|| London Symphony Orchestra
Leo Blech, conductor
Studio recordings, 1931
Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn
Additional pitch stabilisation by Andrew Rose
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Leo Blech
Total duration: 77:50
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Download ID: 1849884-85
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Leo Blech's 1931 recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra
A fine cross-section of material in Mark Obert-Thorn's 50th Pristine Audio transfer release
- MOZART Les petits riens, K.299b - Ballet [score]
Matrices: 2B 1515-2 and 1516-2 • First issued on HMV DB 1676
- MOZART Minuet from Divertimento No. 17 in D major, K.334 [score]
Matrix: 2B 1197-1 • First issued on HMV DB 1714
- CHERUBINI Anacréon - Overture [notes / score]
Matrices: 2B 1190-2 and 1191-1 • First issued on HMV DB 1674
- WEBER Oberon - Overture [notes / score]
Matrices: 2B 1511-2 and 1512-2 • First issued on HMV DB 1675
- MENDELSSOHN Calm sea and prosperous voyage, Overture, Op. 27 [notes / score]
Matrices: 2B 1523-2, 1524-2 and 1525-1 • First issued on HMV DB 1671 and 1672
- AUBER Le domino noir - Overture [notes / score]
Matrices: 0B 1517-2 and 1518-2 • First issued on HMV DA 1264
- OFFENBACH Orpheus in the Underworld - Overture [notes / score]
Matrices: 2B 1194-2 and 1195-2 • First issued on HMV DB 1673
- BRAHMS Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 [notes / score]
Matrices: 2B 1193-2 and 1192-2 • First issued on HMV DB 1670
- GRIEG Norwegian Dances, Op. 35 [score]
Matrices: 2B 1519-2, 1520-1, 1521-2 and 1522-1 • First issued on HMV DB 1668 and 1669
London Symphony Orchestra
Leo Blech conductor
FLAC downloads include full scores of all works
REVIEW - CHERUBINI Anacréon - Overture (HMV 78rpm release, 1938)
Cherubini (1760-1842), an old friend of my youth, is remembered by only the overtures of his operas. I should like to see one of them. Perhaps this classical soul was too easily satisfied with a libretto- -a weakness that has put many an opera on the shelf, though I do not think it is entirely crippling. "Anacreon, or Fugitive Love," came out in 1803, and went in very soon after. The overture is the kind of music that, I think, can be heard now and again with brisk pleasure. There is a pompous chordal preface, and then some sweet wood-wind calls and answers. The material deals considerably in one or two figures (mark the quiet start, and the long crescendo, a plan which Rossini used so freely). The music is no brain-stormer, or barn-stormer rather, a mostly-Mozartean spirit working with French needs in view. Anacreon may not be the ideal subject for an opera, though he sang of themes that filled so many stages—pleasure, the sportive life, lyricism, and the grape (without a headache) ; not forgetting lovely woman, bless her, who, as the poet sings, denied the weapons of all other creatures, is given " Beauty ; this Both her arms and armour is : She, that can this weapon use, Fire and sword with ease subdues." And so forth (but distrust the too trustful Moore's translations of what he thought was Anacreon). Dr. Blech always turns out reliable, tasteful work. The level of recording is such as my fibre can endure, and I enjoy. Enough, but not too much.
W.R.A., The Gramophone, April 1938 (link)
This program presents a wide cross-section of Leo Blech’s repertoire, from opera and operetta to ballet and concert music. Blech had recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra before (a pioneering Schubert 9th in 1927); but the impetus for having the present series done with them rather than with his usual Berlin State Opera Orchestra may have been HMV’s contract with the LSO, which mandanted a certain number of sessions each year with the ensemble.
Over three days of recording in both Kingsway and Queen’s Hall, Blech led the orchestra in some 23 sides, all but three of which are presented here. (The odd side, the Mozart Divertimento Minuet, had to wait until the following year for Blech to record a discmate with the Berlin Philharmonic.) The missing items from the London sessions, all by Mendelssohn, were two orchestrated “Songs without Words” on a 12-inch side, and the finale of the Italian Symphony on two 10-inch sides. (Longtime Blech reissue collectors may have them on the 1978 Past Masters LP, PM-14.)
The sources for the transfers of the Cherubini and Mendelssohn works, as well as the last two Grieg dances, were American Victor “Z” pressings. The Mozart ballet music and the Brahms Serenade movements came from pre-war Victor “Gold” label pressings, while the first two Grieg dances came from a later “Silver” label disc. The Weber overture was transferred from an Italian Voce del Padrone pressing, and the remaining items came from British HMV shellacs.
An electrical problem in the original recording sessions produced low frequency sputters and pops on several of the masters. These are particularly noticeable in the quiet passages on the first side of the Mendelssohn. I have removed the worst of them and attempted to filter the rest, but some of the noise remains on a few of the recordings.
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Biographical notes from Wikipedia
Leo Blech (21 April 1871 – 25 August 1958) was a German opera composer and conductor who is perhaps most famous for his work at the Königliches Schauspielhaus (later the Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden)) from 1906 to 1937, and later as the conductor of Berlin's Städtische Oper from 1949 to 1953. Blech was known for his reliable, clear, and elegant performances, especially of works by Wagner, Verdi, and Bizet's Carmen (which he conducted over 600 times), and for his sensitivity as an accompanist.
Early life and education
Blech was born to a Jewish family in Aachen, Rhenish Prussia. After attending the Hochschule in Berlin where he studied piano with Ernst Rudorff and composition from Woldemar Bargiel he took private lessons with Engelbert Humperdinck.
After working briefly in sales, Blech earned a position as conductor at the Stadttheater Aachen in 1893. From 1899 to 1906, he conducted at the Neues Deutsches Theater in Prague, before moving to the Königliches Schauspielhaus in Berlin. In 1913 he was promoted to General Music Director. Between 1923 and 1926, Blech took various positions at opera houses in Berlin and Vienna, including the Deutsches Opernhaus, the Volksoper Berlin, and the Vienna Volksoper. In 1926 he returned to the Schauspielhaus, now called the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where he remained until Adolf Hitler's anti-semitic policies forced him in 1937 into exile in Riga, where he was conductor of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
With an eye to the substantial German and foreign reputation of Blech Hermann Göring issued an order to major Karl Heise, head of the Schutzpolizei in Riga from September 1941, to issue an exit visa for Blech for neutral Sweden - making Blech the only Jewish survivor of Riga to escape by such high level intervention.
During and after World War II, Blech conducted at the Royal Opera, Stockholm. In 1949 he returned to Berlin to conduct at the Städtische Oper, where he worked until 1953. One of his pupils, conductor Herbert Sandberg, married his daughter Lisel.
- Aglaja (opera, 1893)
- Cherubina (opera, 1894)
- Rappelkopf (opera, unperformed)
- Gavotte for cello and piano Op.10b 1902
- Das war ich (opera, Dresden 1902, text from R. Batka)
- Alpenkönig und Menschenfeind (reworking of opera from Raimund, Dresden 1903)
- Aschenbroedel (opera, Prague 1905)
- Versiegelt (opera, Hamburg 1908)
- Die Strohwitwe (operetta, Hamburg 1920)
- Von den Englein (female chorus)
Blech also composed orchestral works, choral works, chamber works, and songs.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Blech
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