PROKOFIEV: Sonata No. 6, Op 92. Sonata No 9, Op 103. Four pieces from Cinderella. Legende, Op. 12. Visions fugitives Op. 22 (Nos. 2-6, 8, 9, 11, 14, 25).Piano pieces from Op. 4, 32, 62, 59, 62, 96.
Svitoslav Rrichter, piano
DIVOX CDX 266/3 (2 disks) TT: 66:31 / 46:03

WEBER: Preziosa Overture. Turandot Overture, Der Freischütz Overture. Der Behenscher der Geister Overture. Konzertstuck in F minor. MENDELSSOHN: Excerpts from A Mudsummer Night's Dream. Capriccio brillante Op 22.
Robert Casadesus, piaqno. Sudwestfunk-Orchester Baden-Baden / Hans Rosbaud, cond.
SWR CLASSICS CD 19040 TT: 79:40

ADDISON: Carte Blanche Ballet Suite. BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7, Op. 92. SAINT-SAËNS: Dance of the Priestesses. GOUNOD; Juliet's Dream.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.

VERDI: Un ballo in maschera
Jussi Björling (Riccardo). Zinka Milanov (Amelia). Alexander Svec (Renato). Bruna Castagnna (Ulrica). Stella Andrereva (Oscar). Normon Cordon (Sanuyel). Nicola Moscona (Tom). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orhestra / Ettore Panizza, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 140 (2 disks) TT: 2 hours 8:09

Sviatoslav Richter's discography is enormous, and fortunately we continue to find memorable live performances never before available. This set contains music of Prokofiev recorded in Tokyo's Bunka Kaikan Hall December 1980 and June 1981. Richter was a friend and associate of Prokofiev, and recorded much of his music. This new issue offers two of the great sonatas, excerpts from Visions fugitives, and an assortment of other short pieces. Performances are amazing (Suggestion diabolique is a fantastic display of virtuosity). These recordings were made on cassette, and producers apologize for audio quality. They didn't have to—sound is clear and natural enough to capture these major performances. This is an important release—music of Prokofiev in dazzling live performances by perhaps his greatest interpreter.

Distinguished conductor Hans Rosbaud (1892 - 1965) has made numerous recordings, many of which have been praised on this site, particularly music of Mahler and Sibelius. This new disc offers a collection of Weber overtures, 3 excerpts from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night;s Dream, and two performances featuring Robert Casadesus. The Weber overtures were issued previously, but the other works seem to be the conductors only recordings of the works. Casadesus favored Weber's brilliant Konzertstücke and recorded it with George Sell and the Cleveland Orchestra; there also are two other live performances available on disk. This seems to be the pianist's only recording of the Mendelssohn, which he plays with great style. All of these are studio broadcast performances; there is no applause. Audio is substandard, although piano sound is excellent. If your interest is the famous French pianist, this is for you.

Of much more interest is the third disk in Pristine's series of Sir Thomas Beecham live performances. The program begnis with music of British composer John Mervin Addison (1920 - 1998). Addison was famous for his film scores (incouding Tom Jones), and extensive TV music (including Murder, She Wrote). He cpomposed relatively little concert music, and here we have a suite of high-spirited music for a balet he wrote for Sadfler's Wells caloled Carte Blanche. It is a charming score that featured the xylophone. The major work is Beethoven's SymphonyNo. 7, given a dynamic, high-powered performance tha is quite thrioling. We alsohave the two encore pieces,all enthusiastically received by theRoyal Festival Hall audience November 8, 1959. The Addison and Beethoven prervioiusly were issued on BBC Legends, but the Pristine remastering of these mono recordings provides a surprisingly rich sonic picture. An important issue!

Pristine has issued another of those fabulous Met broadcasts, this time Verdi's Un ballo en maschera. A broadcast of December 14, 1940, it features two legendaryVerdi singers of the time: Jussi Bjöerling and Zinka Milanov, both in their prime. It is important as the famed Swedish tenor never made a commercial recording of Riccardo, one of his finest roles. The audio pickup was remarkably clear for its time, and Andrew Rose's remastering offers the ultimate of refinement of dated audio. However, this same performance already is available in the valuable Sony Verdi at the Met compilation, which also contains eight other operas from the great days at the Met (REVIEW). Their issue surely isn't as refined as the new Pristine, but the price is budget.

R.E.B. (August 2017)