Hubert Wendel is the supreme idealistic Romantic.  He believes music should "sing" and  expects scores to have a "rebirth" in performance, that interpreters should "awake dead notes lying on the paper." It is logical that he would have great admiration for masters of music who show individuality, understanding of the music and imagination.  He champions Willem Mengelberg, Wilhelm Furtw”ngler, Edwin Fischer, Wanda Landowska, Alexander Brailowsky and Karl Münchinger.  Now living in Alsace, Wendel  first heard of Mengelberg from his organ teacher, Pierre Vidal, whose ideas of interpretation matched those of his young student's.  At one time Wendel hosted a series of French radio broadcasts of historic Mengelberg performances. He now teaches organ and piano in a music school as well as giving several organ concerts each year.

Wendel's aim "is to make available the greatest part of Mengelberg's recordings in optimal sound quality."  He doesn't divulge his sources but from the quality of the result it is obvious he has access to master discs/tapes, "the best possible sound source" as he put it.  Wendel says that no filtering was used in these transfers (although it would seem there must be some to eliminate the sound of the needle in the groove heard on just about all 78rpm  disks).  A de-clicking  process was utilized "to eliminate those noises that were disturbing for the ear" and "dynamics were restored whenever we found it necessary."  The end result sonically is equal to most other transfers of these historic performances.  Some collectors don't object to a bit of surface noise --it sort of makes it sound more "natural" considering the source.  Wendel's transfers have little of this, yet there is no loss of brilliance in orchestral sound.  Most Mengelberg admirers probably will already have many of these performances.  However, there is no question that these would be a worthy addition to any collection.  

There is an awkward problem in packaging.  None of the CDs has program notes, just a listing of the works, soloists and timings for each track along with recording dates.  Each CD jewel box cover has a different photograph of Mengelberg.  The disks themselves have no content information, only a photo of Mengelberg, the same one used on the cover -- so, if you are playing more than one, you'll have to "match the picture" to make sure you get them back in the correct jewel cases.  There are many fine photos of Mengelberg, some informal,  to be seen in this series.

Most of the CDs have generous playing time, but not all.  The 3 CDs devoted to St. Matthew Passion also could easily have included the two Bach cantatas instead of a separate disk for the latter.  It would have been logical to have  Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer on the same disk as Symphony No. 4.  Vol. 8 is particularly valuable as it contains Beethoven's Emperor with pianist Cor de Groot recorded during a concert Nov. 9, 1942.  Wendel's initial release of this included a few minutes taken from de Groot's early Philips Hague recording with Van Otterloo conducting, explaining that acetates for  three sections were too damaged to use.  He had very skillfully edited in similar parts from the  commercial recording.  The Emperor in Vol. 8 now is totally the live performance. Vol. 15 also is fascinating, with both conductor and soloist (Gieseking) in unusual repertory, Rachmaninoff's Second and Third Concertos.  Concerto No. 2 is music-making on the grandest scale, a performance in which Gieseking impetuously tosses in an upward glissando at the end of the final cadenza.  His Concerto No. 3 is a wild performance, far from note-perfect, but tremendously exciting.

These CDs are not inexpensive.  However, considering quality and content, they are worth their price.  A single CD costs about US $14 with reasonable shipping charges; if you order more than seven there is no shipping charge.  Complete order information is on Wendel's site: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/mengelberg/

Here is a complete list of what currently is available (as of June 2001) all with the Concertgebouw Orchestra unless otherwise indicated:

Volume I (57:43)
Bach:  Cantatas BWV 202 & 57 (To van der Sluys and Jo Vincent, sopranos; Max Kloos, baritone) (rec. live April 17, 1939 and Nov. 7, 1940)
Volume 2 (67:30)
Beethoven:  Symphony Nos. 4 (live rec. April 25, 1940 - opening measures missing); Symphony No. 5 (live rec. April 18, 1940)
Volume 3 (71:31)
Hindemith:  Violin Concerto (rec. live world premiere March 14, 1940).
Strauss:  Death & Transfiguration (rec. 1942).  Don Juan (rec. Dec. 12, 1940)
Volume 4 (72:51)
Bach:  Suite No. 2 in B Minor (June 2, 1931 rec. and live performance of April 17, 1939, both with Hubert Barwahser).  Concerto in F Minor BWV 1056 (Agi Jambor, live April 17, 1939). Concerto for Two Violins BWV 1043 (Louis Zimmermann & Ferdinand Helmann, 1935 rec.). Air from Suite No. 3 (Dec. 21, 1937)
Volume 5
Dvorák:  Cello Concerto (Maurice Gendron/Paris Radio Orch. rec. live Jan. 16, 1944).  Schumann:  Piano Concerto (Emil von Sauer, rec. live Oct. 10, 1940).
Volume 6
Franck:  Symphony in D Minor (rec. live Oct. 3, 1940)).  Symphonic Variations (Walter Gieseking, rec. live Oct. 31, 1940)).  PsychČ (rec. Jan. 1938).
Volume 7
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 3 (live April 14, 1940, mvts. 2, 3 & 4).  Symphony No. 8  (live April 18, 1940).
Volume 8
Beethoven:  Piano Concerto No. 5 (Cor de Groot, live Nov. 9, 1942).  Mozart:  Piano Concerto No. 19 (Willem Andriessen, rec. live Oct. 13, 1940).
Volume 9 (71:45)
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 9 (To van der Sluys, sop; Suze Luger, contralto; Louis van Tulder, tenor; Willem Ravelli, bass; Toonkunstkoor, rec live May 31, 1938)
Volume 10 (65:18)
Brahms:  Violin Concerto (Hermann Krebbers, live April 13, 1943).  Academic Festival Overture (rec. May 30, 1930). Tragic Overture (rec. April 1942).
Volume 11 (71:48)
Dvorak:  Symphony No. 9 (rec. April 1941).  Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia (rec. April 1941).  Tchaikovsky:  Serenade for Strings (rec. Nov. 1938)
Volume 12 (there are three CDs identified as Vol. 12 -- 52:54/52:57/57:41)
Bach: St. Matthew Passion (Karl Erb, tenor; William Ravelli, bass; Ilona Durigo, alto; Louis van Tuldern, tenor; Herman Schey, bass; Amsterdam Toonkunst Koor, rec. live April 2, 1939).
Volume 13 (70:54)
Beethoven:  Violin Concerto (Guila Bustabo, live. May 6, 1943).  R–ntgen:  Six Netherlands Dances (live Nov. 10, 1940).  Liszt:  Les PrČludes (rec. June 1929).
Volume 14 (64:28)
Brahms:  Symphony No. 1 (live Oct. 13, 1940).  Mahler:  Songs of a Wayfarer (Hermann Schey, baritone) (live Nov. 23, 1939).
Volume 15 (71:03)
Rachmaninoff:  Piano Concerto No. 2 (live Oct. 31, 1940).  Piano Concerto No. 3 (live March 28, 1940) (Walter Gieseking)
Volume 16 (61:20)
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 7 (live April 25, 1940). Fidelio Overture (live April 28, 1940).  Coriolan Overture (rec. June 1, 1931).  Overture, Allegretto & Finale from The Creatures of Prometheus (rec. 1942).
Volume 17 (59:46)
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 6 (live April 21, 1940). Leonore Overture No. 3 (rec. May 30, 1930). Egmont Overture (live April 29, 1943).
Volume 18 (56:06)
Tchaikovsky:  Symphony No. 4 (rec. June 1929).  1812 Overture (rec. April 1940).
Volume 19 (57:30)
Mahler:  Symphony No. 4  (Jo Vincent, soprano) (live Nov. 9, 1939)
Volume 20 (79:52)
Tchaikovsky:  Symphony No.5 (rec. July 11, 1940).  Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Conrad Hansen and the Berlin PO, rec. July 11, 1940) (plus 5:05  Mengelberg interview rec. Feb. 8, 1938)
Volume 21 (71:49)
Ravel: Daphnis & Chloe Suite No. 2 (live Oct. 6, 1938).  Debussy:  Afternoon of a Faun (rec. Nov. 30, 1938).  Wagner:  Prelude to Lohengrin (rec. June 10, 1927). Tannh”user Overture (live Oct. 27, 1940). Prelude to Die Meistersinger (rec. 1940).  Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (live April 19, 1943).
Volume 22 (66:27)
Brahms:  A German Requiem (Jo Vincent, sop; Max Kloos, baritone/Amsterdam Toonkunst Koor, live Nov. 7, 1940)
Volume 23 (61:46)
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 1 (live April 14, 1940).   Symphony No. 2 (live April 21, 1940).
Volume 24 (63:29)
Tchaikovsky:  Symphony No. 6 (rec. April 22, 11941). Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (rec. May 30, 1930).
Volume 25 (55:26)
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (rec. April 21, 1941).  Berlioz:  Three excerpts from The Damnation of Faust (live March 21, 1943).
Volume 26 (63:03)
Mozart:  Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Nov. 1942). Chopin:  Piano Concerto No. 2 (Theo van der Pas, live April 9, 1943).  Liszt:  Piano Concerto No. 1 (Marinus Flipse, live Feb. 27, 1944).
Volume 27 (74:10)
Schubert:  Symphony No. 8 (live Nov. 27, 1939).  Symphony No. 9 (live Dec. 19, 1940).

The next two issues will contain Schubert's music for Rosamunde, Dvorák's Violin Concerto (Maria Neuss), Kodály's Hary Janos Suite and the 1940 live recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

The 1940 Beethoven symphonies were previously issued years ago on Philips LPs and CDs, as well as in a Music & Arts set  (CD 1005) -- except the latter  included a performance of No. 9  from May 2, 1940 instead of the May 31, 1938 performance in the Wendel series. When Philips first issued Mengelberg's Beethoven series they also included the 1940 performance.

We are fortunate to have a wealth of Mengelberg CDs available.   Check out ClassicalCDReviews:

  Mengelberg Telefunken Beethoven Recordings
  Mengelberg complete Columbia Recordings
  Mengelberg newly discovered Beethoven/Brahms (TAHRA)
  Mengelberg - The Live Recordings
  Mengelberg - Maestro Appassionato

There are a number of other individual reviews/commentaries on this site.  Look for "Mengelberg" in the search engine for a complete list.