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Recordings from one of the great cult labels.,
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This review is from: The Westminster Legacy (DG box set) (Audio CD)
"40 CDs of legendary recordings, several of them new to CD" states the advertising on the lid of the thick card board box. Gently pull it off because it is glued on.There is no doubt that there are jewels to be found in this box set.(see my CD reviews further on).Behind the box is the composers name and the music to be played.The lid opens backwards;yet inside the thick cardboard box is another glued in.The back end has a rubber bar wrapped in cardboard.The front end has a piece of foam to protect the CD sleeves,which has the original art on the front.Behind on a light grey background,the CD number is in white.The music to be played,composer and artist,orchestra and conductor involved, printed in black.There are single sleeves,also double sleeves which has Stereo, composer and music to be played printed on the spine.Five double CDs.The CDs are easy to get out.All the CDs are bright red,with CD number and composer and music to be played printed in white.The box set is very light,about the size of EMI Eminence and Ashkenazy 50 years on Decca box sets.This is important information,because some boxes are made with thin cardboard, which do fall apart. DGG issued this release.
There is a 100 page booklet containing information about the history of the Westminster label,in English and French and German.Many previously unpublished photos. Also,CD numbers,music to be played,conductor and artists.Index at the back,composer,music plus CD number. Well thought out. Limited edition. They are not joking. I have seen CDs in a box set,each 2 pounds,sold singularly for twelve pounds later on. Articles on the Chamber music,conductors and pianists and vocalists.No English translations of songs and opera.Also,an essay on "natural balance"describing what it means, with words such as 30HZ to 10 Khz and decibels,which will delight the tech heads.I am not one.Founded in 1949,by 1965 Westminster had ceased operations. The sound is good and in mono and stereo.I use Sennheiser 170 earphones,with a digital CD player.Best way to hear CDs,keeps the neighbours happy.
I am going to go across the page,instead of downwards, so as to save space. I hope you understand. I will place the CD number,composer,Mono or Stereo,date recorded,music,artists and comments from myself, which I shall indicate with T,plus the Penquin Classical Guide 1977.I hope you enjoy this set as much as I have.
There is some history contained in this set as I shall explain.Pierre Monteux(1875-1964)was born raised and trained in Paris. Monteux was influenced by the Hungarian Artur Nikisch,(1855-1922) conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus concerts and the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra from 1895-1922. He was a mentor to fellow Hungarian Fritz Reiner and was the only conductor Furtwangler learned from. Another surprise is that Nikisch influenced Boult as well,who conducted the premiere of Holst's Planet suite. Monteux made his reputation as conductor of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes;between 1911 and 1914 he presided over the World premieres of Stravinsky's Petrouchka(which he conducts on RCA Living stereo Classical Box set)and Rite of Spring,plus Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe. Hans Knappertsbusch(1988-1965)was a assistant to Richter and Siegfried Wagner at Bayreuth. Hans Richter (1843-1916) premiered the Ring cycle August 1876 Bayreuth,Brahm's 2nd and 3rd,Bruckner's 1st,3rd,4th and 8th Symphonies.
Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966)left Germany in 1933 after being chief conductor of various orchestras. Collegium Musicum Winterthur(Switzerland) 1922-1947. USA debut 1964.Premiered one of Dallapiccola's and Henze's operas.Boulez the enfant terrible of modern music,stated "I did not want to conduct.But it was a neccessity because all the people conducting modern contemporary music were German first-such as Scherchen-and were of the older generation,for the music of my generation we wanted someone connected to us,so I began to conduct". Egon Petri was a Busoni protege. Busoni is known for the opera Dr Faust.Kurt List who became music director of Westminster,was a pupil of Alban Berg. Conductor Maurice Abravanel was a Berlin student of Kurt Weill. He conducted in Germany until 1933,when he was recommended to the Met by Furtwangler and Walter.Then eventually Abravanel became the music director of the Utah orchestra from 1947-1979.
There is a certain logic to this set,symphonies are generally placed together,as are chamber works etc.(CD 1) BEETHOVEN: Stereo.1958.Symphony No 3 & 6.Vienna State Opera Orchestra cond Scherchen.Lebrecht states that four of Scherchen CDs were with the Vienna Philharmonic,not the Vienna State opera orchestra.He does not explain why this is so.(CD 2)1954.Mono.Symphonies No 2,4,8.Royal Philharmonic orchestra cond Scherchen."Shawe-Taylor found the Second and Eighth Symphonies 'intensely lively'.Greenfield thought the Second 'generally the best version'.The Third and Fourth have many admirers but the Sixth still splits opinion;is the first movement too fast?.In Beethoven,Scherchen caused considerable comment:his tempi often came up to the controversial metronome markings".For example,Toscanini whose tempo's are fast,3rd symphony 4th movement,(1949) 11.11. Scherchen 10.21.His Beethoven is a revelation to me, especially the Ist & 4th movement, 6th Symphony.A jewel.-T.(CD 3) BEETHOVEN:Stereo.1962. 9th Symphony,London Symphony Orch.Soderstroem soprano. Resnik contralto. Vickers-tenor,Ward Bass.A master at work-T.(CD 4) HAYDN:Stereo.1958.Symphony no 45 'Farewell".In the last movement the players leave by saying goodbye. Symphony no 100 'military'. Vienna State opera orch cond Scherchen.The fast movements are, well,fast.The slow movements are slow. -T.
(CD 5)MOZART:Mono.1955. Symphonies No 39,40 41.Royal Philharmonic orchestra Cond Leinsdorf.This orchestra is Beecham's. Leinsdorf is known for his swift tempo's in Wagner's Ring cycle,Die Walkure 1940,Lawrence,Flagstad,Melchior.(Wagner at the Met).The cult Walkure classic Decca recording with the London Symphony Orch 1961,with Nilsson,Vickers,London and Brouwenstijn. (CD 6)HOLST:Stereo.1959.The Planets.VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasia on Greensleeves. Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. Vienna State Opera orchestra. This is one of Boult's best recordings of the Planets-T.(CD 7&8) TCHAIKOVSKY:Stereo.1958.The Nutcracker ballet complete.A famous recording.Symphony No 4.Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Cond Artur Rodzinski,who always kept a gun in his dress suit pocket.The good news is,that he never shot anyone.Booklet.
(CD 9&10)BRUCKNER: Stereo.1963.Symphony No 8."Knappertsbusch is a persuasive Bruckner conductor"Penguin Guide 1977."He uses the Joseph and Franz Schalk brothers edition,who believed they could give Bruckner a helping hand, by changing the orchestration which the average listener might find difficult. Then in 1934 Robert Haas of the Bruckner society, began to get rid of the dross, so the symphonies could return to their original form.In 1951 Leopold Nowak carried on the work." The new scores were published.Even so,there are still problems. The tempi in the 8th are quicker then we are used to with "Kna' as he was called.The Adagio is truely spiritual,and Kna has got right inside the music and become a part of it.This is another of my jewels.Which means that this CD is worth the price of this box set.-T. WAGNER:1962.Stereo. Lohengrin prelude Act 1. Siegfried Idyll. Parsival prelude Act 1.The way he conducts these pieces is similar to the great Phillips 1962 Live Parsival recorded at Bayreuth,with Thomas,London and Hotter.(CD 11 &12) MAHLER:1954.Mono. Symphony No 1.Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Cond Scherchen.1958.Stereo. Symphony no 2.Vienna State Opera orchestra. Cond Scherchen. Mimi Coertse soprano,Lucretia West.(CD 13) GLIERE:1952. Mono.Symphony no 3.(CD 14) BEETHOVEN:1960.Stereo. Wellington's victory. ORFF. Entrata. GABRIELI: Canzon primi toni a 8. Vienna State opera Orch cond Scherchen.
(CD 15)MOZART piano concerto no 20. SCARLATTI: Sonatas piano Clara Haskil. The piano concerto is played beautifully-T.(CD 16) MOZART:Stereo.1964. Piano concerto No 22. Vienna State opera orch cond Somogyi. Piano Sonata in B flat major K570. (1966)Piano Sonata in A minor K310.Barenboim playing the piano in his younger years.(CD 17) RACHMANINOV:stereo 1959. Piano Concerto No 2.Mono Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini. Lewenthal piano Vienna State Opera orch cond Maurice Abravanel.(CD 18) BRAHMS:1956. Violin concerto in D major op 77.TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin concerto in D Major op 35. Erica Morini Violin. Royal Philharmonic orch. cond Rodzinski.(CD 19) MOZART:Mono 1951. String Quintet in G minor K 516. String Quartet in F major K 590.(Prussian no 3) Amadeus quartet. In the Quintet "the Amadeus is a distinguished team and their set will give pleasure to their admirers.The Playing is both searching and spontaneous in the Prussian.This is one of the more impressive of the Amadeus Mozart records."(CD 20) BEETHOVEN:1959. String Quartet in C minor op 18 no 4. String quartet in C Major. Smetana Quartet.
(CD 21) SCHUBERT: Mono 1950. String Quintet in C Major. Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet.(CD 22) SCHUBERT:Mono 1951. Octet in F major.Vienna Konzerthaus quartet.Not to be missed-T. (CD 23) MENDELSSOHN:Stereo 1959. Octet in E flat major. Janacek & Smetana Quartets."An intense and well integrated performance. BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in E minor. Janacek Quartet."deserves special mention.This is very fine playing." (CD 24)DVORAK:1964. String sextet in A major. String Quintet in E flat major."American". European String Quartet.(CD 25)BEETHOVEN:Mono 1956.Piano sonata No 8. "Pathetique". Stereo. 1958.Piano Sonata no 23 "Appassionata".Mono 1958 Piano Sonata no 29."Hammerklavier." Egon Petri.(CD 26) Mono 1964. SCHUBERT: "Wanderer."Fantasy in C major D 760. Moments musicaux D 780. (1951)Impromptus.D 899.Paul Badura-Skoda piano.Fine playing which brings to the fore the beautiful melodies. Another of my jewels in this treasure chest of CD's.-T.(CD 27) FRANCK:Mono 1952. Prelude,choral et fugue. Prelude, aria et final.FAURE: 1955. Impromptu No 2,4 & 5. Theme and Variations in C sharp minor. Barcarolle no 6. Nocturne no 6. Jorg Demus piano.(CD 28)SOR Mono 1955. Guitar Sonata in C major. 6 short pieces. Etudes for guitar. Fantasia. guitar sonata in C major. TURINA: Homenaje a Tarrega. Fandanguillo. Rafaga. DE FALLA:Le tombeau de claude Debussy. VILLA-LOBOS: 5 Preludes for Guitar. TORROBA: Preludio in E major. Sonatina in a major. Guitar Julian Bream.
(CD 29)SCHUMANN:Mono 1954.Frauenliebe und Leben op 42. Liederkreis op 39. RESPIGHI: Il tramonto. Sena Jurinac soprano. Barylli Quartet. "Enjoyed great renown in its day.This disc whose return after hearly half a century is a matter for celebration.Glorious singing"(CD 30)Mono 1956. DUPARC:L' invitation au Voyage. Le vie anterieure. Extase. Testament. Serenade florentine. le manoir de rosemonde. La vague et la cloche. Lamento. Elegie. Phidyle.Chanson triste. Serenade. Soupir. au pays ou se fait la guerre.French Canadian, Leopold Simoneau.Tenor. Allan Rogers piano.A jewel. "It is a pity that Duparc's output for the voice can be accomodated on one record.One would give a lot for some more.This is the finest performance by a tenor of these rarefied melodies." IF YOU LIKE LIEDER (song) YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN The complete Schubert Box set,Singers from 1987-1999,with Graham Johnson.(see my review).Also,Schumann complete songs 1995- 2007,with Graham Johnson.(see my review).Many of the songs in both sets are in fact more beautiful then those that are now well known. BOTH box sets WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS. The book of Lieder by Stokes(see my review). EMI Schubert Lieder on Record 1898-2012.All the great singers.(see my review.)
(CD 31) BEETHOVEN:Stereo.1962. Christ on the mount of Olives. Maria Stader. Jan Peece. Otto Wiener. Vienna State opera orchestra.Cond Scherchen.MOZART: An Chloe. Oiseaux,si tous les ans. Ridente la calma. Un moto di gioia mi sento. Das veilchen. Maria Stader.Soprano. Jorg Demus piano.(CD 32 &33) J.S.BACH:Stereo. 1959. Mass in B minor. Pierrette Alarie. soprano.Nan Merriman contralto. Leopold Simoneau tenor was married to Pierrette. Gustav Niedlinger Bass. Willi Boskovsky solo violin. Vienna State opera orchestra cond Scherchen. (CD 34) MOZART: Stereo 1958. Requiem in D minor K 626. Sena Jurinac. Lucretia West contralto. Hans Loeffler tenor. Federick Guthrie bass. Vienna State opera Orch cond Scherchen.(CD 35-37) HANDEL:Stereo.1964 Rodelinda.Teresa Stich-Randall.Soprano.She is Sophie in the famous EMI R.Strauss's der Rosenkavlier. Maureen Forrester.Contralto.She sings in Mahler's das Lied von der Erde-RCA Living Stereo box set. Alexander Young. Hilde Rossel-Majdan. Helen Watts. John Boyden.Martin Isepp harpischord. Vienna Radio orchestra cond Brian Priestman.There is a genuine contralto in this recording.The tempo's are swift.The Authentic instrument movement did not start this trend. Wagner tempo's when conducting were fast,also Toscanini,Monteux,Szell and Reiner followed Wagner,Von Bulow and Nikisch. What the authentics introduced was a more leaner sound and discouraged slowness, which was creeping into the modern music scene; but also encouraging musicians to go back to the original score. Apart from this,the Authenic movement played works that had been forgotten.-T
(CD 38 & 39)BERLIOZ:Stereo.1962.Romeo and Juliet.Regina Resnik contralto. Andre Turp tenor. David Ward. Bass. London Symphony Orchestra. Cond Pierre Monteux. The tempo's are swift. A jewel-T.Symphonie fantastique.1958 Vienna state opera orch cond Rene Leibowitz.(CD 40)BELLINI & DONIZETTI:Stereo.1968 &1969. Linda Di Chamounix .Ah! tardai troppo.. O luce di quest anima. I Capuleti e i Montecchi eccomi in lieta...Oh!,quante volte. Lucia di Lammermoor. Ancor non Giunse! Regnava nel silenzio. Roberto devereux. E Sara in questi orribili monenti.. Vivi,ingrato,a lei d'accanto. La Sonnambula Come me sereno. Rosmonda d'inghiliterra. Ancor non giunse.. perche non ho del vento.Vienna Volksoper orchestra cond Jussi Jalas. He was the son in law of Sibelius. MASSENET: Manon Je marche sur tous.THOMAS: Mignon. Oui,pour ce soir je. I have broken up this list by giving it more paragraphs as requested.-T
REFERENCES:Ganzer,K. Anton Bruckner and his Interpreters.2000 EMI records. Greenfield,E. Layton,R.March,I.The Penguin Stereo record Guide 1977.Penguin books. Hamilton,D.The Met opera Encyclopedia.1987.Thames and Hudson. Lebrecht,N. The Maestro Myth.1997.Pocket book. Osbourne,R.Karajan and the Bruckner Symphonies.1989.DGG. Potter,T.The Westminster Legacy.2013.DGG.
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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jan 2014 09:32:09 GMT
A truly first class review. Also nice to read a detailed description of the packaging, which as you correctly point out is important, a set like this will probably be in your possession for many years.
Posted on 18 Jan 2014 08:08:07 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Jan 2014 04:29:45 GMT]
Posted on 25 Jan 2014 00:05:08 GMT
Excellent review - many thanks for your time and diligence!
Posted on 27 Jan 2014 16:41:46 GMT
There is no tax on paragraphs, nor do they cost anything. So, in future reviews of this length, make free with them, which will make reading your text less of a chore.
And, by the bye, it is customary to insert a space after a comma.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 17:31:01 GMT
Watch your back ultrarunner the Grammatikpolizei are on to you. Had your review been printed in the Sunday Times I may have agreed with J Forbes. However aiming such criticism at an Amazon customer review is, I feel, a tad pedantic and unnecessary.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 23:33:48 GMT
My comment was not about grammar, Bain, but about readability. Since the man had taken the trouble to write so much, it was a pity that he spoilt the ship for a happ'orth of tar. I found that I just couldn't read such an impenetrable wall of text, and I know I am not alone.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jan 2014 08:57:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Jan 2014 09:01:46 GMT
As far as I am aware, Forbes, not leaving a space after a comma does constitute a grammatical error. I have just re-read the review however, and find it perfectly readable despite any inconsistancies with the typesetting. It's not an English A level essay. It's a customer review, and as such it achieves what it set out to do, i.e. inform other potential customers.
Posted on 1 Feb 2014 22:02:01 GMT
John Fowler says:
One annoying thing about the orchestral recordings in this box is that so many of them have already been released by Universal (or their previous owner, MCA).
(Not to mention the big Korean box, which I can't afford).
There are a lot of Scherchen and Rodzinsky recordings, mostly mono, that await official release in the West.
Thje only rarities I see on this list are the Gliere Illya Murametz Symphony, and Beethoven Wellington's Victory, both conducted by Scherchen.
Seems like a missed opportunity.
Posted on 2 Feb 2014 15:33:32 GMT
John Fowler says:
Unless you are a masochist, you probably won't like leider.
However, I am very fond of lieder.
Good job nevertheless.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2014 15:45:22 GMT
You got it nearly right in your second sentence, Bain. It's a typographical error, not a grammatical one.
But all these conventions are simply aids to readability, and if somebody wants their oeuvres to be read, then he would be wise to follow the conventions.
I fail to understand why you can't see that.