Today we take high fidelity sound quality for granted, but how did it start? When was the moment when compressed and scratchy sound gave way to natural, realistic sound that captured the whole picture of a performance?
Decca Sound ‘Mono Years’ seeks to answer that question and shows how, 70 years ago, amidst war-time privations, a small team at Decca made technological breakthroughs that brought hi-fi to the world. This latest cube explores Decca’s earliest high-fidelity history, and restores some restores critically acclaimed albums from ensembles such as the Trio di Trieste, Quintetto Chigiano and Griller Quartet which have not been available since their original LP release more than sixty years ago. An equally impressive array of soloists includes pianists Clifford Curzon, Julius Katchen, Friedrich Gulda and Moura Lypmany and violinists Ruggiero Ricci and Alfredo Campoli. Several generations of cellists are represented with recordings by Pierre Fournier, Maurice Gendron and Zara Nelsova.
Hausmusik’s performance of the Mendelssohn Octet comes with the advantage of a sensibly steady tempo for the famous scherzo, allowing for maximum transparency and lightness; and a dazzling finale in which for once the cello’s first scurrying fugal entry sounds crystal clear. The First String Quintet, and the Op. 13 Quartet – Mendelssohn’s homage to the late quartets of the recently deceased Beethoven – are also miraculous products of the composer’s teenage years. The Quintet is quite beautifully done here, but the Quartet, like the late Quintet, Op. 87, is rather lacking in tension and urgency. Woldemar Bargiel was Schumann’s brother-in-law. For all its obvious weaknesses, his Octet contains some attractive ideas, and Divertimenti’s performance makes a strong case for it. Divertimenti is impressive in the Mendelssohn, too – though its finale is not quite as exhilarating as Hausmusik’s; and in the last resort neither group can quite match the élan of the ASMF Chamber Ensemble.
Viola player David Aaron Carpenter brings together works united by their composers’ longing for home. Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, deftly arranged for viola by Carpenter himself, and Bartók’s desolate Viola Concerto are each influenced by Eastern European folk song—both composers lived in the U.S. as they wrote their masterpieces, dreaming of their motherlands. Walton’s sweetly melancholic Viola Concerto has an unsettled feeling, while Alexey Shor, now a U.S. resident, recalls his native Kiev with music of great emotional depth and character. Carpenter’s flawless playing is the perfect vehicle for this rich, varied program.
Renaud Capuçon expands his wide-ranging concerto discography with Bartók’s two violin concertos. Composed almost three Decades apart, they are highly contrasted, inhabiting very different emotional and musical worlds. Partnering Capuçon is the London Symphony Orchestra under its Principal Guest Conductor, François-Xavier Roth.
YONDANI BUTT was born in Macau. He studied conducting with Wolfgang Vacano (1906–1985) at Indiana University, majoring in chemistry. He continued to study conducting with Josef Blatt (1906–1999) at the University of Michigan while pursuing his chemistry degree. Hailed by Robert Marsh of the Chicago Sun Times as “an outstanding talent”, Yondani Butt has received acclamation from critics and audiences for his many CD recordings and concert performances. He died on 28th August 2014.
These performances of three early and one "late" symphony of Schubert are both bracing and youthfully brisk, done on tart "period" instruments of Schubert's time. This produces what Schubert would have heard and expected to hear. Just listening to each performance convinces that these are "right." Sound is good. Warm and focused.(amazon.com)