|All Artists: Beethoven, Serkin, Schneider, Marlboro Cham Ens|
Title: Marlboro Music Festival: 50th Anniversary -- Beethoven, Dvorak, Janacek / Serkin, Schneider
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Original Release Date: 1/1/1974
Re-Release Date: 7/18/2000
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Instruments, Keyboard, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
This two-disc set commemorates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont by several distinguished European musicians, including violinist Adolf Busch; his brother, cellist Herman Busch; and his son-in-law, pianist Rudolf Serkin. Marlboro, a unique community of artists of different generations and backgrounds who inspire and teach one another, has opened the world of chamber music to many young musicians and become a breeding ground for fledgling ensembles. Many of the participants on this recording are now renowned soloists, chamber musicians, and orchestra principals. And the playing is fabulous. In the Beethoven Concerto, Serkin plays with a beautiful sound, great expressiveness, and freedom, taking all the time in the world to caress every note and nuance; his transitions are miracles of poise, his climaxes are grand. In the slow movement, a supplicant pleads with a stern deity; in the finale, humanity's joy of life is restored. Schneider's conducting is sympathetic, but not always synchronized with the soloist. Serkin's son Peter conducts the Choral Fantasy, a piece hastily written for a special occasion and its performing forces, not unlike those at Marlboro. Together with its message of musical uplift (no text is included), this makes it singularly appropriate for the Festival, though with its bombastic beginning and somewhat trite Theme and Variations, it depends on the performers' enthusiasm to make it work. The second disc features the strings and winds. Dvorák's Quintet Op. 77, an early work despite the late opus number, adds a bass to the string quartet, enhancing the sonority and allowing the cellist free use of the upper register. The performance, which includes the second movement Dvorák later removed and recast as an orchestral Nocturne, is beautiful, making the most of the work's youthful exuberance and lovely Bohemian melodies, and almost concealing the composer's still imperfect command of developing his material. By contrast, Janácek wrote his wind sextet Youth when he was 70, at the peak of his mature skill, yet it, too, has an amazingly fresh, buoyant vitality. Vigorous, mournful, spooky, lyrical--its mercurial moods and beguiling melodies make it irresistible, and the performance is terrific. --Edith Eisler
Marlboro's History & The Choral Fantasy
Christopher Serkin | New York, NY | 08/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazon's review of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy on this CD does not mention the significance of the piece for the Marlboro Music Festival. For almost 40 years, the Choral Fantasy was the last piece in the last concert of the summer. Especially in recent years when Marlboro has been exclusively a chamber music festival, the Choral Fantasy was the one time during the summer when all of the chamber musicians would come together into an orchestra, and the results were invariably magical. In any given year, the orchestra would include a mixture of some of the great luminaries of the musical world playing alongside brilliant younger musicians -- soloists and chamber musicians briefly forming an orchestra. For that one moment, it could be the greatest orchestra in the world. Rudolf Serkin was once asked, jokingly of course, if Beethoven had composed the Choral Fantasy for Marlboro. The piece has everything Marlboro could have wanted for its final concert: an orchestra in which everyone could play; solos within the orchestra; ensemble playing among various instruments; piano solo; and a chorus for everyone else in the Marlboro community. Rudolf Serkin responded, with his characteristic smile, "No, Beethoven didn't compose it for Marlboro.... But he approves." Despite all of the remarkable Choral Fantasy performances over the years, this CD marks the first time that a Marlboro recording of the piece has been released. Whatever one's view of the work itself, it represents Marlboro to many of us who have spent summers there. And the particular performance Marlboro has chosen to release, I believe from 1981 with Peter Serkin conducting, captures some of the unique energy and joy of the place. This CD has immediately become one of the treasures in my collection."
Another Marlboro fan checks in
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wouldn't dare to claim the authority of Christopher Serkin's note, but I too went to Marlboro when Rudolf Serkin was in his long, distinguished prime. Christopher captures the joy and spontaneity of the summer's finale when Serkin and half the chamber musicians at the festival played the Choral Fantasy. It was a bumptious family affair that we, the audeince, were allowed to overhear--a firend of mine from college even got to conduct one year.
This 2-CD set is invaluable as a testment to those years, but I'd like to emphasize that Peter Serkin leads a great performance, the equal of another outstanding version, the one that Rudolf Serkin made with Leonard Bernstein and the NY Phil., also on Sony.
That said, the best thing in this set is the Beethoven Fourth Concerto. Serkin made two other commercial recordings, one in the Sixties with Eugene Ormandy (Sony), in which he shows off more technical power than here but is let down by Ormandy's conventionally dull accompaniment, and the second on Telarc with Ozawa and the BSO, recorded too late in Serkin's career--his technique is constrained, and Ozawa is no lion of the podium.
Which leaves us with this lovely version from Marlboro in 1974. Serkin's great friend, violinist Alexander Schneider from the Budapest Quartet, leads a measured reading--at 20 min., the first movement is especially slow. But that hardly matters. In terms of musicality, I've never heard a perforamnce of the Fourth Concerto to equal this, and it's all due to Serkin, who plays with incredible integrity and touch--you think you're hearing a carefully wrought Beethoven sonata, so personal is Serkin's attention to every phrase. The orchestra also plays without a routine note, and even though one notices that Serkin can't build big climaxes any more (or is holding back because of the chamber music size of the affair), this performance stands alone. Five stars."
A historical musical register!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 01/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Consider this fact: the Fourth Piano Concerto was made as part of a Pablo Casals memorial concert, recorded live at the Marlboro Music Festivakl in Marlboro, Vermont on July 7. 1974.
Serkin made a fabulous reading about this work. The very slow introduction of the First movement is splendid. The spirit of the Maestro seems to surround this musical encounter.
The Coral Fantasy is simply mesmerizing, Serkin plays with such level of playing out of this world, the balanced musical accompaniment, the admirable baton of Peter Serkin and the Chorus singing with sidereal conviction, make of this performance an absolute treasure.
I acquired yesterday night and my recommendation is total. Try to get it as soon as you can.