Boult Conducts BBC, Volume 2 = WEBER: Der Freischutz; BRAHMS: Tragic Overture; 3 Hungarian Dances; WAGNER: Overture to Die Meistersinger; Prelude to Tristan und Isolde; BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival; SIBELIUS: Oceanides – BBC Sym./Sir Adrian Boult – Dutton

by | Apr 5, 2007 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Boult Conducts BBC, Volume 2 = WEBER: Overture to Der Freischutz; BRAHMS: Tragic Overture, Op. 81; 3 Hungarian Dances; WAGNER: Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg; Prelude to Tristan und Isolde; BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9; SIBELIUS: The Oceanides, Op. 73; Night Ride and Sunrise, Op. 55; BACH: Prelude in E Major (arr. PICK-MANGIAGALLI) – BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Sir Adrian Boult – Dutton CDBP 9771, 76:52 (Distrib. Harmonia mundi) ****:

The second volume of classic inscriptions by Sir Adrian Boult (1889-1983) includes items taken from 1932-1936 sessions, when Boult’s style still resonated with his musical models, Nikisch, Richter, and Steinbach. These artists no less affected Toscanini’s musical personality. The Overture to Der Freischuetz, for instance, had been a Nikisch specialty, and Boult plays it (7 October 1932) for speed and tumultuous power. From the same day of recording come three Hungarian Dances, 19-21, by Brahms. Flute work proves quite giddy in the B Minor, a gypsy revel; muscular pulsation for the expressive Andante in E Minor; the syncopated finale to the set might invite Hollywood images of Transylvania. The Tragic Overture (30 May 1932) proceeds rather with single-minded literalism, relishing the tensions in the oboe, horn and strings; the influence may well derive from Max Fiedler as much as Fritz Steinbach. The quieter, canonic sections convey intimacy–especially in the violas and cellos–as well as orchestral finesse in the more agitated parts. The Berlioz (20 October 1933) is extroverted and audacious enough to be mistaken for the ever-sanguine Sir Thomas Beecham at the helm.

Wagner, a Nikisch trump card, loomed large in Boult’s repertoire, and the Meistersinger Overture (6 April 1933) unfolds with lyrical grace and vocal theatricality of phrase. Any historical collector might attribute its idiomatic sense of structure to the more lyrical of the Teutonic acolytes of the period, like Karl Muck or Fritz Busch. The Tristan Prelude (25 July 1932), while it benefits from the CEDAR process of noise reduction, still betrays some shellac noise. But the breadth of the conception, the chromatic web of sound and its layered unfolding, possesses sweeping, mystic power. Collectors well recall Boult’s major contribution to Sibelius lore with his records for the Vanguard label. The Oceanides and Night Ride and Sunrise were inscribed on the same day, 23 January 1936, to great effect. The Night Ride and Sunrise exerts an unbroken, kinetic force, culminating in some lyric ecstasy. Gorgeous horn work throughout. The former enjoys–in exquisite restoration–an alternately churning and chirping energy close to that in the Sixth Symphony. The arrangement (23 May 1933) of the popular Bach E Major Violin Partita Prelude (Koussevitzky liked to show off his BSO strings with it too) makes a fascinating aperitif to a splendid program. This is a virtuoso ensemble led by a polished conductor whose legacy continues to reveal his versatility of musical styles.

— Gary Lemco

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