A third volume of Fabien Sevitzky recordings brings us the conductor’s penchant for dance music, restored in vivid sound by Mark Obert-Thorn.
Fabien Sevitzky: Indianapolis Symphony, Vol. 3 = BRAHMS: Hungarian Dances: No. 1 in g minor; No. 3 in F Major; No. 7 in F Major; DVORAK: Slavonic Dances, Op. 46: No. 8 in g minor; No. 2 in e minor; No. 4 in F Major; No. 1 in C Major; ENESCU: Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11: No. 1 in A Major; No. 2 in D Major; KHACHATURIAN: Gayaneh – Ballet Suite – Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra/ Fabien Sevitzky – Pristine Audio PASC 520, 78:56 [www.pristineclassical.com] ****:
The spirit of the dance provides the rubric for restoration engineer Mark Obert-Thorn’s latest collection of Fabien Sevitzky (1893-1967) recordings, 1942 and 1953. The rarest of the performances, of the Brahms Hungarian Dance triptych from 1942, derives from the shellacs that had not been reissued since their original incarnation. The slow tempo for the opening of the g minor Hungarian Dance—in the composer’s own orchestral transcription—enjoys a lushly thick, rubato-laden texture that explodes into ripe, gypsy figures. With the composer’s own arrangement of the No. 3 in F by Sevitzky, we might ascribe the energetic, impulsive style of realization to Bruno Walter, though Sevitzky injects his individual touch by complementing the chirping winds and muted strings with a magical celesta solo. The No. 7 in F derives from the orchestration of Martin Schmeling, a quirky combination of Viennese and gypsy figures in explosive juxtaposition, with a something of a Hollywood flair.
The Dvorak Slavonic Dances (22-23 January 1953) burst upon the scene with the boisterous No. 8 in g minor, a Furiant in vivid Technicolor. The clarity of orchestral definition, courtesy of Capitol Records, competes with the brilliant vibrancy of the Talich and Rodzinski readings. The No. 2 in e minor, a nostalgic Dumka, sways and pines with a layered, suave luster, then it hurtles forward with piquant zest. The No. 4 in F Major, a Sousedska, provides an expansive moment of rustic poise in the outer sections. The Indianapolis horn and battery sections make their presence felt, while the central section breathlessly runs forward momentarily into a plaintive viola, only to burst forward once more. The No. 1 in C Major has always expressed, in its fervent Furiant vigor, the sheer exuberance of Czech life. The Sevitzky rendition does this generous spirit full justice.
Each of us has his own favorite version of the Enescu 1901 Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A, which might even include that of Eugene Ormandy from Philadelphia. Sevitzky plays its first period for leisurely, erotic color, much in the tradition of the composer’s own recording. The modal syntax and sliding harmonies, complemented by all sorts of ripe colors, from triangle and viola, snare drum, cymbals, and harp prove voluptuous and irresistible. The rhythms virtually droop into one another. With the achievement of a huge pedal point, the music surges forward in wild, dervish tempo, affording the latter period a brassy, galloping, manic impetus. The D Major Rhapsody earns its singular appeal through a constant iteration of lovely songs, virtually a pageant of wistful melody. Inward and elegiac, the music immediately engages the Indianapolis strings in a manner more reminiscent of Smetana than Dvorak. Enescu proceeds into a canon, later joining with both a dance tune and a folk song, ending reflectively.
The Gayaneh Suite of Aram Khachaturian, a suite of eight movements from the 1942 ballet, still manages to combine the two themes of romantic love and ardent nationalism. Sevitzky moves the ubiquitous Sabre Dance into the latter middle position, and he saves the infectious, primitive Lezghinka for last. Armenian, Kurdish, Ukrainian, Caucasian, and Georgian melodies and rhythmic impulses never cease to beguile, as do the instrumental timbres and colors that impart an exotic magic idiosyncratic o the gifted composer.