Rafael Kubelík - Complete Decca Recordings

 
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BRAHMS / DVORAK / SMETANA / NICOLAI / MAHLER / WEBER / etc
Rafael Kubelík - Complete Decca Recordings
Wiener Philharmoniker, Israel Philharmonic, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Rafael Kubelik, with Pierre Fournier (cello)

[ Decca Eloquence / 12 CD Box Set ]

Release Date: Friday 28 May 2021

Rafael Kubelik, the Czech conductor, was in every way a big man: tall and robust in physique, he was the most generous of human beings and he inspired devoted affection among his friends and colleagues. This complete Decca collection finds Kubelík working with the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Israel Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, and for a single operatic extract, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. ORIGINAL JACKETS LIMITED EDITION.

Rafael Kubelík had made his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic at the 1950 Salzburg Festival, and together they made a series of recordings during the late 1950s which have long been prized for their warmth and spontaneous-sounding expression. The Mahler First introduced countless listeners to the composer for the first time, as did the Janáček Sinfonietta. After the spectacular success of Kubelík's first Má Vlast recording, made in Chicago, the Vienna remake is softer edged but no less scored with the nationalistic fervour and colour that made the conductor synonymous with the piece until his death in 1996. Cast in the same mould as the Smetana are the Brahms symphonies and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet.

In fact few other label-focused anthologies of Kubelík's recordings survey so wide a span: a quarter of a century from the Dvořák Cello Concerto with Pierre Fournier in 1954 to the 1979 recording of Der Freischütz, Weber's foundational work of German Romantic opera, strongly cast in the Decca tradition and led by the radiantly sung Agathe of Hildegard Behrens, then at the start of a career that would soon establish her as the leading Wagnerian soprano of her generation. In this Bavarian Radio appendix to his Decca career, Kubelík made a no less attractive recording of Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor, likewise transferring the atmosphere of the stage into the studio with the experience of decades behind him.

Towards the end of Kubelík's Vienna years with Decca, he also performed and recorded in Israel. The Decca sessions in a cinema outside Tel Aviv yielded an account of Dvořák's Serenade for Strings in which critics had no trouble hearing the authentic voice of the Czech nation in exile, embodied in the figure of Kubelík for half a century.

The booklet includes a full contextual account by Peter Quantrill of Kubelík's Decca career.

"A first-class version, which may be highly recommended… The recording is brilliant, with a richness equal to Decca's best." Gramophone, March 1955 (Dvořák: Cello Concerto)

"Kubelík gets an extremely good performance from the Vienna Philharmonic, and conductor, players and Decca engineers have seen to it that the colours and lines are kept sharp, bright and clear. Every instrument sounds quintessentially itself." Gramophone, February 1956 (Janáček)

"Kubelík turns in a relaxed, free-flowing reading and he is seconded by superb string playing and sumptuous recorded sound." Stereo Review, March 1958 (Dvořák: Serenade for Strings)

"An old-fashioned, relaxed performance … There may be more exciting Brahms Thirds on disc, but it is doubtful whether any of them are more genuinely satisfying." High Fidelity, March 1959 (Brahms, Symphony No. 3)
"Kubelík feels this music deeply. His interpretation is vibrant and exciting. The orchestra plays beautifully and the tone it produces is elegant and rich. London's stereo offers an envelopment of sound that is simply luxurious.' Stereo Review, January 1960 (Smetana, Má Vlast)

"A beautifully warm, sane performance from beginning to end… the Vienna Philharmonic is in its best form." High Fidelity, August 1960 (Brahms, Symphony No. 4)

"Kubelík avoids Kleiber's tendency to over-emphasise detail … [he] also has the slightly stronger, more consistent cast. Behrens is the most convincing Agathe." Opera, February 1981 (Weber, Der Freischütz)

Tracks:

CDs 1-2
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Symphonies Nos. 1-4
Wiener Philharmoniker

CD 3
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Pierre Fournier, cello; Wiener Philharmoniker
Serenade for Strings in E major Op. 22
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

CD 4
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Symphonies Nos. 7 & 9
Wiener Philharmoniker

CD 5
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Slavonic Dances, Opp. 46 & 72
Wiener Philharmoniker

CD 6
BEDŘICH SMETANA (1824-1884)
Má vlast
Wiener Philharmoniker

CD 7
GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 1 in D major
Wiener Philharmoniker
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA

CD 8
LEOŠ JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Sinfonietta
PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Romeo and Juliet - Fantasy-Overture after Shakespeare
Wiener Philharmoniker

CDs 9-10
OTTO NICOLAI (1810-1849)
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor
Sir John Falstaff……………………………………………………………………………………………..…Karl Ridderbusch
Fluth / Ford…………………………………………………………..……………………..…………………Wolfgang Brendel
Herr Reich / Page………………………………………….……………………..……………………………Alexander Malta
Frau Fluth / Mistress Ford…………………………….………………..……………………………………..Helen Donath
Frau Reich / Mistress Page…………………………………………………………..……………….Trudeliese Schmidt
Fenton………………………………………………………………………..…..………………………..Claes Haakon Ahnsjö
Junker Spärlich / Slender………………………………………………….….…………………………………Heinz Zednik
Dr. Cajus………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………….Alfred Sramek
Jungfer Anna Reich / Anna Page…………………………..…………………………………………………..Lilian Sukis
Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

CDs 11-12
CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
Der Freischütz, Op. 77, J. 277
Ottokar…………………………………………………………………………………………..………………Wolfgang Brendel
Kuno……………………………………………………………………………….….……………………….Raimund Grumbach
Agathe.………………………………………………………………………………………..……………..…Hildegard Behrens
Ännchen………………………………………………………………….………………………..…………………..Helen Donath
Kaspar……………………………………………………………….………………..………………………………….Peter Meven
Max………………………………………………………………………………….……..……………………..………….René Kollo
Ein Eremit…………………………………………………………..…..……………………………………………………Kurt Moll
Samiel………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………….Rolf Boysen
Kilian……………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………..Hermann Sapell
Jäger………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………Theodor Nicolai
Bridesmaids………………………Irmgart Lampart, Adelheid Schiller, Erika Ruggeberg, Renate Freyer
Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Ah ! Ah ! Je vais mourir ! … Adieu, fière cité (Les Troyens)
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Rafael Kubelik Complete Decca Recordings