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Rafael Kubelik – Rare Recordings 1963-1974 (8 CD box set, FLAC)

Rafael Kubelik - Rare Recordings 1963-1974 (8 CD box set, FLAC)
Rafael Kubelik – Rare Recordings 1963-1974 (8 CD box set, FLAC)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 8 CD box set
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 2.67 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

CD 01
Serenade In D, K.250 “Haffner”
01. 1. Allegro maestoso – Allegro molto
02. 7. Andante
03. 3. Menuetto
04. 4. Rondo: Allegro
05. 5. Menuetto galante
06. 6. Andante
07. 7. Menuetto
08. 8. Adagio – Allegro assai

Serenade For Strings In E, Op.22
09. 1. Moderato
10. 2. Tempo di valse
11. 3. Scherzo (Vivace)
12. 4. Larghetto
13. 5. Finale (Allegro vivace)

CD 02
Symphony No.1 In C, Op.21
01. 1. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
02. 2. Andante cantabile con moto
03. 3. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
04. 4. Finale (Adagio – Allegro molto e vivace)

Symphony No.3 In E Flat, Op.55 -“Eroica”
05. 1. Allegro con brio
06. 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
07. 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
08. 4. Finale (Allegro molto)

CD 03
Symphony No.2 In D, Op.36
01. 1. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
02. 2. Larghetto
03. 3. Scherzo (Allegro)
04. 4. Allegro molto

Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92
05. 1. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
06. 2. Allegretto
07. 3. Presto – Assai meno presto
08. 4. Allegro con brio

CD 04
Piano Concerto No.2 In A, Op.26 (2nd version)
01. Vivo
02. Moderato
03. Allegro moderato
04. Presto – Prestissimo

Piano Concerto No.5, Op.96
05. 1. Allegro moderato
06. 2. Andantino – attacca
07. 3. Animato, ma poco rubato

2. Concert For Violin And Orchestra Op.51
08. 1. Allegro sostenuto
09. 2. Andantino – Adagio
10. 3. Final – Vivace

CD 05
Symphony No. 4 – String Orchestra (1947)
01. 1. Lento assai – con passione
02. 2. Allegro di molto, risoluto
03. 3. Adagio appassionato

Symphony No.8 For Full Orchestra
04. 1. Cantilène: Lento assai, con passione
05. 2. Dithyrambe: Scherzo: lebhaft (con brio) – Fuge: lebhaft

06. Scherzo à la Russe For Jazz Orchestra – Symphonic Version (1944)
07. Circus Polka For A Young Elephant

CD 06
01. Abu Hassan – Overture
02. Overture Preciosa
03. Overture “Jubel”

04. I.1. Orchestral Prelude
05. I.2. Waldemar: Nun dämpft die Dämmerung
06. I.3. Tove: O, wenn des Mondes Strahlen
07. I.4. Waldemar: Ross! Mein Ross!
08. I.5. Tove: Sterne jubeln
09. I.6. Waldemar: So tanzen die Engel
10. I.7. Tove: Nun sag ich dir zum ersten Mal
11. I.8. Waldemar: Es ist Mitternachtszeit
12. I.9. Tove: Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick
13. I.10. Waldemar: Du wunderliche Tove!
14. I.11. Voice Of The Wood-Dove: Doves Of Gurre

CD 07
01. II.12. Waldemar: Herrgott, weisst du, was du tatest
02. III.13. Waldemar: Erwacht, König Waldemars Mannen wert!
03. III.14. Peasant: Deckel des Sarges Klappert
04. III.15. Waldemar’s Men: Gegrüsst, o König
05. III.16. Waldemar: Mit Toves Stimme flüstert der Wald
06. III.17. Klaus the Jester: Ein seltsamer Vogel
07. III.18. Waldemar: Du strenger Richter
08. III.19. Waldemar’s Men: Der Hahn erhebt den Kopf
09. III.20. Orchestral Prelude
10. III.21. Speaker: Herr Gänsefuss, Frau Gänsekraut
11. III.22. Speaker: Auf luftigem Steige – Mixed Chorus: Seht die Sonne

12. Quattro Forme per Archi – 1. Serenata. Allegro moderato attacca
13. Quattro Forme per Archi – 2. Quasi una passacaglia. Meno mosso
14. Quattro Forme per Archi – 3. Aria. Molto espressivo
15. Quattro Forme per Archi – 4. Finale. Presto

CD 08
Overture “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Op.21
01. [End Of Run-Through] – “Die Akkorde …”
02. “So, spielen wir es jetzt noch einmal”
03. “So, kommen Sie einmal zu ‘E'”
04. “Das wollte ich. Aha. Hier ist das”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op.61
05. Overture
06. No.1 Scherzo
07. No. 2 Scene – Fairies’ March
08. No.3 Song With Chorus: “Bunte Schlangen, zweigezüngt”
09. No.5 Intermezzo
10. No. 7 Notturno
11. No. 9 Wedding March
12. No. 10b) Funeral March
13. No.11 Dance Of The Clowns
14. Finale: “Bei des Feuers mattem Flimmern”

Good Kubelik selection

This box has some pretty good things in it – best of all are the excellent Beethoven Second and Third symphonies, from his multi-orchestra cycle (the rest can be had on two DG Doubles – on no account miss his wonderful Pastoral with the Orchestre de Paris). In fact the Berlin PO Eroica here is one of my favourites, a ‘slightly slower than normal’ rather than ‘slow’ Eroica, with wonderful playing and interpretative touches. Superbly recorded in 1971 too. The earlier Bavarian Seventh is perhaps a tad relaxed compared to the finest versions.

The complete live Gurrelieder is also fine, perhaps a notch below modern readings by Chailly, Rattle and Sinopoli but still enjoyable, especially with Inge Borkh as Tove.

The Dvorak String Serenade is good – but just not as good as the live one he did on Orfeo. The modern works by Jean Martinon (the conductor), Tcherepnin and Kubelik himself are interesting but not really music of the highest quality, though the two symphonies (4 and 8) by his close friend Karl Amadeus Hartmann are worth hearing in definitive performances here.

Other entries include a nice Mozart Haffner Serenade, a couple of Stravinsky bonbons, three less well-known Weber overtures, and the famous Mendelssohn Midsummer Night’s Dream incidental music – but here prefaced by over half an hour of rehearsal extracts, pleasingly given a full translation in the booklet.

A worthwhile set even if not all the contents are top drawer, as the playing, recordings and presentation are all very fine.

It’s “Rare” to Find a Better Conductor than Kubelik

This recent offering in the “Original Masters” series presents 8 CDs of “Rare Recordings” made by conductor Rafael Kubelik between 1963 and 1974 for Deutsche Grammophon. As most of his discography has been readily available for years, serious collectors would probably have to question whether there were indeed enough unissued Kubelik performances to comprise a set of this nature. And while there are a few items contained on this set that have been reissued previously (not to mention a few items that could have been included instead), this box set offers some real treasures.

First let me say once more that I am distressed that so many of the recent DG & Decca OM sets are being sold only as pricey imports (see my reviews of the Julius Katchen and Jean Martinon sets in particular). I waited a good six months to buy this set because I wasn’t about to pay three figures for it here. While some vendors in the Amazon Marketplace are beginning to offer it for less, the cheapest place I found to buy this set was HMV Japan. Additionally, that website is carrying the most recent (July 2006) batch of Decca/Philips OM sets featuring Ataulfo Argenta, Arthur Grumiaux, Clara Haskil and Pierre Monteux, which Amazon isn’t even offering yet.

Anyway on to the music in this fine set. The gems here are both by the most recognizable of composers, and also by rather obscure ones. By recognizable I mean Beethoven, and in particular Kubelik’s performances of Symphonies 1-3 & 7, which comprise discs 2 & 3. In the early 1970s DG allowed Kubelik to record a Beethoven Cycle with a different Orchestra for each Symphony. Symphonies 4-6 and 7-9 have been available on two different DG “2CD” titles (see my review of 4-6), but until now the remaining ones have been unissued. Also, a magnificent earlier 1970 account of the 7th with the Bavarian RSO is tossed in here as a bonus. The other highlights are the works of more obscure composers — Hartmann’s 4th and 8th Symphonies, Tcherepin’s 2nd & 5th Piano Concertos, conductor Jean Martinon’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and even Kubelik’s own “Quattro Forme per Archi,” a most pleasant surprise!

However, the set is not without its problems. Price aside, there are some performances that serious collectors may already have. The Mendelssohn “Midsummer Night’s Dream” music, which with the exception of some rehearsal outtakes comprises the whole of disc 8, has been available in a DG Import budget line title for several years now. Also the 3 Weber Overtures were recently reissued on a Weber disc in the Universal budget line (see my review) — hardly making them rare! Additionally, Schoenberg’s “Gurreleider” leaves a lot to be desired, but that is just my personal preference as the recording did win the Grand Prix du Disque. I think DG would have been better served had they included some of Kubelik’s now out-of-print Janacek or Smetana recordings, or the Wagner, Bartok or Martinu performances that are currently available only in Japan, instead of the aforementioned selections. Yet as is, Kubelik’s “Rare Recordings” is a real treat, just make sure you don’t pay too much for it.

A superb collection

Rafael Kubelik was, in my view, one of the most gifted and significant conductors in modern time, which is exemplified by his outstanding recordings of Mahler’s, Dvorák’s, and Janácek’s music. This box – which ought to be a bargain set, even in the US, because that is what it is at (£17.87 = $36) – collects some of his less well-known recordings.

First, however, one must note that DG, for some odd reason, has decided to include parts of Kubelik’s famous and fine Beethoven cycle in this box (symphonies 1-3), instead of releasing them in a separate twofer as is the case of the rest of this cycle. In addition, there is also a very fine performance of Beethoven’s seventh symphony, with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, which was not part of Kubelik’s cycle.

Second, we find a selection of rarely recorded works, such as Tcherepnin’s piano concertos nos. 2 & 5, with the composer at the piano, Martinon’s second violin concerto, Hartmann’s fourth and eight symphonies, and Kubelik’s own “Quattro forme per archi”. These works are very interesting, and the performances are first rate.

Finally, there are such well-known works as Mozart’s “Haffner” serenade, Dvorák’s serenade for strings (both are outstanding), Stravinsky’s Scherzo à la Russe and Circus polka, three Weber overtures (Abu Hassan, Preciose, and Jubel-ouvertüre), Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (rehearsal of the overture is included), and Schönberg’s “Gurrelieder” (these two are crème de la crème as well). Especially the Schönberg piece is of great interest – in my view, it’s the best Gurrelieder that we currently have on record. Both as a performance and as a recording, it deserves all praise.

Recordings are clear, though somewhat close-miked analogue stereo, but technically satisfying in fine remasterings.

Warmly recommended (even at a too high US price)!

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