WAGNER: Act III of Die Walküre
Helen Traubel (Brünnhude). Herbert Janssen (Wotan).Irene Jessner (Sieglinde). New York Philharmonic / ARTUR RIDZINSKI, cond.

GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue. Three Preludes. GERSHWI-DUSKIN Short Story. Pano Concerto in F. An American in Paris. Second Rhapsody. GERSHWIN-SMALL: Cuban Overture. Excerpts from Porgy and Bess.
Soloists as outlied below
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 637 (2 disks) TT: 75:58 / 76:50

VERDI: Il trovatore
Maria Callas (Leonora). Giuseppe di Stefano (Manrico). Fedora Barbieri (Azucena). Nicola Zaccaria (Frnando). Renato Ercolani (Ruiz). Rolando Panerai (Conte de Luna). Luisa Villa (Ines). Chorus and Orchestra of Ls Scala / HeebHerbert von Karajan, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 181 (2 disks) TT: 67:56 / 61:41

This Artur Rodzinski's 1945 Columbia recording of Act III of Die Walküre is a treasure. The cast is magnificent headed by American soprano Helen Traubel who for more than a decade sang countless Wagner performances at the Met. Herbert Janssen is a strong Wotan. Sieglinde is sung by Irene Jessner, who also is heard as the Valkyrie Ortlinde. Other Valkyries are Doris Doe, Anna Kaskas, Jeanne Palmer, Maxine Stellman, Hertha Glaz, Martha Lipton, and Doris Doree. The New York Philharmonic is in top form, and Rodzinski's brisk tempi are exciting indeed. The recording was made in the warm acoustics of Carnegie Hall February 27 and 15, 18, and 22 May 1945. Andrew Rose's XR remastering is outstanding. This is a major addition to the Wagner discography.

Here is something very special: a collection of early recordings of music of George Gershwin including a number of his own performances. We have Rhapsody in Blue, an acoustic recording made in 1924 wit an additional take of side two, and the first electric recording (1927) all with the composer as soloist with Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. There also is a 1928 recording of the Andante from Rhapsody. Gershwin's 1928 recording of his Three Preludes is here along with an oddity: Short Story a collaboration of Gershwin with Samuel Dushkin. Roy Bargy is soloist with Paul Whiteman in the first recording of Concerto in F dating from 1928. Here is the first recording of An American in Paris in which Gershiwin plays the celeste with the Victor Symhony directed by Nathaniel Shilkret. Second Rhapsody features Roy Bargy with Whiteman and his orchestra, who also conducts Cuban Overture recorded in 1938. We also have eight highlights from Porgy and Bess recorded in 1935 with soprano Helen Jepson and baritone Lawrence Tibbett with Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Nathaniel Shilkret and Alexander Smallens.Oscar Levant is featured in a 1926 recording of I Got Rhythm Variations with Morton Gould and his Orchestra, and Rhapsody in Blue reorded in 1927 with Frank Blak and his Orhestraa. Yet another Rhapsody i Blue, recorded in 1927 features MMischa Spoilansky with the Julian Fiuhs' Orchestra. Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers could not be bettered , and his program notes provide important information for collectors. This is a major release!

Pristine continues their Maria Callas reissues with this 1956 EMI LaScala recording. It is a powerful performance in any way.The famed Walter Legge produced the recording and I cannot help but wonder how many edits there were in Callas' performance of Leonota. She is in great form although the higher register sounds forced and her sound hardly matches the beauty of other divas of her era. However, this susrely is n exciting performance, and Andrew Rose's cardful XR remstering produces a rich, satisfying audio picture. Those who love this Verdi masterpiece should investigate the amzing DVD of a 2019 Verona performance with Anna Netreko as Leonara (REVIEW).Of course all Callas collectors will wish to add this new Pristine versin to their coll library.

R.E.B. (August 2021)