Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Leos Janacek, Gustav Mahler, Rafael Kubelik|
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 'Titan'; Janácek: Sinfonietta
Kubelik's Decca Debut
Ruminator | The Fencepost | 09/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This attractive slice of history comes to us from Retrospective, apparently a chapter of the Brilliant label devoted to historical recordings. This is the first and only release I have seen from this source; in any case it was an irresistable purchase for me when I found it in a retail shop for under $5.
I can't say I didn't get my money's worth. Backside notes say these are Rafael Kubelik's first recordings with Decca, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, in 1954-55. Kubelik became strongly identified with both composers while contracted with DG during the 60's, producing a complete Mahler cycle that stands as a valid demonstration that Mahler need not be about the kind of anxiety and despair that other conductors might serve up. And I own a Galleria CD containing Kubelik's account of Taras Bulba and the Glagolitic Mass that I consider indispensible.
OK, those recordings came 10-15 years later. These Decca performances are another matter, especially with respect to the sound. In the absence of any remastering info, I suspect there hasn't been any remastering at all - this CD sounds just like an old record played on a good turntable, although it would have to be an old record in excellent condition. And for this reason primarily - lack of dynamic range - I must rate this CD 4 stars instead of 5.
But the sound is clean and clear, even in dense passages. One only has to listen more attentively for detail without the aid of remastering. And close listening reveals that Kubelik conducted these sessions much like he conducted for DG - light and brisk, never rushed or impatient, building momentum without force or acceleration, articulate without excess. So, those familiar with the Kubelik on DG should not be surprised with this Kubelik on Decca, and I found myself playing and enjoying this CD several times within the first week I had it. Though surprised to notice some scrappiness from the Vienna PO occasionally, I found it to be more endearing than annoying, in a way not uncommon with historical recordings.
Overall this document offers a fine snapshot of this conductor in the mid-50's, as it appears to be intended, including text that follows its subject with sympathy through biographical times both good and bad. For the price, and for those with the inclination, I can't recommend against buying this CD, but if you already have the DG versions, you can probably suffice without.