The teacher of Anne-Sophie Mutter and dozens of leading violinists, Aida Stucki was a brilliant artist in her own right during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Apart from a few LPs, there is a trove of broadcasts in the archives of various Swiss radio networks of hundreds of concertos, sonatas, and chamber music. Apparently she chose to shun the glamour of the travelling soloist, preferring to devote herself to chamber music and teaching. A few of her devoted students who discerned that her broadcasts revealed one of the greatest artists of the era approached DOREMI to issue some of these vault treasures. It was decided to initiate a series of CDs with performances of Mozart concertos and sonatas from 1951 to 1977 (DOREMI DHR-7964-9, 6 CDs). Anne-Sophie Mutter wrote to DOREMI that “Aida Stucki’s recognition as an artist is both inevitable and overdue. Her artistry is a timeless inspiration. Her interpretation incorporates bewitching sound, personal instinct coupled with great insight to the wishes of the composer. I admire this great violinist deeply. These recordings are a must for any string player and music lover.”
The late conductor/composer Igor Markevitch has ten different performances of Le Sacre du Printemps to be found on CD, in addition to a DVD with the Japan Philharmonic (1968). Stravinsky was antipathetic to conductors interpreting his works. His well known instruction was to simply play the scores as written because that is all there is to it. He endorsed only his amanuensis, Robert Craft, but had complimentary things to say about Igor Markevitch. An 11th CD of Le Sacre with Markevitch has appeared on the Audite label from Germany containing live performances from 1952 in Berlin (Audite 95.605). So what? Well, I’ll tell you what... Stravinsky’s shocker sounds unusually animated, lively and vibrant as Markevitch propels the now familiar score. There is a real sense of tense apprehension throughout, an atmosphere of inevitability absent from other performances. The RIAS Symphony Orchestra was a crack ensemble, comfortable with this complex score. Absolutely first-rate performances of the second suite from Daphnis and Chloë, another Markevitch show-piece, and the newly written Fifth Symphony of Honegger make this a CD worth owning. These were recorded by Deutschland Radio who made their master tapes available for the first time. The sound is state of the art for the time, far ahead of what was being achieved in North America... dynamic, transparent and finely detailed, leaving nothing to the listener’s imagination.
Even though Tony Palmer’s film about The Salzburg Festival runs for 195 minutes there is not one uninteresting moment (TP DVD 032, 1 DVD). Personalities and related events from the first Festival in 1920 through to the post-war era when the American Occupation Forces aided and encouraged the return to its former eminence as a destination for music lovers is well documented. The Karajan years are well covered with interviews, mostly positive, with some footage of the building of the Festspielhaus. The post-Karajan era is also covered in this absorbing, entertaining and informative document.
Long before Fritz Reiner became “famous” in the middle to late 1950s he was not unknown to record collectors and music lovers via his all too few recordings for Columbia with the Pittsburgh Symphony. It was not until 1953 and his tenure with the Chicago Symphony and their recordings with RCA, starting in 1954, that Reiner was elevated to the hierarchy of Munch, Walter, Karajan, Klemperer, and the rest. Until that time Reiner was guest conducting, including five seasons at the MET, without having an orchestra of his own. RCA sent their best producer and engineer to Chicago to make those fabulous recordings which are still, 50 years later, in demand. West Hill Radio Archives has issued volume 1 of a collection of Reiner performances pre-dating the Chicago era (WHRA-6024, 6 CDs priced as 4) culled from performances with the NBC Symphony, The Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, and The Cleveland Orchestra. An early entry is from 23 July 1944 in which Alexander Kipnis joins the Philharmonic in three scenes from Boris Godunov. Kipnis’s Boris was peerless and the three scenes sung here include the Death of Boris. Wisely, these end the CD because any next track would be an intrusion. A brilliant Don Quixote with the NBC features the orchestra’s three first desk men, Mischa Mischakoff, Carlton Cooley, and Frank Miller. Reiner was to meet up again with Miller in Chicago after 1954. The Cleveland entry is from pre-Szell days in 1945 playing Lieutenant Kije and the Shostakovich Sixth. There are 22 performances here, including the Brahms Fourth, Till Eulenspiegel, Mathis der Mahler and arias with Bidu Sayão. As we have come to expect from West Hill, the sound is exemplary, full bodied, very clean and devoid of any distracting artefacts. No caveats here. The enclosed 19 page booklet contains a longish appreciation of Reiner by Chicago music critic, Roger Dettmer. For copyright reasons, this set is not for sale in the United States and is distributed in Canada by SRI in Peterborough.