Thursday, January 20, 2011

Great conductors of the 20TH century EMI VOL.10 - Koussevitzky

CD1 [77:36]

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.5

Boston Symphony Orchestra; Symphony Hall, Boston; November 1944

Rachmaninov: The Isle of the Dead

Boston Symphony Orchestra; Symphony Hall, Boston; April 1945

Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No.1
Boston Symphony Orchestra; Symphony Hall, Boston; May 1936

CD2 [71:04]

Sibelius: Symphony No.7

BBC Symphony Orchestra; Queen's Hall, London (Live); May 1933

Harris: Symphony No.3

Boston Symphony Orchestra; Symphony Hall, Boston; November 1939

Beethoven: Symphony No.5

London Philharmonic Orchestra; Abbey Road Studios, London; September 1934


Born in Russia, Serge Koussevitzky became a double-bass virtuoso in his teens and at 20 joined the basses of the Bolshoi Orchestra. Three years after marrying the daughter of a wealthy Russian tea merchant in 1905, he made his conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, and in 1909 founded a publishing house and a symphony orchestra in Moscow. Koussevitzky left Russia in 1920, settling in Paris before becoming conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 25 seasons (1924-49), championing young composers alongside the classics. He fashioned the Boston Symphony into a world-class orchestra, making many outstanding recordings. Among his many pupils was Leonard Bernstein.

This compilation showcases Koussevitzky with landmarks from his substantial catalogue of commercial recordings. The Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5 (from 1944) has been completely remastered by Brian Bell, who is associated with the Boston Symphony Archive. Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead (from 1945) and Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No.1 (from 1936) have also been newly remastered from the original 78s. Koussevitzky's recording of Roy Harris's Symphony No.3 (the world premiere recording from 1939) is both pioneering and authoritative. Another first recording, Sibelius's Symphony No.7, in a live performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1933, and Beethoven's Symphony No.5, with the London Philharmonic in 1934, are rare examples of Koussevitzky working away from Boston. Beethoven was a vital part of his repertoire, but this Fifth Symphony has not been available on disc for many years.


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