CHOPIN: Etudes, OP. 10. Etudes, Op. 25. Preludes, Op. 28. Waltzes.
Alfed Cortot, piano
PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM 088 (2 disks) TT: 2 hours 10:41

DELIUS: The Walk to the Paradise Garden. WALTON: Violin Concerto. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: A London Symphony
Jascha Heifetz, violin. Cincinnati Symphony Orchetra / Eugene Goossens, cond.

BUSONI: Doktor Faust
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Doktor Faust). George Shirleyt (Mephistopheles / Sixth Voice / Night Watchman(). Malcolm Smith (Wagner/University Rector). Paul Franke (Duke of Parma). Ingrid Bjoner (Duchess of Parma). Lee Cass (Master of Ceremonies). William Medcalf (Theologist). American Opera Society Chorus and Orchestra / Jascha Horenstein, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 188 (2disks) TT: 2 hours 6:12

Legendary French pianist Alfred Cortot (1877 - 1962) recorded profusely during his long career. We are fortunate that Pristine has issued many of his superb recordings including collaborations with Jacques Thibaudet and Pablo Casals. The label also has issued his concerto recordings and solo recordings. Now we have this set that contains all of Chopin's etudes, preludes and waltzes. Now we have this valuable set of all of Cortot's wartime Chopin recordings made in Albert Studio in Paris in 1942-1943. Masterfull performances of course, and Andrew Rose's XR remastering has worked wonders for the original recordings including pitch correction and eliminating much of the background sounds. An admirabe issue!

Ferruccio Busoni (1866 - 1924) composed his opera Doktor Faust 1916 - 1924 and didn't finish it. Busoni uses an older German text of the story of the unfortunate Faust who makes a regrettable pact with the Devil. His pupil Philipp Jarnach completed the opera, and the premiere was given in Dresden conducted by Fritz Busch in 1925.There were many other performances in Germany. In 1959 there was a performance in London's Usher Hall l conducted by Sir Arian Boult that featured Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the title role. Jascha Horenstein always championed the music of Busoni, and conducted the American premiere of Doktor Faust at a concert in Carnegie Hall December 1, 1946, heard on this important new set. Again Fischer-Dieskau is featured as Faust, and the remainder of the cast is first-class. Program notes are by the conductor's cousin Misha Horenstein who in program notes describes his uncle's long association with Busoni. You can find a plot synopsis on line 38; cueing tracks are provided. Audio is dated but vocal lines are always clear. A major release!

English conductor Sir Eugene Goossens (1893- 1952) also was a composer. His works include two symphonies, two operas, concertos and chamber music. In 1942, he requested various composers to write a Fanfare For the Common Man. One of the composers was Aaron Copland who wrote his famous work with that name. Goossens also created, at the request of Sir Thomas Beecham, a modern version of Handel's Messiah scored for a huge orchestra with the accent on percussion, which outraged many purists, delighted most others. Goossens was music director several orchestras including the Rochester Philharmonic (1823 - 1931), and the Cincinnati Symphony (1931- 1946). He made many acclaimed and important recordings. Unfortunately his career ended in 1956 because of a scandal; you can read details on the internet. The Cincinnati Symphony, founded in 1893, has had some distinguished music directors: Leopold Stokowski (1909-1912), Eugene Ysaÿe (1918-1922) and Fritz Reiner (1922-934). Goossens became music director in 1931. On this new disk, Pristine offers the first in a projected series of the many recordings Goossens made with the Cincinnati Symphony. And there are two gems, the first: Walton's Violin Concerto in its original version with Jascha Heifetz as soloist. Heifetz had commissioned the concerto and worked with Walton on the elaborate solo part. The master violinist gave the U.S. premiere December 7, 1939 with Artur Rodzinski and the Cleveland Orchestra but they could not record it as the conductor had a contract with Columbia, Heifetz with RCA. The Cincinnati recording was made February 18, 1941. The Walton Symphony was from the same concert, and again we have the expanded original version. Beecham's arrangement of Delius' The Walk to the Paradise Garden was recorded February 14, 1946. All recordings were made in Cincinnati's Music Hall, and RCA's engineers were in top form, MOT's transfers could not be bettered. This recording of the Walton was issued many years ago on Nacos (REVIEW), but this new one is superior in every way.

R.E.B. (March 2022)