WALTER Rarities, Volume Two (1923-1938) - PASC492

WALTER Rarities, Volume Two (1923-1938) - PASC492

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BERLIOZ  Roman Carnival Overture

WAGNER  Parsifal Act I Transformation Music
WAGNER  Siegfried Idyll
MOZART  Le Nozze di Figaro – Overture
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
HANDEL  Concerto Grosso In B Minor
WEBER  Der Freischütz – Overture

Studio recordings, 1923-38

Total duration: 72:28

Bruno Walter, conductor
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Mozart Festival Orchestra
British Symphony Orchestra
Paris Conservatoire Orchestra

While the first volume in this series (PASC 452) focused on Bruno Walter’s American years, here we turn the clock back to his pre-war European recordings. Like that earlier release, the emphasis is on presenting items which have had scant, if any, CD availability. Many of the selections here have been reissued in Japan and some in France, in releases that have had spotty availability elsewhere. One performance is published here for the first time.

The Roman Carnival Overture, one of Walter’s earliest recordings, was inadvertently omitted from Pristine’s two volumes of his acoustic Polydors (PASC 142 and PASC 342), and presents a work to which he would not subsequently return in the studio. The Parsifal excerpt comes from a mere two years later; yet, the difference between the old acoustic process and the new electrical technology makes it seem like an eon has passed.

The Siegfried Idyll dates from the following year, and again the sonic comparisons between this and the acoustic version Walter made two years earlier with the same ensemble (on PASC 482) are striking. By this time, Columbia was apparently imposing a four-minute limit to its twelve-inch sides; and the same work which took up four sides in 1924 now had to be spread over five. Perhaps because of this – or because of the obtrusive swish which plagues the end of the first side – the recording was never issued outside the USA. Oddly, despite the additional room to spread out, the recording is notably faster than the four-sided acoustic version (17:03 vs. 17:35, not including post-track spaces).

The next selection is a souvenir of a highly successful Mozart opera festival that Walter led in Paris in June, 1928. Several recordings were made with the “Mozart Festival Orchestra” (which was in fact the Paris Conservatoire ensemble, perhaps renamed for contractual reasons), but only two were released: the overture to Die Zauberflöte and, oddly, Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. Two other overtures were recorded, probably intended to be coupled on a single disc: Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Le Nozze di Figaro. While no trace has turned up of the former, the latter has survived on a unique shellac test pressing, which was used for the present transfer. It makes its first appearance here.

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was one of a series of recordings Walter made with the British Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble created by returning veterans of the Great War. I’ve always had a particular affection for this version, both because of the quirky Luftpause Walter introduces after the opening phrase and its repeats (an affectation he dropped in later recordings), and because of the gusto with which the players attack the closing measures of the finale.

By the spring of 1938, Walter had settled in Paris after escaping Vienna during the Anschluss. He made a series of recordings there with the Conservatoire Orchestra, including the Handel and Weber works which close our program. The Handel is noteworthy in its inclusion of a harpsichord continuo, something not yet the norm at that time. Walter had previously recorded the Weber overture acoustically, spread over three sides (on PASC 482). Perhaps due to the time limits of the two sides he was now allotted, the remake is nearly a minute and a half faster, and gains in breathtaking excitement.

Mark Obert-Thorn

1 BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9 (8:44)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded 28 & 30 August or 8/9 October 1923 in Berlin
Matrices: 80 az and 81 ½ az (Grammophon/Polydor 69588)

2 WAGNER: Parsifal – Act I Transformation Music (4:40)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded 25 November 1925 in the Columbia Petty France Studios, London
Matrix: WAX 1170-2 (English Columbia L 1745)

3 WAGNER: Siegfried Idyll (17:12)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded 19 November 1926 in the Scala Theatre, London
Matrices: WRAX 2180-1, 2181-2, 2182-1, 2183-2 and 2184-2 (American Columbia 67317/19-D in Set 68)

4 MOZART: Le Nozze di Figaro, K492 – Overture (4:03)

Mozart Festival Orchestra
Recorded 14 June 1928 in Paris
Matrix: WAX 3844 (Previously unpublished)

MOZART: Serenade No. 13 in G major, ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’, K525

5 Allegro (3:54)
6 Romanza (4:53)
7 Menuetto (2:22)
8 Rondo (3:59)

British Symphony Orchestra
Recorded 21 May 1931 in Central Hall, Westminster, London
Matrices: WAX 6104-2, 6105-3, 6106-2 and 6107-1 (English Columbia LX 144/5)

HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in B minor, Op. 6, No. 12 (HWV330)

9 Largo (2:29)
10 Allegro (3:43)
11 Larghetto e piano (4:17)
12 Largo (0:58)
13 Allegro (2:23)

Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
Recorded 17 May 1938 in the Théâtre Pigalle, Paris
Matrices: 2LA 2393-2, 2394-2, 2395-2 and 2396-2 (HMV DB 3601/2)

14 WEBER: Der Freischütz, Op. 77 – Overture (8:51)

Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
Recorded 9 May 1938 in the Théâtre Pigalle, Paris
Matrices: 2LA 2531-1 and 2532-1 (HMV DB 3554)

Bruno Walter (conductor)

Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn
Special thanks to Richard A. Kaplan and David Schmutz for providing source material

Total Timing: 72:30