Classic Fricsay in good stuido sound for the Fifth Sym.
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fricsay had the rare capacity to keep an orchestra under control wile sounding as if the music was spontaneous, even abandoned. That combination makes his Tchaikovsky exciting in a way that Cantelli and Bernstein also manage. Of the three, Fricsay's recordings are the least well known. This is a DG studio recording from 1949 that has gone off copyright, and is in remakrably good sound. Since it derived form magnetic tape, there is no surface hiss. Generally Urania isn't among the most reliable among Italian pirate labels, but this CD is an exception.
DG still lists Fricsay's Fourth and Sixth Sym., both outstanding, the Pathetique (sstereo, 1956) showing true greatness--it's a performance anyone should seek out, even if you own half a dozen favored recordings already. This Fifth comes in a hair less inspired, but it shows Fricsay's reined-in volatility. The famous Andante cantabile is played for real depth of expression and the rhetoical finale, the weakest movement, is give rare dramatic life. Tempos are in the normal range, with the finale faster than usual. IN all, a reading that belongs high in the rankings, along with the rest of Fricsay's Tchaikovsky.
The Violin Concerto with Menuhin is a live performance from the DG archives. It's also from 1949 but is not up to the studio sound of the Fifth Sym. (it was never intended for commercial release, although DG eventually included it in a memorial tribute to Menuin after his death.) Anyone familiar with Menuhin in the Forties will know what to expect: lovely, often profound musicianship that becomes quite moving in the slow movement, against which stands an increasingly flawed technique in the virtuoso parts. A number of cuts have been made in the last movement. Fricsay is vigorous and alert, so the eprformance remains memorable as long as you realize that this won't be Heifetz.
In sum, a valuable addition to the ever-growing Fricsay catalog."