NIKOLAI SOKOLOFF - Complete Cleveland Orchestra recordings
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 524 (3 disks / 2 jewel boxes) TT: 3:00:20

ELGAR: Cello Concerto Op,. 85. The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38.
Jacqueline Du Pre, cello. / BBC Symphony Orchestra. Richard Lewis, tenor. Marjorie Thomas, mezzo-soprano. John Cameron, baritone. Hudderfield Choral Slociety / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond.

WAGNER: Good Friday Spell from Parsifal. VERDI: Te Deum, BRAHMS: Alto Rhapsody (Martha Lipton, alto ). MONTEVERDI-GHEDINI: Magnificat. HANDEL-MOLINARI: Largo from Xerses. BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op.15 (Rudolf Firkusny piano). HINDFEMITH: Concert Music for Strings and Brass.
Westminster Choir / New York Philharmonic / Guido Cantelli, cond.

LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat. Piano Concerto No. 2 in A. Années de Pelerinage. Deuzi`eme Année: Italie. Sonettos del Petrarca Nos.47, 104 and 123. WAGNER-LISZT: Tannhäuser Overture
Jorge Bolet, piano. Berlin Radio Sympohony Orchestra / Lawrence Foster, cond. (Concerto No. 1). Edu de Waart, cond.

The Cleveland Orchestra, founded in 1918, now is one of the finest in the country. Over the years they have been led by some of the greatest conductors of the century: Artur Rodzinski (1933-43), Erich Leinsdorf (1943-46), George Szell (1946-70), Lorin Maazel (1972-82), Christoph von Dohnányi (1984-2002) and Franz Welser-Möst beginning in 2002. Now, courtesy of Pristine, we can go back to the very beginning with this important 3-disk set of all of the orchestra's recordings made in its earliest years. The music director was Russian conductor Nikolai Sokoloff. Wealthy Cleveland civic leader Adella Prentiss Hughes wanted her home city to have an orchestra and hired Sokoloff for the job. They soon began a series of recordings for the Brunswick label, to comopete with Victor (which was recording Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia;hia Orchestra). and Columbia, for the classical music market. Recordings were made in three groups: acoustic made in 1924, early electric recordings began in 1926 using the "light-ray" process, which could not handle loud passages without distortion and eventually was abandoned. The final group of electric recordings began in 1928 including the first commercial recording of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2. Sokoloff had asked the composer if he would prepare a shorter version, Rachmaninoff agreed it would be useful, and this is what was recorded. We also have a complete performance of Schubet's Symphony No. 8. Most of the other works are truncated to fit onto one side of a disk. Orchestral playing is generally excellent with a touch of portamento here and there, but there are some brass mishaps that possibly should have been redone. Still, this is a fascinatingˆ glimpse into the earliest days of one of America's great orchestras, almost all now being released for the first time in masterful transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. An intriguing issue!

Pristine's Elgar set offers important live recordings. The Cello Concerto is from a BBC Ptoms concert in Royal Albert Hall August 14, 1962, Gerontius is from Huddersfield Town Hall November 24, 1961. Du Pre was at the beginning of her legendary tragically brief career; she was a champion of this lovely concerto and in 1965 made her first commercial recording, with Sir John Barbirolli and the London Symphony . There are many other live and commercial recordings of her performance. Sargent was a leading interpreter of Elgar, competing with Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir Adrian Boult. His performances in these broadcasts are exemplary. Gerontious was a favorite of his and he presented it often, usually with the same soloists. He made the first complete recording in 1945 (available on Pristine), and in 1955 made his second, with many of the same same performers as in this broadcast. This magnificent, reverent work is well represented on recordings, and this historic live performance is welcome.

Here is the third and final issue in the Pristine series of Guido Cantelli / New York Philharmonic broadcasts. Volume I featured Walter Gieseking playing Mozart's Concerto No. 21 and Rudolf Firkusny playing Beethoven Concerto No. 3 (REVIEW). Volume II featured Gieseking in Beethoven's Emperor, and Wilhelm Backhaus in Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 (REVIEW). The two concerts on this final release are from April1 and April 8, 1956, from Carnegie Hall and are the conductor's last concerts before leaving the United States. It was the only time he had conducted the Brahms and Verdi works. As with previous issues in this series, once again we are reminded of the tragic loss to the musical world when Cantelli died in a plane crash later that year. Andrew Rose's expert XR remastering provides a wide-range, natural audio picture.

Cuban-born virtuoso Jorge Bolet (1914 - 1990) studied with many legendary pianists including Josef Hoffman, Leopold Godowski, David Saperton and Moriz Rosenthal. Bolet specialized in virtuoso showpieces, particularly woks of Liszt. He became famous in his 1974 Carnegie Hall recital that featured Liszt's transcription of Wagner's Tannhaüser Overture; the concert was issued on RCA and remains in the catalog to this day.This Audite CD features live stereo recordings of Liszt, Concerto No. 1 from 1971 (Berlin Radio Orchestra / Lawrence Foster) , No. 2 from 1982 (Berlin Radio Orchestra / Edo de Waart), the other performances from 1973. Here is an opportunity for collectors to hear live performances by one of the major past pianists in repertory close to him.

R.E.B. (March 2018).



). The second set featured