Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Holmboe: Quartet No. 1 (Erling Bloch Quartet)

Vagn Holmboe
Twice in the past I have presented works by the most celebrated Danish composer since Nielsen, Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996): the Serenata, Opus 18 and the Notturno for Wind Quintet, Opus 19 - together constituting two-thirds of the total works of Holmboe recorded on 78-rpm discs. Here now is the third and last of these pioneering recordings:

Holmboe: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 46 (1949)
The Erling Bloch Quartet (Bloch-Friisholm-Kassow-Christiansen)
Recorded April 9, 1951
HMV DB 20137 through DB 21039, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 58.74 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 38.75 MB)

This fine three-movement quartet, the first of a remarkable series of twenty, was dedicated to, and premièred by, the Erling Bloch Quartet. Holmboe had, in fact, written no less than ten string quartets (not all of them actually completed) before the one he allowed to go out into the world as his First; at the time of its composition, he had already written six of his thirteen symphonies, and all but two of his series of thirteen chamber concertos. The first three of the numbered quartets were written in rapid succession, assigned consecutive opus numbers and recorded within five years - the Second by the Musica Vitalis Quartet for Decca, and the Third by the Koppel Quartet (the dedicatees), also for Decca. The latter was reissued on CD as part of the "Decca Sound - Mono Years" box set issued a couple of years ago.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Goldmark: Rustic Wedding Symphony (Howard Barlow)

Karl Goldmark
Shortly after I started this blog, seven years ago, I posted this recording of Howard Barlow conducting Gordon Jacob's orchestration of Vaughan Williams' "English Folk Song Suite". In the comments section of that post, there was a request for Barlow's recording of Karl Goldmark's delightful "Rustic Wedding" Symphony, which I did not possess at the time. Well, now I do, and here it is:

Goldmark: Rustic Wedding Symphony, Op. 26
Howard Barlow conducting the Columbia Broadcasting Symphony
Recorded June 19, 1939
Columbia Masterworks set MM-385, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 92.83 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 69.18 MB)

This was only the second recording of the work - the first had been made 10 years earlier, by the Vienna Philharmonic under Robert Heger, issued in the USA by Victor but deleted shortly after this fine account by Barlow appeared.

The request for this recording was from Fred, of the excellent blog "Random Classics" which, unfortunately, he felt obliged to suspend four years ago. Fred, wherever you are, I hope you are able to enjoy this recording, seven years late...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bach: Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 (Anna Linde)

Anna Linde
Last year, I presented on this blog what I believed to be the first electrical recording of a Bach concerto, a triple clavier concerto played by three French pianists. Now I present the first complete recording of a Bach clavier concerto played on the harpsichord - I say "complete" because Alice Ehlers had recorded two movements of the BWV 1056 concerto for Homokord in 1926, a recording which achieved nothing like the currency that this one did:

Bach: Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G Minor, BWV 1058
Anna Linde, harpsichord, with string orchestra
Recorded October 8, 1928
English Parlophone E 10879 and E 10880, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 40.39 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 22.71 MB)

According to Christian Zwerg's Parlophon discography, the orchestra is that of the Berlin State Opera, and the conductor was Frieder Weissmann, Parlophon's house conductor. And the irony is that, although Weissmann's name is not on the labels, we know far more about his career than we do about the harpsichordist's, for Anna Linde is a figure shrouded in mystery. Here is what we have been able to find out about her (and I am indebted to Nick Morgan and his great sleuthing powers for this information):

She was born Johanna Anna Pincus in Bromberg, Germany (now Bydgoszcz, Poland), in 1880. During the 1910s she studied with Wanda Landowska at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, and sometime after this adopted "Anna Linde" as her professional name. In the late 1920s she recorded a handful of sides for Parlophon, among them several with Paul Grümmer playing the viola da gamba (these can be heard at the CHARM website, as can two of her solo sides). Being Jewish, when the Nazis came to power, she was forced to flee Germany, and she went first to Italy, where she made several recordings for the anthology "Musiche Antiche Italiane" (producers of this first recording of Monteverdi's "Orfeo"). After Italy became unsafe for Jews, she emigrated to the USA, took citizenship and appears to have settled in Denver, Colorado, dying there in 1968.

The picture above is the only one I have been able to find of her, and appears to derive from Parlophon publicity material; my apologies for its awful quality but it was little better in my source, which was a reproduction in Frank Andrews and Michael Smith's discography of English Parlophone's 12-inch "E" series, published by the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bloch: Violin Sonata No. 1 (Josef Gingold, Beryl Rubinstein)

Ernest Bloch, early 1920s
Ernest Bloch wrote two violin sonatas in the 1920s, when he was serving as the first director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and these have not lacked for performances and recordings from some fairly prominent artists, among them Heifetz, Isaac Stern and Louis Kaufman. The first recording ever made of either of them was for an independent New York label, Gamut, by the husband-and-wife team of Harold and Marion Kahn Berkley, in 1937. This is so rare that I have never encountered it. A year later, Victor recorded the same sonata, and it presumably received somewhat wider distribution, though it is scarcely less common:

Bloch: Violin Sonata No. 1 (1920)
Josef Gingold, violin; Beryl Rubinstein, piano
Recorded c. January 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece set AM-498, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 69.03 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 49.67 MB)

This recording affords us a rare opportunity to hear Josef Gingold (1909-1995) as a soloist; he was much more active as a chamber and orchestral musician, being in Toscanini's NBC Orchestra and in the Primrose Quartet. Beryl Rubinstein (1898-1952), on the Cleveland Institute's faculty while Bloch was there (and subsequently its director), was one of the dedicatees of Bloch's Second Violin Sonata, along with violinist André Ribaupierre; together they premièred the work in 1925. Curiously enough, another Rubinstein, Artur. participated in the première of the First Sonata, with violinist Paul Kochanski.