concerto for Violin and cello in A minor. Schneiderhan violin. Starker cello. Radio symphonie-orchester Berlin. This work still sounds fresh and warm. Fricsay shapes the work splendidly. (1957) MONO. FRANCK: Symphonic Variations. Margrit Weber.(1958) BRAHMS: Variations on a theme by Haydn. Radio-symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Symphony No 2. Vienna Phil.The 4th Movement flows like Furtwangler,whom he heard in his student days.Fricsay builds up the tension. (1953) MONO. DVORAK: Violin concerto in A minor. Johanna Martzy violin.(1959) STEREO. BRUCH: Violin concerto No 1. Morini's tender performance of the slow movement is memorable. GLAZUNOV Violin concerto in A minor. Both with Erica Morini. Radio-symphonie-Orchester Berlin.(1956-1958) MONO. DEBUSSY: Prelude A L' apres-midi D'un faune.Fricsay has recreated the sound world of Debussy. RIAS-symphonie-orchester Berlin. Danse sacree et Danse profane. Zabaleta -Harp. Radio- symphonie-Orchester Berlin. DUKAS: L'Apprenti sorcier. Orchestre Lamoureux,Paris. RAVEL: Introduction et Allegro. Zabaleta-Harp. Radio- symphonie-Orchester berlin. La Valse. Bolero. RIAS- Symphonie-orchester Berlin.(1953) MONO. DVORAK: Symphony No 9. RIAS-Symphonie- Orchester Berlin. Very Swift, not as emotional as the 1960 version. By then Fricsay was ill with cancer, from which he was to die a few years later. SMETANA: Ma Vlast. The Moldau. From Bohemia's Wood and fields. (1960) STEREO. Symphony No 9. SMETANA: Ma Vlast. The Moldau. Berlin Phil. LIZST: Les Preludes. Radio- Symphonie-orchester Berlin. Liszt being Hungarian, brought out the best in Fricsay.
(1957) MONO. DE FALLA: Nights in the Gardens of Spain. FRANCAIX: Concertino for Piano and Orchestra. Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Honegger: Concertino for piano and orchestra. RIAS- symphonie-Orchester Berlin.(1961) STEREO TCHEREPNIN: 10 Bagatelles for Piano and orchestra. RACHMANINOV: Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini. Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Margrit Weber piano. (1954) MONO. PROKOFIEV: Symphony No 1. 'Classical'.(1958) GLIERE: Symphony No 3.RIAS- Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. "There is no question of the composer offending the rules of Soviet realism". Penguin Guide 1977. Very droll. (1952-1955)(MONO) HAYDN: Symphony No 44.' Mourning'. No 48. 'Marie Theresa' No 95. No 98. No 100. 'Military' No 101.'The Clock'. RIAS- Symphony-Orchester Berlin. The slow movements have an inner quality that few conductors achieve.(STEREO) KODALY: Hary Janos Suite. Symphony in C major.Radio-Symphony-Orchester Berlin. Dances of Marosszek. Dances of Galanta. Hary Janos Suite. Fricsay puts his passion and intensity into these Hungarian pieces, by his former teacher.
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto. Schneiderhan violin. Radio -symphonie-orchester Berlin. LIZST: Hungarian Rhapsody No 1 & 4. SARESATE: Zacharias- Violin. HUBAY:Hejre Kati. Zacharias -Violin. Schneiderhan and Fricsay, combine to create a new look at a old war horse.(1961) STEREO. MOZART: Symphony No 29.(1960) No 39. Maurerische Trauermusik. Adagio and Fugue in C minor. Radio-symphony- Orchestra. (1960) STEREO. No 40.(1961) No 41.'Jupiter'.(1960) Serenade in G major. 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik.' MONO. No 29. No 35. 'Haffner'. No 41. 'Jupiter'. RIAS- Symphonie- Orchester Berlin. (1958)(MONO) Clarinet Concerto in A major. Geuser Clarinet. Piano Concerto No 20. Clara Haskil piano. (1960)STEREO. Concert Rondo for piano and orchestra in D major. Concert rondo for piano and orchestra in A major. Annie Fischer piano Bayerisches Staatsorchester. (1956) MONO. Piano Concerto No 19 Berlin Phil.(1957) Piano Concerto No 27. Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Fricsay's version of Mozart is worth the price of this set alone. He seems to capture the spirit of the composer.
(1955) MONO. ROSSINI: arr Respighi. La Boutique Fantasque RIAS Symphonie- Orchestra Berlin. The fun in this suite comes alive in Fricsay's conducting. (1957)RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade. Rudolf Schulz violin. Radio- Symphonie- orch Berlin.There is an intensity about this work that Fricsay brings to the fore. Here the conductor allows the music to flow in all its Russian glory.(1958) MONO. SCHUBERT: Symphony No 8. "Unfinished".(1955) SCHUMANN: Symphony No 1 "Spring." As the work should be played, quick and in the great romantic tradition.(1958) VON WEBER: Clarinet Concerto No I. Geuser-Clarinet. Radio-Symphonie- Orchestra Berlin.(1961) STEREO. JOHANN STRAUSS 11: Die Fledermaus Overture. Annen Polka. Kaiser-Walzer. Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka. JOHANN STRAUSS 1: Radetzky Marsch. JOHANN STRAUSS 11: Ander Schonen, Blauen Donau. Eljen a Magyar!. G'schicten Aus den Wienerwald. (1950-1953) MONO. JOHANN STRAUSS 11: An der schonen, Blauen Donau. Wiener Blut. Perpetuum Mobile. JOHANN STRAUSS 11 & JOSEF STRAUSS: Pizzicato -Polka.Berlin Phil. JOHANN STRAUSS: Die Fledermaus: Overture. Die Zigeunerbaron: overture. Fruhlingsstimmen. Rosen aus dem Suden. Morgenblatter. Annen-Polka. Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka. JOHANN STRAUSS 1 Radetzky-Marsch. RIAS -Symphonie- Orchester Berlin. These waltz's suit Fricsay style of conducting perfectly, bringing to the fore his rhythmic sense which could make the orchestra dance. MONO. RICHARD STRAUSS:Don Juan. Duett- Concertino for Clarinet, Bassoon, strings and harp.Geuser Clarinet, Fugmann Bassoon. (1957) Burleske in D minor for piano and orchestra. Margrit Weber. RIAS- Symphonie- orchester Berlin. (1951) Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche. Berlin Phil.
STRAVINSKY:(1954) MONO. The Rite of Spring. (1954) Petrouchka: RIAS- Symphonie- Orchester Berlin.(1963) STEREO. Movements for piano and orchestra. Margrit Weber piano.(1951) MONO. Capriccio for Piano and orchestra. Haas piano. Divertimento from the Fairy's Kiss.(1961) STEREO. Invitation to the dance. Konzertstuck in F minor. Margrit Weber. (1952) MONO.TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No 4. (1958) Swan Lake Suite. The sleeping beauty Waltz. The Nutcracker suite. Waltz of the flowers. Eugene Onegin waltz. Radio symphonie orchester-Berlin. Fricsay had a sense of the dance in his conducting, as these ballet pieces show. (1950) MONO.Symphony No 5. Berlin Phil. 1812 overture. (1953)MONO. Symphony No 6. Berlin phil. Fricsay had a feeling for the 4th-6th symphonies.With often fast tempi. The last movement of the 6th symphony captures the pathos. Violin concerto. Yehudi Menuhin-Violin. RIAS-symphonie-Orchester Berlin.(1953) MONO. Serennade for strings in C major. RIAS -Symphony- Orchester Berlin.STEREO. Symphony No 6. Radio- symphony- Orchester Berlin. (1952-1960)MONO & STEREO. VERDI: Overtures, Preludes and Ballets. PONCHIELLI: Dance of the Hours. Very quick tempi, with sheer emotional music making. Verdi unlike you have ever heard him. No wonder he was a fine opera conductor. (1964)MONO. FRICSAY at rehearsals. Ma Vlast The Moldau with a performance as well. Hope you like this set as I did.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile tribute to a nearly forgotten conductor + Secret Password,
This review is from: Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1, Orchestral Works (Audio CD)
For most of my life, Herbert von Karajan was the face of Deutsche Gramophon.
But this was not always the case - Karajan made his first DG recording in 1959.
For ten years before that, Ferenc Fricsay and the Berlin Radio Symphony
were the backbone of DG's postwar catalog.
Furtwangler and the Berlin Philharmonic made only a few studio recordings for DG
(most of the DG Furtwangler LPs we are familiar with were posthumous releases of radio broadcasts).
Measured by the number of recordings,
Ferenc Fricsay was the face of Deutsche Grammophon in the 1950s.
3/4 of the recordings are Mono, recorded 1949-1957.
(the Vienna Phliharmonic Brahms 2nd from 1961 is a mono recording of an Austrian Radio broadcast).
Friend Ultrarunner went to a lot of trouble to prepare a detailed listing of contents with recording dates.
See his review dated July 19, 2014.
Most, if not all, of Fricsay's stereo recordings have already been issued on CD
(see list at the end of this review).
Recording sessions were held in Berlin's Jesus-Christus Kirche:
Same place, Same team that recorded Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic from 1959 to 1974.
There is no indication in the booklet that anything has been newly re-mastered.
The stereo recordings sound fine, as you'd expect.
DG's mono recordings have never been sought out by Audiophiles, but these are honest transfers that do not hinder your enjoyment of the music.
Fricsay was music director the Berlin Radio Symphony (RIAS).
One obvious difference between it and the Berlin Philharmonic is that the Radio Symphony numbered about 70-80 players vs. 90-100 players in the Philharmonic.
70-80 players is what composers like Brahms and Dvorak expected an orchestra to sound like - on a good day.
(though I imagine they would have been pleased by Karajan's Philharmonic).
Seven CDs worth were actually recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1949-1960.
Furtwangler and Karajan agreed on Fricsay's merit as a conductor - One of the few things they agreed on.
- Six CDs of Bartok and Kodaly (Fricsay's teachers in Hungary)
- Five CDs of Beethoven, including six Symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic, recorded 1953-60.
If not for his final illness, Fricsay would have been the conductor of Deutsche Grammophon's first stereo set of Beethoven's Nine Symphonies.
(Karajan's famous set dates from 1962).
Fricsay was a sane Beethoven interpreter: The first movement of the Fifth Symphony is the only idiosyncratic performance in this box.
It may be the slowest on record (9:09 with the repeat), slower than Klemperer, and without Klemperer's clean articulation.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau "interprets" the bass solo in the Ninth in a very mannered style (and he's not even a bass).
Much more of Fischer-Dieskau is coming in Volume 2: Operas and Vocal Works.
Fricsay was the young baritone's preferred conductor at the Berlin Opera.
I am hoping for some surprises when Volume 2 is released next year.
- Five CDs of Mozart. Fricsay was famed Mozart conductor, but his stereo recordings with the Vienna Symphony (four symphonies) disappoint.
The orchestra has an unpleasant sting tone as recorded.
His earlier mono recordings with the Berlin Radio Symphony are much better (one of the great Jupiters on record).
- Four CDs of Tchaikovsky, including a staggering 1959 recording of the Pathetique.
- Four CDs worth of Contemporary (c.1950) German, French and Swiss music.
- CD 45 is devoted to a 1960 rehearsal of Smetana's "Moldau" with the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra.
Nice, but I suggest you investigate: In Rehearsal & In Concert [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Video version of the same rehearsal, plus English subtitles.
Also recommended is the video documentary: Music Transfigured: Remembering Ferenc Fricsay [DVD]  
Fricsay had an unusual conducting technique.
No baton, and he waved both arms about frantically, like a big ungainly bird trying to take off.
But once he was in flight, it was beautiful.
45 CDs in a 10 x 13 x 13 centimeter box
Original jacket format for the front of each jacket, with track listing on the back (no program notes).
CDs are presented in more-or-less alphabetical order (Bartok through Verdi).
110 page booklet with index to the music on the CDs.
Three brief articles (9 pages total) by Tully Potter, Elsa Schiller and Yehudi Menuhin.
Unfortunately, half the booklet is devoted to reprinting the track listings that already appear on the back of each CD jacket.
A 14 page essay by Lutz von Pufendorf (love that name) is available on DG's website.
A password (printed in the booklet) is required to open the article.
This essay is essential to an appreciation of the new Fricsay box..
In addition to a biography of the conductor, Pufendorf goes into detail about the contents of each CD.
This should have been printed in the booklet, instead of the duplicate 50 pages of track listings.
Anyone hesitant about buying this box should read the essay.
If only there was some way to give them the secret password.
Reading the Comments Section at the end of this review may prove illuminating.
Volume 2 (Opera and Vocal Works) = Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 2, Operas, Choral Works
These are the Stereo recordings, recorded 1957-1961:
Bartók: Piano Concertos 1-3, Rhapsody for Piano & Orchestra (Geza Anda)
Beethoven: Symphonies 3, 5, 7, 9 (Berlin Philharmonic)
Beethoven: Egmont Overture, Leonore Overture III (Berlin Philharmonic)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto 3 (Annie Fischer w/ Bavarian State Orchestra)
Beethoven: Triple Concerto (Anda, Schneiderhan, Fournier)
Berlioz: Marche hongroise
Brahms: Piano Concerto 2 (Geza Anda w/ Berlin Philharmonic))
Brahms: Double Concerto (Schneiderhan, Starker)
Bruch: Violin Concerto (Erica Morini)
Dvořák: Symphony 9 (Berlin Philharmonic) *
Einem: Ballade, Piano Concerto op. 20 (Gerty Hertzog)
Glazunov: Violin Concerto (Erica Morini)
Gounod: Faust Ballet Music & Waltz
Kodály: Symphony in C, Háry János *
Liszt: Les Préludes
Mozart: Symphonies 29*, 39, 40, 41* (Vienna Symphony)
Mozart: Serenade 13 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" (Berlin Philharmonic)
Mozart: Adagio & Fugue, Maurerische Trauermusik
Mozart: Two Concert Rondos for Piano & Orchestra (Annie Fischer w/ Bavarian State Orchestra)
Ponchielli: Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Margrit Weber)
Smetana: Vltava (Berlin Philharmonic) *
J.Strauss: Waltzes etc. *
Stravinsky: Movements for Piano & Orchestra (Margrit Weber)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony 6 *
Tchaikovsky: Waltz & Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
Tcherepnin: Bagatelles for Piano & Orchestra (Margrit Weber)
Verdi: Ballet Music from Aida & Otello
* Stereo remake of an earlier mono recording (both versions are included).
All recordings are with the Berlin Radio Symphony unless otherwise indicated.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Assessing Ferenc Fricsay, a conductor in a class of his own who is as modern today as he was in his own days.,
This review is from: Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1, Orchestral Works (Audio CD)
Having seen that 11 reviews had already been posted for this boxset, I was not going to write yet another one. However, once I read the reviews I thought I should like to add my own thoughts and comments to help any potential buyer make up his/ her own mind.
Fricsay's interpretations were always characterised by his amazing ability to conduct with an uncanny sense of style regardless of the composer he was serving. His Mozart was totally Mozartian ,so was his Beethoven, totally Beethovenian in style. Basically, he did not seem to impart the music with his personality to the point of spoiling it. In other words, his conducting could have served as a model for other aspiring young conductors. One can still marvel at Toscanini's exciting rendering of the Beethoven or Mozart symphonies but his conducting in my opinion, should be admired or enjoyed, but not imitated simply because his approach was simply too personal, verging sometimes on the caricatural or histrionic.This does not mean that Fricsay's style of conducting was plain and boring , far from it. His style was indeed personal enough and instantly recognisable by his love for incisive but supple rhythms, his preference for agile and dynamic playing from the string section.
His interpretation of the Rossini overtures on cd 11 is a perfect example in that respect . A direct comparison with Fritz Reiner who recorded the overtures back in 1958 for RCA Living stereo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in spectacular sound, shows some interesting similarities . Both conductors go for that incisiveness and attack on the notes, so crucial for musical expression but in my humble opinion Fricsay pulls off the superior version as he manages to bring that extra degree of lilt, abandon and spontaneity to the music, creating as a result that special extra dimension. With Reiner, one can admire the sheer perfection of the dynamics of the music and the cogent sound produced by the Chicago orchestra but with Fricsay one becomes totally immersed and swept away when listening to the Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra. Reiner was known for keeping his musicians under a very tight rein. Fricsay on the other hand gives here the impression that all his musicians are " all in it" willingly and happily, in a " rapport de complicité " as we would say in French.As a result the music sounds unusally fresh and spontaneous.
Another performance worth mentioning is his interpretation of the Mozart piano concertos no 19, 20 and 27 with Clara Haskil as soloist on cds 31 and 32. These recordings alone would justify buying the whole boxset. If there was any perfect Mozart playing ever recorded, this is it ! One does not know what to admire here, either the sheer perfection of Clara Haskil's playing or the deceptively simple but subtle approach of Ferenc Fricsay's conducting . Right from the start, everything falls into place to produce the definitive performance of these Mozart piano concertos in the same way as Callas recorded the defintive performance of Tosca back in 1952 with de Sabata, and Glenn Gould produced his unmatched version of the Bach Goldberg variations in 1955.
Another interesting aspect of Ferenc Fricsay's musicianship was his choice of repertoire which was nothing short of encyclopedic.In addition to classical composers such as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, he was not afraid of tackling the 20th century repertoire with composers like Strauss, Bartok and Stravinsky . Amazingly ,he also promoted the music of composers from post war Germany such as Blacher, Hartmann, Egk and Henze as though these were classics.
In the recording studio , Ferenc Fricsay was an ideal partner to have as he was always prepared to keep an open mind and listen respectfully to his soloists'views. No wonder, artists such as Geza Anda, Clara Haskil , Annie Fischer , Yehudi Menuhin, Erica Morini, Johanna Marty, Wolfgang Schneiderhan,and Janos Starker to name a few were so keen to play and record music with him. So, we are very lucky indeed to have in this boxset a testimony of such collaborations.
Unforunately,there has been a mix up with the printing on some of the cd sleeves. Ignore what the front sleeves say on CDs 14, 20,31 and 34 . The correct details appear at the back of these sleeves. In any case, if you are still confused the booklet itself should be referred to as the details of all the tracks appear in the correct sequence. The errors may have occurred as a result of last minute re adjustment to fit in some extra music. This will probably irritate some but I find this to be a minor quibble compared to what is on offer here.
Finally, more important in my view than wanting to have specific details about the mastering or re mastering of these recordings, potential buyers ought to be aware that DG has gone out of its way to track down and include here extremely rare performances only available in the past on 78, 45 , 25 and 30 rrp records as well as recorded public concerts given in Salzburg and Berlin among others. For that alone, I wish to award this set six stars! Needless to say, any serious music lover or avid collector should invest in this treasure trove before it becomes prohibitively expensive or disappears for ever from the face of the Earth. Now it's time for me to start saving up for volume two which will present in all probabilities his opera legacy. I can't wait!
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent presentation. Though re-mastering info is missing.,
This new Fricsay Complete Recordings on Deutsche Gramophon (Vol 1) is literally an answer to my prayers. I am an enthusiast for many recordings of Giulini, Bohm, Karajan and others, but Fricsay occupies a special spot . . . his music has given me several wonderful evenings . . . more than his fair share of my goose-bumps, tightened throat, and misty-eyed delight for the quality consistent with his performances. The extra biographical essay that is available to download with this (see last page of the booklet) explains a lot of why: the thorough preparation and rehearsal that Fricsay insisted upon, his musical devotion, and the unique partnership he had with the heroic Elsa Schiller, the post-war producer at DG.
I am showing a point deduction due to the absence of info about the re-mastering status of the recordings. It is strange that in recent years, DG, Sony, Warner (EMI) have all taken great emphasis about the re-mastering of new collections of vintage material, like this. Yet like the recent and excellent Kubelik edition, nothing is shown or advertised about the re-mastering of these recordings. There is a 2014 copyright listed for the music in the booklet, perhaps that is a clue that it might have been re-mastered, but we should not have to guess. I have compared some of the new collection versus earlier versions I had which were NOT re-mastered (OIBP): ie. the Mozart Symphony set "Two-Fer" or CD-Double produced by PolyGram France in 1992, and the Brahms Piano Concerto #2 also issued by Universal Classics France in 2005. In these two comparisons, there is notable improvement in the high frequencies that I believe that I perceive, so this implies at least some of the 45 CD's in the new set are re-mastered. The Bartok Dance Suite (CD 2) sounds distinctive, but I had no prior comparison version for that, nor the splendid Annie Fischer performance of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 on CD 5.
On the other hand, the comparison went negative on the Beethoven symphonies. I compared with the "Tower Records Vintage" set issued by DG Japan in March 2013, which indicated that it was based on a 24bit / 192kHz re-mastering: and I am sorry to report that the versions in this new box lack the sparkle and high definition of the Tower/DG Japan versions. I have not had a chance to listen to most of the other 45 CDs in the new box, and will add or edit my review as that progresses.
Each CD has original covers as can be seen in the advertisements, and I am pleased to report there is full track information on the back of each CD cover. The vintage photos, and good essay by Tully Potter are very much appreciated, covering an artist who holds a special spot in my heart. But do not miss that extra download mentioned on the last page of the booklet, which has much more delicious detail.
I will keenly look forward to next year's volume two, which will bring the operas and vocal works. I am hoping that the Figaro in that box gets re-mastered. (Maybe for completists you should also throw in the Cosi conducted by Jochum in 1963, using Fricsay's cast, after his death?) Otherwise, we already have good OIBP versions of the Don Giovanni, Zauberfote, and many others. But it will sure be welcome too. Thanks, DG !!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Collector's Item,
I won't attempt to give a detailed review, as this has already been done very adequately. But my summary would be that this is a box set full of the most intense music-making, and a superb collector's item; indeed, it is one of the most rewarding issues to have appeared this year. The recordings are excellent for their time, and there is no need to worry that many are in mono - the standard is superb throughout.
My favourite disc of all would have to be Fricsay's stunning first recording of Dvorak's 'New World' symphony, set down in 1953 and here released for the first time on CD. I have been familiar for years with this performance in its LP format (on the Heliodor label), and its re-appearance is long overdue. It is simply the most exciting performance of this work that I have ever heard, much more so than Fricsay's later performance. The mono recording is magnificent also, with a very wide dynamic range. Not to be missed.
Much else in the box is rewarding, as I have indicated, but for me this Dvorak performance stands out - as does the recording of Gliere's Symphony No. 3 - mono again, but amazingly detailed for such a complex work.
My advice would be to purchase this very reasonably-priced set while it is available - it is an issue for the true connoisseur.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am happy to have on CD Annie Fischer's only DG recording ...,
I have been waiting for the reissue of some of these items for over 30 years and now they have appeared. In particular, I am happy to have on CD Annie Fischer's only DG recording (Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto and the two Mozart Rondos) and the first version of the Pathetique Symphony (in mono).
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... astounding set and all for the price of a good seat at the Festival Hall - but you will ...,
This is an astounding set and all for the price of a good seat at the Festival Hall - but you will not these days hear this music played with such intensity and integrity. Having got to know many of these recordings through their LP Heliodor fake stereo incarnations I am pleasantly surprised by the honest and detailed engineering they received at the time and the re-mastering of the mono recordings is exemplary. There are so many wonders here that it is difficult to know where to start but the Tchaikovsky Symphonies have always been favourite recordings along with the Stravinsky ballets and the Bartok recordings which knock out most of the competition. Fricsay was a genius and the music making comes through the speakers with immediacy and as though it was minted yesterday. I can't wait for the the next volume of choral works and the opera recordings.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ferenc Fricsay, loud and clear...,
Ferenc Fricsay, like all great conductors, was a great communicator; he was able to extract sounds from a music score which only a true master is able to communicate to his orchestra. Fricsay had such promise, such potential and yet he achieved greatness in his relatively short life - genius, in fact! This box is bursting with music, with joy, with life! And Ferenc Fricsay was a force of Nature...
6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ferenc Fricsay... Who.I do not know who he is........,
Fricsay who is he.I have heard of him.I bought this box set on the excellent and detailed review of ultra runner.When I received the box set,the 1st cd I played was Beethoven symphony Number 5.Yes it is one of the slowest and really enjoy it and I compare it with the highly recommended version of Carlos Kleiber which is just over 32 minutes but Feneric Frcsay last 40 minutes.I really enjoy it and it was slow and very melodious and not an irrational on the ears as I listen to CD via headphone.The mono CD is without hiss.I have listened to few cd and has not been disappointment.The Bartok music on 4 cd are beyond compare and they are benchmark recording.Listen to the 2nd and 3rd piano concert on on CD 1 and you will not believe what you are hearing. The timing of the CD are very generous.This is a box set to treasure.I will a detailed review later.Highly recommended and can you repeat Ferenc who you mean Ferenc Fricsay yes I have heard of him sound like Toscanni with better sound and more involved with the music he conduct.
3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music, lousy outer packaging, cheap and nasty, black and white photo with tawdry bright red graphics.,
I will eventually obtain this set no doubt, but the design department of the DG or whoever, record company need hauling over the coals, so to speak for their absolutely rubbish design of the outer packaging. As a graphic designer for 40 years I have strong opinions on the way these tawdry visual packages are presented to the public.
The original sleeve designs used on the inside have far more dignity and correct visual presence than the abysmal outer.
Ok, it doesn't affect the quality of the music thankfully.... Fricsay was so obvious an amazing talent, having survived the persecution during the war only to end his life 20 years later ( to the anniversary of Pearl Harbour) 7 th December ....
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Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1, Orchestral Works by Ferenc Fricsay (Audio CD - 2015)
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