Josef Krips Edition I = BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61; Coriolan Overture, Op. 62; Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 – Isaac Stern, violin /Orchestre National de la RTF/ Orchestre National de l’ORT (Op. 21)/Josef Krips – Cascavelle VEL 3154, 76:03 [Distr. By Albany] ****:
Cascavelle begins an extended tribute on disc to Austrian conductor Josef Krips (1902-1974) with Beethoven performances from 18 September 1958 and 28 August 1965 (Op. 62) with two French ensembles no less popular with colleagues Wolfgang Sawallisch and Carl Schuricht. The 1807 C Minor Coriolan Overture projects a particularly sinewy aspect, muscular and singularly driven, though without quite the manic fury of Furtwaengler. The long melodically elastic lines from the RTF strings prove as warm as they are resolute. Recall that in 1960 Krips recorded the complete Beethoven symphony cycle with the London Symphony Orchestra for the Everest label, so his Symphony No. 1–captured in fine sound by Yvan Devries–emanates the classical sense of architecture that characterizes the best Krips work. What begins as a symphonic opus in the Haydn mode soon reveals a girth and harmonic audacity astonishing and new. A hearty serene leisure invests even the rapid passages and occasional explosions of sound as Beethoven’s stretta ascend to the first movement repeat. The microphone placement seems to lie amidst the lyric woodwinds, given the articulation of the oboe, flute, bassoons, and clarinets, all underlined by a “present” tympani player.
Krips takes the Andante cantabile con moto at a spirited pace, the emphasis on lyrical articulation and the interplay of strings, winds, horns, and tympani. More earthy, the Menuetto bears all the earmarks of a Haydn scherzo, the horns punctuating an open-air spirited velocity. The serenade quality of the trio section enjoys a bouncy insouciance that makes its repetition a carefree delight. The tenor, however, remains muscular–it is not Rossini nor a clone of Mozart. It is the finale, however, that receives the benefit of the Krips light hand: a deft and eminently clear sonority dominates, especially as the bassoon voices come through. If we did not know better, we might guess this voluptuous music and its lofty harmony were from another Austrian master: Schubert.
For the Violin Concerto, Krips calls upon the lyric resources of Russian-American virtuoso Isaac Stern (1920-2001), then in his prime and actively practicing to maintain his tonal accuracy. The Krips fabric for the first movement keeps us alert to the rhythmic pulse at all times, only so the violin–with its indication to play “sempre perdendosi”–makes us forget the rhythmic stricture that melts before the song of Orpheus. Grand and leisurely, the two musicians and their French ensemble make no heavy, philosophical statements or overblown rhetoric. Stern’s tone is thin and piercing, with none of “flabbiness” that corrupted his style in the 1960s. Again, this does not deny the elastic architecture and frothy power that reigns supreme in this nuanced Apollinian rendition. A refined G Major Larghetto–in which Stern, French horn, and bassoon make some lovely harmony together in the form of gracious variations–gives way to a spirited Rondo best described as “fraternal” in every sense. The lucidity and brightness of phrase, the brio which invests the inventive dance, transports us without heaviness or mannerism. The Paris audience, too, has caught the humane spirit, and so affectionately reveres Stern, Krips, and the Orchestre National with all due applause.
— Gary Lemco
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