One of the most important conductors of the early C20
Second of four volumes comprising the complete San Francisco recordings
"...The last pages confirm our impression of Alfred Hertz as a musician of exciting power and refinement, whose further work we await with no small anticipation." - Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, review of Hertz Volume 1
LISZTLes Préludes, Symphonic Poem No. 3 (15:37)
Recorded 27th February 1928 at the Scottish Rite Temple, Oakland Matrix nos: PCVE 42014-4R, 42029-1, 42031-3 and 42032-2
First issued on Victor 6863 and 6864
WAGNERParsifal: Prelude to Act I (13:46)
WAGNERParsifal: Good Friday Spell (Act III) (11:10)
Recorded 24th, 26th and 31st January, 1925 (Prelude)
and 31st January and 2nd February 1925 (Good Friday Spell) in Oakland Matrix nos: PC 61-2, 62-3, 63-2, 75-3, 76-3 and 78-2
First issued on Victor 6489 through 6500
WAGNERTristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act I (9:06)
WAGNERTristan und Isolde: Liebestod (Act III) (6:09)
Recorded 20th April 1926 (Prelude) and 22nd April 1926 (Liebestod) in Oakland Matrix nos: PCVE 169-3 and 170-3; PBVE 175-3 and 176-3
First issued on Victor 6585 and 1169
BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G minor (orch. Parlow) (2:38)
BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No. 6 in D major (orch. Parlow) (3:20)
Recorded 13th April 1927 in the Columbia Theatre, San Francisco Matrix nos: PBVE-248-2 and 249-1
First issued on Victor 1296
The present collection offers a good example of the rapid development of recording technology during the 1920s, as well as Hertz’s misfortune to have been at the tail-end of obsolescent methods. When the Victor Talking Machine Company’s mobile recording unit arrived in San Francisco in January, 1925, acoustic recording was just on the verge of being replaced. By March, Victor would begin using the new electrical method for all its sessions. Indeed, their first electrically recorded Red Seal release (Cortot performing Schubert and Chopin) was Victor 6502, just two catalog numbers after the final disc of Hertz’s Parsifal excerpts.
For their next visit (April, 1926), the Victor engineers brought electrical equipment, but continued to use a small studio and what appears to be acoustic-style tuba reinforcement of the bass line for Hertz’s Tristan recordings. Coupled with the fuzzy sound of the loud passages, the overall result is more comparable to the 1925 electric orchestrals Victor had been producing than the more open, natural sound afforded Stokowski the Philadelphia Orchestra in a session held two months later in the Academy of Music (two Strauss waltzes on Victor 6584). The brief passage linking the end of the Prelude with the beginning of the Liebestod is omitted in this version, probably due to timing issues related to Victor’s decision to issue them separately on one 12-inch and one 10-inch disc.
By the time of the April, 1927 San Francisco sessions, the recordings had been moved to a larger hall, and a warm, full acoustic was provided for the Hungarian Dances, which Hertz dispatches with tremendous vitality and élan. The recording of Les Préludes from the following February, however, is hobbled by an acoustically-compromised dubbing on the first side, (which was, unfortunately, the only way it was released). The performance itself rivals Mengelberg’s more famous Concertgebouw version from the following year.
The sources for the present transfers were the original arch-label discs for the Parsifal sides (their only form of issue); pre-war “Gold” label pressings for the Tristan and Hungarian Dances; and scroll-label “Z” pressings for Les Préludes. The severe pitch fluctuations in the original Tristan sides have been corrected in this transfer.
Alfred Hertz (July 15, 1872– April 17, 1942), a German conductor born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Hertz first came to prominence conducting Wagner at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Some of the performances he conducted were experimentally recorded by the Met's librarian Lionel Mapleson on what are now known as the Mapleson Cylinders and later issued on LP. He later became music director of the San Francisco Symphony, from 1915 to 1930 receiving praise and a cover story in Time for his leadership and accomplishments.
Hertz led the San Francisco Symphony's first recordings, for the Victor Talking Machine Company, from 1925 to 1930. He also conduced the orchestra in its first radio broadcasts, beginning in 1926. After 1930, Hertz guest conducted the orchestra. Hertz spent much of later years in Berkeley, California, but died in San Francisco, California at age 69.