DVORAK: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104; Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World” — Antonio Janigro, cello/ Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra/Erich Kleiber — Archipel

by | Sep 9, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

DVORAK: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104; Symphony No. 9 in E
Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World” — Antonio Janigro, cello/ Cologne
Radio Symphony Orchestra/Erich Kleiber

Archipel ARPCD 0329  79:26  (Distrib. Qualiton) ***:

This reissue devoted to conductor Erich Kleiber (1890-1956) and his
powerful sway in the music of Dvorak had a good reputation as a
Discocorp LP some twenty years ago. Archipel’s reprocessing is sturdy
but suffers some sound compression, and there is a bit of shatter in
the high notes. Five years ago, Naxos brought out Kleiber’s brisk
reading of the New World Symphony from 1929 with the Berlin State Opera
Orchestra (8.110907), a performance whose quick speeds are actually
surpassed by his Cologne interpretation of 16 November 1954. Only the
Largo movement enjoys a slightly broader tempo, with Kleiber’s treating
the famous string quartet sequence like a continuo in the midst of
brightly colored concerto grosso. Likely taken directly from the LP (a
repeated 1-bar phrase in the first movement sounds like an LP nick), I
cannot become too excited about the sound here, either; despite the
live broadcast excitement, the opening strings and cor anglais seem to
emerge from a telephone booth under water. But the phrasing and the
mystical aura reveal Kleiber capable of the same romantic intensity as
Toscanini. The flexible pulsation between strings and winds is pure
magic; the driven-ness of the performance, even given its occasional
rubati a la Mengelberg, is staggering. A real tour-de-force for
Kleiber, who could imbue enough drama into anything he led to make it
reverberate like Beethoven.

I had the privilege of seeing and hearing cellist-conductor Antonio
Janigro (1918-1989) perform at Emory University in Atlanta in the late
1980s, leading his I Solisti di Zagreb ensemble. I presented him, for
his autograph, a copy of the Soria RCA recording of the Strauss Don
Quixote with Fritz Reiner, which he relished showing a few of his
colleagues. The Dvorak Concerto (23 March 1955) is elegant and
colossal, with Janigro’s tone in luxurious colors. The Adagio ma non
troppo clearly focuses on the solo, with the woodwinds chirruping and
warbling harmoniously. Kleiber, never one to dawdle, urges the
orchestral tissue forward, but without losing one drop of intricate
layered sentiment. Oboe and flute conspire with cello and tympani for
gorgeous effects. The recorded sound is clean, much improved upon what
seems the artificial constraints of the symphony’s acoustics. The
virile, elastic beauty of Janigro’s playing, the nobility and
resolution of the concerto’s realization more than compensate for any
audiophile’s quibbles with the lack of sonic pungency. Not for
“collectors” only.

–Gary Lemco

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