Fritz Busch conducts = MENDELSSOHN, SCHUBERT, BEETHOVEN, WAGNER, ALVEN – Guild

by | Oct 4, 2010 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Fritz Busch = MENDELSSOHN: Overture, The Fair Melusina, OP. 32; Scherzo from Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20; BEETHOVEN: Overture to Egmont, OP. 84; SCHUBERT: Dance Suite for Orchestra (arr. Busch); WAGNER: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde; Prelude and Interlude from Die Meistersinger, Act III; ALVEN: Swedish Rhapsody, No. 1- Symphony Orchestra Winterthur (Mendelssohn)/Los Angeles Philharmonic/Konserthus Stiftelsens Orkester Maelmo/Fritz Busch

Guild GHCD 2366, 78:56 [Distr. by Albany] ****:


Guild continues to enhance the otherwise sparse recorded legacy of conductor Fritz Busch (1890-1951), especially documenting the post-WW II years, when he no longer maintained a contract with EMI.  The inscriptions from concerts offered here embrace two years, 1946 and 1949, of which his appearance in Los Angeles proves especially rewarding for collectors of this gifted musician.

Busch made his first visit to the Los Angeles Philharmonic on 7-8 March 1946, following two days of rehearsal, and he gleans from the orchestra a fervent response. The Egmont Overture may seem steadfast at first, but it quite assumes a ferocious momentum, proclaiming its cry of freedom with resolute pageantry. More refreshment follows, Busch himself having orchestrated (in 1944) a series of polonaise, ecossaise, menuet, and “noble” waltzes from Schubert’s massive keyboard legacy – a frothy assemblage, eminently Viennese in conception and execution. But the feral passion in Busch’s sense of the Great German Tradition comes to us by way of Wagner, in the form of Wagner’s Tristan Prelude and Liebestod, played with–what one critic of the period, Carl Bronson, called–“such feelings [taken]. . .to heights that were titanic and devastating.” The somber Prelude to Act III from Die Meistersinger imposes a more European sound on the LA Philharmonic, dark in hue and vividly clear in the low voices. The Dance of the Apprentices and Entry of the Masters enjoys a suave transparency, majestic sway and pomp quite apt for the celebration of music itself as a rite of passage.

Busch traveled to Winterthur, Switzerland in September 1949 to record for the Concert Hall Society, likely at the invitation of Volkmar Andreae. The Fair Melusina plays as a water piece whose gorgeous melody keeps ascending and adding various color flourishes. The middle section unleashes a stormy character that Busch keeps intact without sacrificing a steady sense of pulsation. Busch then embarked on a trip to Copenhagen and thence to Malmo–where he had first appeared in 1946–for a luncheon concert 30 October 1949.  Busch held an innate fondness for venues Scandinavian, his often sharing conducting duties in Denmark with Nicolai Malko. The Alfven Midsommarvaka–the Mid-summer Vigil--of 1903 receives a splendidly colorful performance, the ensemble’s having absorbed much of Busch’s own expansive temperament. With Busch, technical proficiency merged with a natural sincerity and affinity with diverse musical styles. Buoyant, athletic, and eminently “rural,” the music swaggers in dance rhythms that trip forever lightly in the heart.

— Gary Lemco

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