Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 6. 1969.
Records — Barenboim Well Modulated
Barenboim Well Modulated
Peter Andry, chart A & R man for E.M.I, was recently quoted as saying that it is difficult making records with the young jet-set musicians because "their reportoire is so limited and they are still laying down the foundations of experience . . . After such a sweeping statement he promptly added,"However, talent like Barenboim's has helped to give me confidence in the development of a new musical generation." Obviously Barenboim is considered apart from the rest of of his age group and this is rather obvious considering the size of his recorded output, Many other well established conductors and pianists, such as Sir Adrian Boult, Horenstein, John Browning and Clifford Curzon are scraping for recording contracts and vet Barenboim at 26 has one of the fullest schedules of all.
The English Chamber Orchestra with himself as soloist and conductor will be touring New Zealand at the end of this month. HMV(NZ) Ltd are releasing two discs to coincide with the visit—a further in his complete Mozart concerto series, numbers 14 in E flat and 15 in B flat (ASDM 2434) and the Brahms Cello sonatas numbers 1 and 2. with wife Jacqueline du Pre (ASDM 2436).
The Mozart concertos are beautifully played. He brings a delightful sense of delicacy to the E flat work—"a Genuine chamber concerto in which the soloist is denied any brilliant virtuoso role." In the allegro Barenboim shows his ability to bounce along in a relaxed manner with the beautiful phrases trickling out. The B flat Concerto is a different matter altogether, a much larger scale work in the 'grand' manner. Barenboim gives a well modulated performance with just the right amount of drama and authority. It is interesting to compare this outstanding performance with Bernstein's rather mannered effort with the Vienna Philharmonic (Decca SETM 332). The orchestral playing is faultless and an excellent recording.
It is not belittling the playing of the two Brahms sonatas to say one of the most striking features of the disc is the recording. HMV have captured Miss du Pre's beautifull tone to perfection and the balance between cello and piano is excellent. (It is surprising how many duo recordings have been marred by insufficient attention to this aspect). Purists have criticised these performances on the grounds the artists have taken a too romantic approach towards Brahms. Perhaps this is the case with No. 1, an austere, sombre work but I find their warm, lyrical approach ideally suited to the more romantic and dramatic No. 2, written twenty years later.
At long last one of the Kertesz/London Symphony series of the complete Dvorak symphonies has appeared. Despite enthusiastic reviews and good sales of these recordings overseas HMV (NZ) Ltd do not appear to be going to release them all out here. Admittedly there are countless versions of the New World in the catalogue but most of the others have been ignored by local record companies. Unfortunately they have chosen to release the Fourth, one of the composer's lesser efforts. Most of the music is rather crass with little of the melodic genius so apparent in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th. Without this Dvorak's bucolic approach seems rather banal and this is not helped by the blatant plagiarizim from "Tannhouser" in the andante. Kertesz and the orchestra make the most of the work and it is to their credit that the worthwhile patches help to make up for the rest (Decca SXLM 6257).
Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony's account of Dvorak's Sixth (RCA 3017) does not quite match Kertesz and the LSO for technical brilliance but the work itself is much more satisfactory. Dvorak's tremendous vitality is evident from the first bars of the first movement. As is the case with all Boston S.O. recordings the wind and brass sections play magnificently. I am not sure if the top registers of the strings are a little fuzzy or whether the recording is a little indistinct. But this is a small point, the record is a marvellous buy.