MENGELBERG Beethoven: Complete Symphonies (1940) - PABX008

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MENGELBERG Beethoven: Complete Symphonies (1940) - PABX008

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Overview

BEETHOVEN Symphonies 1-9
BEETHOVEN Fidelio Overture
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1
R. STRAUSS Don Juan

Recorded in 1940

To van der Sluys, soprano
Suze Luger,
alto
Louis van Tulder,
tenor
Willem Ravelli,
baritone

Amsterdam Toonkunst Chorus
Royal Oratorio Society
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
conductor Willem Mengelberg

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This set contains the following albums:

Click below to expand note:
MENGELBERG Beethoven and Brahms: First Symphonies (1940) - PASC221


The inimitable live magic of Willem Mengelberg

In almost unbelievably good XR-remastered sound quality


Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra were recorded on a number of occasions by AVRO using high quality glass acetate discs, which produced significantly better results than those normally obtained by shellac discs of the era, with a much wider dynamic and frequency range than was usual at the time.

Many of Mengelberg's AVRO recordings have long been available on LP and, later, CD, and their sonic advantages have been immediately clear to listeners for decades.

However, using standard flat replay systems to produce those LPs and CDs has only told perhaps half of the story - the recordings gently rolled off both higher and lower frequencies. Howver, these essential details are often still intact, buried in the recordings as if awaiting a remastering method capable of extracting them and restoring their original levels.

This is, of course, precisely what Pristine's XR remastering system excels at. There are extended sections in both 1940 concert recordings present here where we've been able to present a true full-frequency, 20-20,000 Hz frequency response, coupled with a dynamic range more befitting of a 1960s or 1970s analogue recording - sound quality which is quite astonishing for its age.

Of course these discs were by no means perfect, and trying to go "the extra mile" in restoring it to modern standards is fraught with difficulties. Modulation distortion abounds in the original - basically whenever the music gets louder, so does the hiss and noise levels, especially at the higher frequencies which were previously largely inaudible. The majority of the restoration effort has then been involved in trying to ameliorate this problem, though sharper ears may still hear its effect from time to time. There is at times also very slightly higher general background hiss than one might expect of a more recent recording, and one of course has to deal with the low level click and crackle present in just about any disc recording.

Elsewhere the bottom end has seen considerable improvement, with a much fuller and richer sound than originally heard in the flat transfers. The use of multiple references for the remastering of the recordings has ensured that the tonal balance is as natural and realistic as possible, and that the two recordings resulted in an orchestral sound which was consistent for both recordings. One will rarely get closer to hearing a 1940 concert than this.

Andrew Rose

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphonies 2 & 8, Fidelio Overture (1940) - PASC229

More superb Beethoven from Willem Mengelberg

Utterly astonishing XR-remastered sound quality


Introduction
Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra were recorded on a number of occasions by AVRO using high quality glass acetate discs, which produced significantly better results than those normally obtained by shellac discs of the era, with a much wider dynamic and frequency range than was usual at the time.

Many of Mengelberg's AVRO recordings have long been available on LP and, later, CD, and their sonic advantages have been immediately clear to listeners for decades.

However, using standard flat replay systems to produce those LPs and CDs has only told perhaps half of the story - the recordings gently rolled off both higher and lower frequencies. Howver, these essential details are often still intact, buried in the recordings as if awaiting a remastering method capable of extracting them and restoring their original levels.

This is, of course, precisely what Pristine's XR remastering system excels at. There are extended sections in both 1940 concert recordings present here where we've been able to present a true full-frequency, 20-20,000 Hz frequency response, coupled with a dynamic range more befitting of a 1960s or 1970s analogue recording - sound quality which is quite astonishing for its age.

Elsewhere the bottom end has seen considerable improvement, with a much fuller and richer sound than originally heard in the flat transfers. The use of multiple references for the remastering of the recordings has ensured that the tonal balance is as natural and realistic as possible, and that the two recordings resulted in an orchestral sound which was consistent for both recordings. One will rarely get closer to hearing a 1940 concert than this.

These transfers
The discs which originally held the present recordings were variable in condition, and at times quite extensive repair work has been necessary in order to remove or reduce bumps, clicks, scratches, swish and high-end noise. In order to maintain as much musical information as possible there is therefore some small variation in background noise, though I've tried to retain smooth progressions between the various sections of the recordings so this does not jar. Overall the sound is once again amazing for its vintage - despite repeated listening I remain astonished at what was achieved in 1940 and what I've been able to extract and reveal in these superlative recordings.

 Andrew Rose

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphonies 4 and 5 (1940) - PASC236

More superb Beethoven from Willem Mengelberg

Continuing the series in astonishing XR-remastered sound quality

 


Introduction
Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra were recorded on a number of occasions by AVRO using high quality glass acetate discs, which produced significantly better results than those normally obtained by shellac discs of the era, with a much wider dynamic and frequency range than was usual at the time.

Many of Mengelberg's AVRO recordings have long been available on LP and, later, CD, and their sonic advantages have been immediately clear to listeners for decades.

However, using standard flat replay systems to produce those LPs and CDs has only told perhaps half of the story - the recordings gently rolled off both higher and lower frequencies. However, these essential details are often still intact, buried in the recordings as if awaiting a remastering method capable of extracting them and restoring their original levels.

This is, of course, precisely what Pristine's XR remastering system excels at. There are extended sections in both 1940 concert recordings present here where we've been able to present a true full-frequency, 20-20,000 Hz frequency response, coupled with a dynamic range more befitting of a 1960s or 1970s analogue recording - sound quality which is quite astonishing for its age.

Elsewhere the bottom end has seen considerable improvement, with a much fuller and richer sound than originally heard in the flat transfers. The use of multiple references for the remastering of the recordings has ensured that the tonal balance is as natural and realistic as possible, and that the two recordings resulted in an orchestral sound which was consistent for both recordings. One will rarely get closer to hearing a 1940 concert than this.

These transfers
Although the Fourth Symphony appears to get off to a slightly rough start, thanks to damage to the original acetates, and misses the characteristic clicks of Mengelberg's baton, things soon settle down and once again in this series, excellent sound quality can be heard in both recordings. Opening up the top end frequencies of these recordings has revealed flaws previously buried in the original - distortion and swishing both had to be tamed or eliminated, with many thousands of individual manual restoration interventions required for each symphony. Inevitably the odd shortcoming will remain audible, but ultimately the sonic impact of these restorations has been hugely satisfying and enjoyable.

 

Andrew Rose

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral" (1940) - PASC258

Mengelberg's magnificent Beethoven Choral Symphony

Our Mengelberg Beethoven series continues in superb XR-remastered sound


Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra were recorded on a number of occasions by AVRO using high quality glass acetate discs, which produced significantly better results than those normally obtained by shellac discs of the era, with a much wider dynamic and frequency range than was usual at the time. Many of Mengelberg's AVRO recordings have long been available on LP and, later, CD, and their sonic advantages have been immediately clear to listeners for decades.

However, using standard flat replay systems to produce those LPs and CDs has only told perhaps half of the story - the recordings gently rolled off both higher and lower frequencies. Howver, these essential details are often still intact, buried in the recordings as if awaiting a remastering method capable of extracting them and restoring their original levels.

This is, of course, precisely what Pristine's XR remastering system excels at, and I've been able to bring out a pleasing amount of detail in the high treble, often extending right up to near 20kHz. At times this detail is astonishingly clean and clear, but elsewhere it is marred by a degree of hiss, requiring a delicate balance to be struck between the two.

Meanwhile the bottom end has seen considerable improvement, with a much fuller and richer sound than originally heard in the flat transfers. However much of the very lowest bass, below 100Hz, has been very poorly preserved where it exists at all, and these frequencies caused considerable problems in the restoration process. Indeed, much of what was present at these frequencies turned out to be rogue tones derived from interference at higher frequencies and had to be removed, along with a variety of unwanted bumps and thumps.

I was also required to carry out some judicious editing in the opening movement, where a small fragment of music was missing and a skip could be heard on my source discs which appeared to originate from the acetate masters. Fortunately I've been able to make a seamless repair by dropping in material from a repeated phrase, leaving the join hopefully undetectable.

Andrew Rose

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphonies 6 "Pastoral" and 7 (1940) - PASC280

Mengelberg's Beethoven Symphonies:
"Hear them with new ears in these revelatory transfers" 
(Fanfare)

Completing our Mengelberg Beethoven series in superb XR-remastered sound



As with the other recordings in our series of Mengelberg's 1940 Beethoven cycle, these two live symphony performances were captured unusually well by the ARVO engineers on high quality glass acetate discs, and these recordings have responded especially well to Pristine Audio's XR remastering system. I have been able to tackle tonal deficiencies which in the originals manifested themselves in a rather hard, cramped acoustic characteristic of the microphones then in use. Fortunately almost all the frequencies required for true high fidelity had been recorded - the re-equalisation of the XR process merely rearranges them in volume a little to bring a far more natural tone to the orchestra.

From a restoration perspective, large swathes of the recordings were excellent, with just short sections where swish and low frequency bumps had to be eliminated, and the occasional side join tidied up. Both recordings are on a par with anything previously issued in this series with respect to sound quality, with the 7th Symphony perhaps showing the greater improvement over the original source.

Andrew Rose

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 & R. Strauss: Don Juan (1940)- PASC287

Mengelberg superb 1940 studio 'Eroica' sounding fabulous

Coupled with his live Don Juan from the same year


The recording here has often been used to "complete" Mengelberg's 1940 Beethoven cycle, which otherwise consists of recordings made by Dutch radio from live concert broadcasts - the source of the recording here of Don Juan.

However, this recording of the Eroica Symphony was actually made as a studio recording and issued on German Telefunken 78s, and as such I've distanced it slightly from our series of 1940 live Beethoven recordings. Although the sound quality is excellent for 78s of this era, especially following XR remastering, it lacks the clarity, a product of a particularly wide frequency and dynamic range, achieved on the glass acetates used by AVRO's radio engineers when preserving their broadcasts.

The Beethoven discs showed large differences in both high treble and background noise between the starts and ends of each side, and much work was required to try to retain as much of the former whilst reducing as much of the latter and providing smooth side changes. By contrast the Strauss was a much more straightforward affair, with the main task being reduction of swish.

Andrew Rose

Click below to expand track listing:
MENGELBERG Beethoven and Brahms: First Symphonies (1940) - PASC221


    BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
    Concert of 13th October, 1940

    BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
    Concert of 27th October, 1940

    Played by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    conductor Willem Mengelberg

Recorded in October 1940 at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam by AVRO Radio
Transfers from Philips LPs W 09907 L & 6597 009 in the Pristine Audio collection
XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, April 2010
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Willem Mengelberg at the Concertgebouw

Total duration: 73:28

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphonies 2 & 8, Fidelio Overture (1940) - PASC229


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 36
    Concert of 21st April, 1940

  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F major, Opus 93
    Concert of 18th April, 1940

  • BEETHOVEN Fidelio Overture, Op. 72c
    Concert variously attributed to April 28th or October 13th, 1940

    Played by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    conductor Willem Mengelberg

    Recorded in April/October 1940 at the Concertgebouw, by AVRO Radio
    Transfers from Philips LPs 6597 010 and 6597 009 in the Pristine collection
    XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May-June 2010
    Cover artwork based on a photograph of Willem Mengelberg at the Concertgebouw

    Total duration: 71:09 
MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphonies 4 and 5 (1940) - PASC236


BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Opus 60
    Concert of 25th April, 1940

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C major, Opus 67
    Concert of 18th April, 1940

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
conductor Willem Mengelberg

Recorded in April 1940 at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam by AVRO Radio
Transfers from mint Philips LPs 6597 012 and 6597 016 in the Pristine Audio collection
XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May-July 2010
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Willem Mengelberg at the Concertgebouw

Total duration: 68:23

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral" (1940) - PASC258


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"
    Concert of 2nd May, 1940

    To van der Sluys, soprano
    Suze Luger,
    alto
    Louis van Tulder,
    tenor
    Willem Ravelli,
    baritone
    Amsterdam Toonkunst Chorus
    Royal Oratorio Society
    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    conductor Willem Mengelberg

Recorded in May 1940 at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam by AVRO Radio
Transfers from Philips LPs 6597 015 & 6597 016 from box set 6767 003

XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, October-November 2010
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Willem Mengelberg at the Concertgebouw

Total duration: 68:47

MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphonies 6 "Pastoral" and 7 (1940) - PASC280


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral"
    Concert of 14th May, 1940

  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
    Concert of 25th May, 1940


    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    conductor Willem Mengelberg


Recorded in May 1940 at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam by AVRO Radio
Transfers from Philips LPs 6597 013 & 6597 014 from box set 6767 003

XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, February-March 2011
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Willem Mengelberg at the Concertgebouw


Total duration: 78:57


MENGELBERG Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 & R. Strauss: Don Juan (1940)- PASC287
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica"
    Recorded 11th November, 1940
    Issued as Telefunken 78s, SK 3117-22
    Matrix Nos. CB 025350-61


  • R. STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
    Recorded live at Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 12th December, 1940
    Transfer from Philips LP W 09908 L 


    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
    Willem Mengelberg 
    conductor


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, April 2011
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Willem Mengelberg


Total duration: 62:41

Fanfare Review

XR remastering has opened out the sound very impressively, easily surpassing previous transfers

REVIEW OF SYMPHONIES 6 & 7

Another welcome installment in Pristine’s live Mengelberg series. Once again, Andrew Rose’s XR remastering procedure has opened out the sound very impressively, easily surpassing previous transfers on Philips and Music & Arts.

Mengelberg’s “Pastoral” was an incredibly radical conception for its time: light, lean, stripped-down, sharply focused. As always with Mengelberg (or nearly always), there’s a cogent musical rationale for the seeming eccentricities. If his way with the opening at first strikes us as dangerously indulgent, his point is precisely to detach the first four bars as a “frame” for the movement proper, before pouncing on bar 5 with up-tempo zest (Pletnev recently attempted the same thing, not very convincingly, in his erratic cycle with the Russian National Orchestra; among Mengelberg’s contemporaries, Mitropoulos was the only one to share his conception of the basic tempo, in his Minneapolis recording from the same year). Clarity and airiness are the watchwords—hear his radically detaché articulation of the second theme, and the incredible definition of the string figures in the closing section. The “Scene by the Brook” is taken as a real four-in-the-bar Andante, with a fluid flexibility of pace and vibrant fullness that he shared with Furtwängler, though accomplished within a faster basic pulse. More controversial is his eccentric rewriting of the rhythm in the main theme, resulting in a complex polyrhythmic effect—essentially superimposing a temporary 4/4 on the movement’s basic 12/8—that I have never understood the rationale for (he maintains it, though not with complete consistency, throughout the movement). Mengelberg’s “Storm” is one of the most amazingly vivid on record, deliberate and unhurried (Beethoven’s metronome mark is only 80 here, in contrast to the needless frenzy often whipped up) but with a headlong sweep, controlled ferocity, and subtly nuanced but pungently tangy coloristic range—sul ponticello string chills, sudden glints of brass tone through the downpour. The climax (bars 106 ff.) is overwhelming. The “Shepherd’s Hymn” has a (for its time) exhilarating up-tempo buoyancy and detached articulacy, with wonderful forward momentum in the coda, where so many conductors bog down. On the debit side, there are some fussy tempo changes (e.g., his disruptive slamming on of the brakes in bar 32); from the viewpoint of tempo modification, this is one case where Furtwängler’s more seamless, gradual approach was more convincing.

Mengelberg’s approach to the Seventh was equally original. The first movement is played for precision and weight at a moderate, flexible tempo. His Allegretto is like no one else’s in its heavily stylized clarity of legato/staccato articulation, and the contrasting major-mode section is a miracle of coloristic subtlety. The Scherzo is unhurried and trenchant; the Trio slow and songful, with much agogic manipulation. The finale is once again notable for its constant modification of the tempo, but here more in terms of a subtle flux than the abrupt gear-changes heard in the “Shepherd’s Hymn.” There is an extraordinary sense of each of the movement’s rhythmic elements leading its own autonomous life—e.g., the way he swings the swirling string lines against the massive, deliberate treatment of the wind-and-timpani punctuations. In comparison to alternative live versions (Mengelberg never made a studio recording of the Seventh), this one is notably slower overall, and more given to flexibility of rhetorical emphasis than those with the Concertgebouw in 1936 (Tahra) and Berlin Radio Orchestra in 1939 (on the British specialist Mengelberg label Archive Documents).


Boyd Pomeroy

This article originally appeared in Issue 35:2 (Nov/Dec 2011) of Fanfare Magazine.