, July 2011
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” (Woytowicz, Delorie, Cologne Radio Chorus and Symphony, W. Steinberg) (1965) ICAC5001
BRUCKNER, A.: Symphony No. 3 (BBC Northern Symphony, K. Sanderling) (1978) ICAC5005
Piano Recital: Cziffra, Gyorgy - LISZT, F. / BACH, C.P.E. / COUPERIN, F. / SCARLATTI, D. (Cziffra in Prague, 1955) ICAC5008
The newly launched ICA Classics label has come up with at least a couple of real gems. Readers who, like me, have an aversion to overly luxuriant, emotionally manipulative Mahler will delight in William Steinberg’s clear-headed 1965 Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra broadcast of the Resurrection Symphony, a startlingly direct statement of a score that is too often treated to extremes of mood and tempo. Steinberg’s straightforward route means that the great climactic denouement is both well timed and genuinely uplifting. The soprano Stefania Woytowicz is the more convincing of Steinberg’s two soloists.
I was also interested to hear an uncommonly stolid but in many ways imposing account of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony by the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra under Rudolf Kempe, not exactly a seasoned Mahlerian but certainly a man with a definite view of the music. Kurt Sanderling (now retired) was, it would seem, a rather more convinced Mahler conductor than Kempe and, in a gripping 1982 interview with Piers Burton-Page, refers briefly to “late” Mahler as well as to some key events in his own long career. The main item on this desirable ICA Classics CD is a transparent and well-structured reading of Bruckner’s Third Symphony (1888/89 version) with what was the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra (now the BBC Philharmonic), one of Sanderling’s swifter performances but in no way lacking in gravitas. A Georges Cziffra all-Liszt recital had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief, principally at two performances recorded in Prague in 1955: the Rapsodie espagnole, where Cziffra’s playing summons enormous excitement yet never overheats, and the Second Hungarian Rhapsody, the slow first section very slow, the “friss” second part full of fizz and original interpretative thinking. There are two exciting bonus tracks, both recorded in Turin in 1959, the pitch-black Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H (not, as stated, the Bach-Liszt Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV542) and a thunderous account of Funérailles.