Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
# 2 - New Release
E.Wolf-Ferrari, Violin Concerto, Overtures & Intermezzi, Benjamin Schmid, Friedrich Haider, Oviedo Filarmoniía, Farao 108069
E.Wolf-Ferrari, Violin Concerto, et al.,
B.Schmid / F.Haider / Oviedo Filarmoniía
Being premiered in 1944, by the Munich Philharmonic under Oswald Kabasta in the “Capital of the Movement” with an American soloist who elected to stay in Italy and Germany during WWII (Guila Bustabo, worth an essay or two of her own): all that didn’t help its journey to posterity… Neither can its romantic tone have endeared it to post-WWII audiences. That brew of music and political history was precisely the thing audiences—or at least the taste-makers—reacted against when they signed up to the avant-garde. Politically and ideologically, one can’t hold it against them. Musically it was a great loss that’s slowly being remedied. This recording is one of many such signs.
Hard to believe that this is only the third recording of the concerto since the premiere performance broadcast. Ulf Hoelscher’s (2000, cpo) was an honorable effort, but not competitive. Narimichi Kawabata’s (2010, Victor Entertainment) is a Japan-only release with naturally limited circulation. This, Benjamin Schmid’s, is the release that will blow the lid of the concerto and its repertoire history.
Benjamin Schmid was primed to be Austria’s next super-star violinst, but his career has moved laterally instead and he still awaits the real international breakthrough. That doesn’t change the fact that he is a world class fiddler—a gift and tenacity he decidedly puts to use in this concerto. The Oviedo Filarmonía is not an established brand in the orchestra world, in fact it’s third class at best. But they respond and are sympathetic to Wolf-Ferrari’s idiom, or else Wolf-Ferrari advocate Friedrich Haider, their recent Music Director, has made them so. Either way, the performances of the concerto and the Opera-excerpts, unlike so many other well meaning performances of rare repertoire, is very satisfactory.
Those latter four orchestral excerpts are not the main ingredient by any stretch, but they’re great fun, too. Wolf-Ferrari has a gift for masterly turns of phrases, has you in suspense with just two notes. You’ll find touches of Beethoven’s Ninth, Sibelius, and playful hints of Italian opera (Boito, Verdi) in them, and bop along. The Farao release comes with exemplary liner notes, in lavish packaging, and with a bonus DVD. (The documentary can be watched on YouTube - subtitles in English et al. available.)
# 2 – Reissue
Mieczysław Weinberg, Piano Sonatas 4-6, Murray McLachlan, divine art 25107
Weinberg, Piano Sonatas 4-6