Josef Krips Edition, Vol. 2 = WEBER: Overture to Oberon; SCHUBERT: Symphony No./ 9 in C Major, D. 944 “The Great” – Orchestre National de la RTF/Josef Krips – Cascavelle VEL 3155, 57:43 [Distr. By Albany] ****:
The Josef Krips Edition continues to enlarge the recorded legacy of this talented Austrian conductor, a musicians I had the distinct pleasure of having seen and heard twice, once at Lewisohn Stadium and once at Carnegie Hall, there collaborating with Shura Cherkassky in Prokofiev’s G Minor Piano Concerto. The twenty-year Krips association with the French National Radio Orchestra brings forth new fruits, 1954 and 1957, in music by romantics Weber and Schubert.
The Oberon Overture (10 October 1957) opens with its French horn call to Shakespeare’s enchanted forest, where all sorts of imaginative creatures run about. The fleet woodland conceit rambles and cavorts in high spirits, and the French ensemble sounds wonderfully alert to the niceties of nuance and rhythm. The major work, the Schubert Ninth (4 October 1954), likewise opens with a French horn call to a magnificent structure that seduced Krips twice to the recording studio: in London (1958) and Amsterdam (1952). The initial series of motifs breathes and sings as if Krips well wanted us to recall Schubert’s own debt to the Vienna Choir Boys. The subsequent girth and spiritual largesse of conception embrace something of the Mengelberg architecture, the tympani’s rolling under a seductive interplay of strings and inflamed woodwinds. The glories of the various swelling crescendi impart a Brucknerian magnanimity of sound upon us, that lilting church-chorale ethos intrinsically Viennese. Having established his basic pulsation, Krips drives the electric first movement as one might “alter the course of mighty rivers.” But listen to what Krips accomplishes with his ritard in the coda, for magisterial peroration!
No less luxurious, the Andante con moto proceeds with an air of grand mystery, oboe and French horn working together to produce a martial tune of indescribable bucolic longing. Like Furtwaengler, Krips takes an expansive view of the middle section, whose creamy resonance drips with nostalgia. That the Orchestre RTF plays with such fervor must account to life’s ironies: it was the Paris musicians in 1840 who had declared this very work unwieldy and unplayable! The contrapuntal furor reaches a white hot intensity, only to dissolve and project us, like Friedrich’s Wanderer, high above the mists and turmoil of tragic experience. Even the disruptions of violent dissonances cannot break the spell of an exalted laendler played for some transcendent idealized listener. Several commentators see in the Herculean Scherzo an homage to Beethoven, particularly to that composer’s Third and Ninth symphonies. Dance and song collaborate in fertile harmony, the tympani and low strings buttressing any number of chirrups and aerial curlicues in the woodwinds. The broad singing arch of the trio transcends anything like a “French” sound, so thoroughly has the Viennese spirit infiltrated the fluid momentum of the performance. The final Allegro vivace perfectly balances rhythmic necessity and febrile abandon that, from the galloping outset, we can feel palpably the absorption of the Paris audience into the sound mix, the best aspect of live broadcast performances. Rarely have French trumpets achieved the lithe transparency that Schubert requires. Krips may well have redeemed the Paris premier–bravo!
— Gary Lemco
Budapest Quartet Plays Brahms – String Quartets Nos. 2, 3; String Sextet No. 2; String Quintets Nos. 1, 2 – Pristine Audio
Another historic release from Pristine — Brahms, Budapest