Record Reviews

Records are becoming safer to buy. This month yielded few offcenter or bubbly disks and very little treble screech or tape vibrato. Worst current fault: lack of good text with operas, songs, and choral works.


Bach: Easter Oratorio (Felix Prohaska conducting Vienna Akademie Choir and chamber orchestra; Vanguard-Bach Guild: 12" LP). Heretofore unrecorded and seldom sung (for lack of a usable edition), this is big, joyous, dramatic; one of Bach’s topmost choral works. Performance and recording: fine.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” in E-flat Major (Fritz Busch conducting Austrian Symphony Orchestra; Remington: 12" LP). A cut-rate version but, thanks to the late Dr. Busch, one of the two best “Eroicas” on LP. Caution: noisy surfaces.

Berlioz:L’Enfance du Christ (André Cluytens conducting Paris Opéra soloists, Raymond St. Paul chorus, Conservatoire orchestra; Vox: two 12" LPs in album; no text). Tender, whimsical, melodic, this chamber oratorio is a real spellbinder. Well recorded.

Chopin: Sonata No. 3 in B Minor (Rudolf Firkusny, piano; Columbia: 10" LP). Solid performance; really rare, ripe, rich piano tone.

Mozart: Concerti for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E Flat and F Major (Paul Badura-Skoda and Reine Gianoli, pianos; Hermann Scherchen conducting Vienna State Opera Orchestra; Westminster: 12" LP). Pure essence of delight, all the way through. Buy it.

Mozart:The Magic Flute; The Marriage of Figaro; Don Giovanni (abridged operas). The burning question: which is better, the RCA Victor reprints (on LP and 45s) of the classic Busch-Glyndebourne and Beecham-Berlin versions, or the allnew LP competition? As regards Figaro, this column votes for the new, competent, superbly recorded Columbia (von Karajan conducting top Viennese talent) over either the Victor-Busch or a workmanlike CetraSoria set. With the Magic Flute, it’s a toss-up between Beecham’s verve and Karajan-Columbia’s high fidelity. In Don Giovanni, Busch beats the Haydn Society’s Vienna version all hollow. Each set consists of three 12" LPs or equivalent Victor 45s.

Respighi:Botticelli Triptych and Locatelli:Concerto da Camera (Franz Litschauer conducting Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Vienna Chamber Orchestra; Vanguard: 12" LP). The three Respighi musical pictures (Birth of Venus; Adoration of the Magi; Spring) are among the year’s best high-fidelity recordings — and artistically winsome, too.

Schubert: Octet in F Major (Konzerthaus Quartet, plus horn, clarinet, bassoon, and double bass; Westminster: 12" LP). One of the year’s truly great records; noble, exquisite, profoundly moving music, played with real inspiration and stunningly recorded.

Tschaikowsky:Souvenir de Florence (Vienna State Opera string orchestra, Henry Swoboda conducting; Westminster: 12" LP). Last and probably best of Tschaikowsky’s chamber works, this tuneful work has been strangely neglected.

Wolf, Hugo:Der Corregidor (Karl Erb, Kurt Böhme, Margarete Teschemacher, other soloists, Saxon State Opera chorus and Dresden State Opera orchestra, Karl Elmendorff conducting; Urania: three 12" LPs in album with libretto). This has nothing to do with MacArthur; Corregidor means “magistrate,” and the opera (very reminiscent of Rosenkavalier) has the same village-intrigue plot as the Three-Cornered Hat ballet, and some fine tunes. Recording: good.

Spanish Piano Music (George Copeland, piano; M-G-M: 10" LP). Copeland plays Albeniz, Nin, Granados, as expertly as he plays Maggie Teyte’s Debussy accompaniments. Some of it’s downright magical. Good recording, too.