Cantelli conducts Tchaikosvky
Superb new Mark Obert-Thorn transfers
FLAC downloads include full scores
The total effect of this recorded performance is the emphasising of the heroic side of Tchaikovsky's Symphony, and the minimising of its introspective side. In large measure this effect is due to the deliberate conception of the conductor, in some measure also to the character of the actual recording. Cantelli presents the E minor as a noble work (and nobly it is played, indeed, by the La Scala orchestra, with exceptionally adroit wind-chording). This conception is manifest in several ways, not least in the vigorous forward movement with which he sweeps the music along. The valse, oddly enough, sounds a little slow, but a metronome on a check soon showed that it was taken at the correct tempo marking, and this steady, unremitting pace allows nobility to what can be made to sound trivial, or at least sentimental. Most of all, we find this abatement of the tragic element in Tchaikovsky's mind in Cantelli's firm and far-seeing treatment of the motto theme, in its first presentation and especially in its returns on sides 5 and 7. The last movement he makes sound positively hopeful, encouraging rather than, as sometimes, merely making the best of things. All praise to the performance, then. As for the recording, no complaints can be made against its fullness and richness, nor against its power to fill a large room at a high dynamic level. On the other hand, from the opening notes on the clarinets one finds a booming quality, which needs care in handling though, on my set at least, it cannot be eliminated. It is a heavy piece of recording, distinctly tubby in places (e.g. the strings at first on side 3, though their tone later improves); the lower registers are so much stressed that on side 4 the 'cello melody overwhelms the oboe's counterpoint. Side 5 gives good balance, and side 6 too, though my copy gave considerable surface-noise. There is also some confusion when rapid orchestral passagework occurs; and it is not too much to say that the brass department dominates the whole symphony to an unnecessary degree. This was certainly an interesting musical experience.
H.F. - The Gramophone, April 1951 (review of original 78rpm issue) [link]
Mr. Cantelli has been winning golden opinions here. This is the first time I've heard him. In addition to the remarkable weight and warmth of tone, which is quite outstanding, I find the treatment worthy, in its all-through pull and power. (But how I longed for the LP system : few works make me so conscious of the crudity of the old endiscing.)
It was a happy thought of Balakiref's to urge Tchaikovsky to interpret Shakespeare. Romeo is one of the best things he ever did bearing in mind the composer's heavy, even turgid ideas of romance and his quicktouched, fiery imagination, this, we can allow, is the way to hurl oneself upon an 'immortal tragedy, too deep to speak about, but fit for a fantasy-tone-poem such as nobody could write better than Tchaikovsky. If we can give him his head, and not deny his right to illumine his beloved Shakespeare (as we are told Kean did) "by flashes of lightning," we can enjoy the lush valour and sentiment, chivalry and woe of this essay...
W.R.A. - The Gramophone, January 1952 (review of original 78rpm issue - excerpt) [link]
Many people still carry a torch for Guido Cantelli, the brilliant Italian conductor tragically lost in a plane crash in 1956. Cantelli was primed as Toscanini's successor, and would surely have gone on to great things, as a handful of surviving recordings suggests.
Here we present two excellent examples of his craft, in brand new transfers from mint sources by Mark Obert-Thorn. Cantelli's approach to the music of Tchaikovsky was exemplary, and won immediate plaudits, including this from The Gramophone in 1951:
"Most of all, we find this abatement of the tragic element in Tchaikovsky's mind in Cantelli's firm and far-seeing treatment of the motto theme, in its first presentation and especially in its returns on sides 5 and 7. The last movement he makes sound positively hopeful, encouraging rather than, as sometimes, merely making the best of things. All praise to the performance, then..."
notes from Wikipedia
Guido Cantelli (27 April 1920 – 24 November 1956) was an Italian orchestral conductor.
Born in Novara, Italy, Cantelli was named Musical Director of La Scala, Milan on 16 November 1956 but his promising career was cut short only one week later by his death at the age of 36 in an aircraft crash in Paris, France.
Cantelli studied at the Milan Conservatory in Italy and began a promising conducting career, which was interrupted by World War II, during which he was forced to serve in the Italian army, then placed in a German labor camp because of his outspoken opposition to the Nazis. He became ill and managed to successfully escape the camp. He resumed his musical career after the Allies liberated Italy. Toscanini saw Cantelli conduct at La Scala and was so impressed that he invited him to guest conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra in 1949.
In the course of his brief career, he had conducted not only in many of the most famous concert halls of Europe but also in the United States and South Africa. The famous conductor Arturo Toscanini was particularly impressed by him, and, in a note written to Cantelli's wife Iris in 1950 after four concerts where Cantelli had been a guest conductor with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, said:
I am happy and moved to inform you of Guido's great success and that I introduced him to my orchestra, which loves him as I do. This is the first time in my long career that I have met a young man so gifted. He will go far, very far.
Toscanini, who died less than two months after Cantelli's plane crash, was never told of Cantelli's death.
Besides conducting the NBC Symphony from 1949 to 1954, Cantelli also guest conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the U.S. and the Philharmonia Orchestra in the UK.
At the time of Cantelli's death, he was being considered as the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, as successor to Dimitri Mitropoulos; instead, Leonard Bernstein (who also guest conducted the NBC Symphony) took over the leadership of the Philharmonic in 1958.
Cantelli left a small legacy of commercial recordings. Among them are recordings of Beethoven's 7th symphony and 5th piano concerto (with Walter Gieseking and the New York Philarmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall from 25 March 1956), Schubert's 8th symphony, Brahms' 1st and 3rd symphonies, Franck's D minor symphony (with the NBC Symphony in Carnegie Hall in stereo from 6 April 1954), Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, Liszt's 2nd piano concerto with Claudio Arrau, and shorter pieces by Ravel, Rossini, and others. He recorded Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with the New York Philharmonic for Columbia Records.
His one surviving opera performance is of Così fan tutte, from La Scala in 1956. There is also a live CD recording of him conducting the Verdi Requiem (with Herva Nelli). He conducted the Mozart Requiem at La Scala in 1950. There are live recordings with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra of Beethoven's first and fifth piano concertos, withRudolf Serkin as soloist, from 1953 and 1954, respectively.
The Franck, Brahms 3rd, Schubert 8th, and Beethoven 7th are among his few stereo recordings. Just before he died, he recorded the final three movements of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 for EMI, but did not record the first movement. In recent years, many performances from broadcasts and recording sessions with the NBC Symphony, from 1949 to 1954, have been made available.
In January 1954, longtime NBC announcer Ben Grauer had a brief interview with Cantelli at the end of an NBC Symphony broadcast conducted by Toscanini. Besides discussing Cantelli's recent concerts and upcoming ones, Grauer asked Cantelli about his anticipated return in the fall of 1954, but Cantelli only nervously laughed. (In reality, the NBC Symphony was disbanded in the summer of 1954, then reorganized by some of its musicians as the Symphony of the Air.) Grauer mentioned that Cantelli was sometimes in the broadcast booth during the broadcasts; Toscanini biographer Harvey Sachs notes that Cantelli was present at Toscanini's last concert on 4 April 1954. Fortunately, the interview was recorded and has been released on Youtube.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_Cantelli