RACHMANINOFF:  Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 (rec. Oct. 31, 1940).  TRAPP:  Piano Concerto, Op. 26 (rec. Oct. 24, 1935).
Walter Gieseking, pianist/Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Willem Mengelberg


PIJPER:  Cello Concerto (Marix Loevensohn, rec. Nov. 22, 1936).  WILLEM MENGELBERG:  Preludium on the Dutch National Anthem (New York Phil. rec. April 14, 1924).  VALERIUS-WAGENAAR:  Wir treten zum Beten (rec. Nov. 30, 1938).  DOPPER:  Ciaconna gotica (rec. April 9, 1940).  RÖNTGEN:  Two Old Dutch Dances (rec. Nov. 11/13, 1940).  ANDRIESSEN:  Magna res est amor.  RUDOLF MENGELBERG:  Salve Regina, Op. 20 (Jo Vincent, sop. rec. April 9, 1940).  WAGENAAR:  Cyrano de Bergerac Overture, Op. 23 (rec. April 16, 1942).  MARNIX VAN ST. ALDEGONDE:  Wilhelmus van Nassauen (rec. Nov. 30, 1938).
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Willem Mengelberg

These two CDs features two fascinating—and essential—recordings for the Mengelberg collector, two live performances never before issued on CD: concertos by Trapp (for piano) and Pijper (for cello). The piano concerto by German composer Max Trapp (1887-1971) apparently is the oldest known live Mengelberg recording, dating from October 24, 1935.Gieseking promoted this concerto and gives a vivid performance. Unfortunately even his artistry and Mengelberg's careful accompaniment cannot make much of this pleasant but forgettable three-movement concerto, now totally absent from the concert scene. From 1930 to 1940 Trapp's symphonic music was conducted by Bruno Walter and Wilhelm Furtw”ngler as well as Mengelberg but it, too, is now a thing of the past. Gieseking's highly-charged  individual performance of the Rachmaninoff is impetuous, one never would expect from a pianist known for his Debussy and Ravel. In this performance the pianist was so "carried away" that at the end of the final cadenza he impetuously added an unwritten glissando—which turns out to be highly effective indeed. This recording has been issued before (particularly on Music & Arts, coupled with an undisciplined but fascinating live performance of the same composer's Concerto No. 3 with Mengelberg {M&A CD 250}).

The second CD of music by Dutch composers features Telefunken recordings made from 1938-1942, all issued in 1988 on a now discontinued Teldec CD (243 723) in disappointing transfers.The new Audiophile Classics CD is outstanding in this respect, particularly Dopper's magnificent Gothic Chaconne recorded in1940, surely one of Mengelberg's supreme recordings. But the real prize here is the Cello Concerto by Willem Pijper (1894-1947), from a concert Nov. 22, 1936, said to be the conductor's earliest extant radio broadcast recording. This might have been the premiere of the work, as it had been composed earlier that year. The occasion was the farewell of Marix Loevensohn who for many years was principal cellist of the Orchestra. It's an attractive 14-minute work worthy of repeated hearings. This is the original version; the composer revised it in the last year of his life lightening the rather thick orchestration. Loevensohn plays it brilliantly, and the sound quality is  amazingly natural considering that it was recorded more than seven decades ago. A plus is a brief (1:44) speech by Mengelberg praising the cellist and his years of performance with the Concertgebouw.

Both CDs highly recommended; it's unfortunate the price isn't lower..

R.E.B. (April 2001)