Search - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix [1] Mendelssohn :: Ferenc Fricsay: A Life in Music [Box Set]

Ferenc Fricsay: A Life in Music [Box Set]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix [1] Mendelssohn
Ferenc Fricsay: A Life in Music [Box Set]
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Classical


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Brilliant "Life in Music" Rescued from the Vaults
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 08/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Now that Deutsche Grammophon is part of Universal, we have seen some interesting things happen, and not all of them bad. What I'm referring to in this case is the new "Original Masters" Limited Edition Box Set series. Finally, the classical music world has taken a page out of the jazz reissue handbook -- put out a quality product featuring rare recordings but make its availability limited, and people will snatch it up.

Now in its second round of the "Original Masters" box sets, DG has chosen to follow-up on the success of the "Great Conductors of the Century" series. They have just released two glorious 9-disc collections of the performances of conductors Ferenc Fricsay and Igor Markevitch, the vast majority of which have been previously unavailable on CD.

This particular set, "A Life in Music," showcases some of the numerous recordings made by the great conductor Ferenc Fricsay for Deutsche Grammophon, many of which have been rare (and expensive) collector's items for years. As the track information is non-existent above, I will try to be of assistance.

The first disc contains Beethoven's 1st Symphony (1953) and the Overture and Incidental Music to Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1950) both with the Berlin Philharmonic (BP), and Prokofiev's 1st Symphony with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) from 1954.

Disc two features Mahler's Ruckert-Lieder with Maureen Forrester (BRSO, 1958), and Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony (BRSO, 1959).

Discs three begins with Respighi's orchestration of Rossini's La Boutique Fantasque (BRSO, 1955) and ends with Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade (BRSO, 1956).

Disc four features the great Waltzes, Polkas, Overtures and Marches of the Strauss Family (all with BRSO from 1949-52). Included here are The Blue Danube, Vienna Blood, Musical Joke, Pizzicato-Polka, Die Fledermaus, The Gypsy Baron, Voices of Spring, Roses from the South, Morning Papers, Annen-Polka, Chit-Chat Polka, and the Radzetky March.

Disc five focuses on Fricsay as an accompanist with pianist Margrit Weber (and the BRSO). Together they tackle Falla's Nights in the Garden of Spain (1957), Francaix's (1956) and Honegger's (1955) Concertos for Piano, Franck's Symphonic Variations (1957) and Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1960).

Disc six shines the spotlight on 20th Century composers. Here we get Von Einem's Zwischenspiel Interlude (1949), Hindemith's Symphonic Dances (1950), Hartmann's 6th Symphony (1955), and Martin's Petite Symphonie Concertante (1950), with Gerty Herzog on piano, Sylvia Kidd on harpsichord and Irmgard Helmis on harp.

On discs seven and eight, Fricsay performs a memorable account of Haydn's The Seasons. This is a live recording with the Berlin RSO from 1961 featuring soprano Maria Stader, tenor Ernst Haefliger, bass Josef Greindl and the St. Hedwigs Cathedral Choir, Berlin.

The final disc, number nine, wraps things up with "Ferenc Fricsay: A Life Retold," a 57-miunte interview complete with excerpts of memorable performances.

Despite the fact that most of these recordings are in mono (only the selections on disc two, and the Paganini Rhapsody are in stereo), the first rate performances more than compensate for any audio shortcomings. Well, I guess the consolidation of the music industry isn't so bad after all, as long as I can look forward to more reissues like Ferenc Fricsay: A Life in Music."
Top notch mostly 1950s mono recordings in excellent sound
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Ferenc Fricsay: A Life in Music" consists mostly of top notch 1950s mono recordings in excellent sound, from DG's back catalog. I knew of Ferenc Fricsay (1914-1963) mostly from his recording of Bartok's Piano Concertos 1,2,and 3 with pianist Geza Anda. Fricsay also recorded Mozart's operas "Don Giovanni" and "Die Zauberflote", both with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the cast for DG; also Beethoven's 9th Symphony; Bartok's "Concerto for Orchestra", and "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta", all for DG. Fricsay did not live a long time, dying at age 48 from cancer, but he made alot of recordings from 1949 until his death in 1963, many of them sadly hidden in DG's vaults for decades.

DG has given the public a great release with this 9 disc set of Fricsay recordings, mostly in mono, but excellent sound. Do not be afraid of the mono sound: it is very clear and balanced, in many cases better than many stereo and even digital recordings made more recently. Included are Beethoven's Symphony 1; Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the vocal duets included; Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony; Franck's Symphonic variations and Rachmaninoff Paganini Variations with Swiss pianist Margrit Weber; Haydn's "The Seasons" (complete, live performance with Maria Stader, Ernst Haeflinger, and Joseph Greindl); works of Falla, Francaix, Hindemith, Frank Martin, Hartmann, and others. There is a wide variety of music and you will not be disappointed.

Most of these recordings are with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, which Fricsay conducted for the majority of his conducting career. The RIAS orchestra was "Radio in the American sector" of Berlin, a part of West Berlin during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Some tracks are with the Berlin Philharmonic, others with the Berlin Radio Orchestra. In all cases, the orchestras play very well, responding with great precision to every nuance of Fricsay's direction.

I believe Fricsay would have wider recognition had he lived longer. He was roughly a contemporary of Karajan, Solti, Giulini, and Bernstein, and is sadly underrated today. Perhaps this collection will help to boost his reputation with a new generation of music lovers born after his time. Highly recommended."
A great conductor's legacy of great performances of music of
RENS | Dover, NH USA | 09/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Some two years after Mr. Richman posted his review, I wish only to support his high rating of these masterful performances by one of the greatest conductors of the mid-twentieth century. These recordings are gifts of grace. The fact that this collection remains available is little short of a miracle. And in addition thre is a Fricsay set in the series of "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" also still available. Many other recordings of performances under the baton of Ferenc Fricsay are to be found if one searches under his name on Amazon. His recordings of Verdi's Requiem and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on DG remain among the greatest ever made of either of these two eternal masterpieces.

Try the $12.00 2CD "great Conductors" set first. At that price you can't lose. I predict that having heard those recordings you will quickly seek out and purchase "Ferenc Fricsay, A Life in Music." Too expensive? Not at all. It's worth every penny. It's easily worth several months of anyone's budget for buying CDs. And the recorded interview with Fricsay, already ill and seemingly knowing his death is approaching, will inspire you even as it breaks your heart. His death as he approached his 40th birthday was an incalculable loss to the Western classical tradition. Yet we do have the recordings -- go and listen to them!"