THE WESTMINSTER LEGACY
Intern. Release Date: January 2014
40 CD Box
- CD 15 Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20/ D. Scarlatti: Sonatas (Clara Haskil, Winterthur Symphony Orchestra, Henry Swoboda)
- CD 16 Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 22, Piano Sonatas (Daniel Barenboim, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, László Somogyi)
- CD 17 Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2, Paganini Rhapsody (Raymond Lewenthal, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Maurice Abravanel)
- CD 18 Brahms & Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos (Erica Morini, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Artur Rodzinski)
- CD 25 Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 23, 29 (Egon Petri)
- CD 26 Schubert: „Wanderer“ Fantasie, Moments Musiceaux, Impromptus (Paul Badura-Skoda)
- CD 27 Franck: Prélude, choral et fugue / Fauré: Impromptus (Jörg Demus)
- CD 29 Schumann: Frauenliebe und Leben, Liederkreis (Sena Jurinac, Franz Holetschek)
- CD 30 Duparc: 14 Songs (Leopold Simoneau, Allan Rogers)
- CD 40 Beverly Sills: Bellini and Donizetti Heroines (Beverly Sills, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jussi Jalas, Sir Charles Mackerras)
Westminster’s pianists were a scintillating group. The legendary Swiss-based Romanian musician Clara Haskil was captured at Winterthur in music by two of her favourite composers, Mozart and Scarlatti, when – owing to illness and war – she was not yet a household name. The German-born Dutch artist Egon Petri, a Busoni protégé and a colossal technician, was teaching in the United States and virtually forgotten when he was invited into a New York studio to set down some Bach and Beethoven masterpieces. Former child movie star Raymond Lewenthal, at his peak as a Romantic virtuoso at 35, had not long recovered from a terrible beating by New York ruffians in 1953 when, in 1959, he was documented in Rachmaninov. By contrast Paul Badura-Skoda and Jörg Demus, who made up Vienna’s best piano duo when not pursuing separate careers, were in their early 20s when they made their Westminster débuts; and Argentina-born Israeli Wunderkind Daniel Barenboim was only 16 when taken on to the roster. Also caught young was the brilliant English guitarist Julian Bream: after successful lute recordings, in 1955 he was allowed to make two LPs of solo guitar pieces by his beloved Fernando Sor, as well as other Spanish compositions and the beautiful Preludes by the Brazilian Villa-Lobos.
Westminster was faithful to a corps of first-rate vocalists. Croatian soprano Sena Jurinac, star of the Vienna State Opera and Glyndebourne, was on that first Kodály LP and made one of her rare excursions into lieder with a Schumann programme, accompanied by Franz Holetschek. Her most unusual recording was Ottorino Respighi’s Shelley setting Il tramonto, in which she was teamed with the other front-rank quartet from the Vienna Philharmonic, formed by the string section leaders – previously the Schneiderhan Quartet, from 1951 it was led by Walter Barylli and reigned as resident group at the Musikverein. Hungarian-Swiss soprano Maria Stader and American tenor Jan Peerce took part with Jurinac in Knappertsbusch’s recording of Fidelio; and their other Beethoven commitment was to join Viennese baritone Otto Wiener in Scherchen’s performance of the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives, here supplemented by some of Stader’s interpretations of Mozart songs with Demus.
Scherchen’s initial Westminster project, back in October 1950, had been a much-praised Bach B minor Mass; and in 1959 he essayed it again, with soloists including the French Canadian husband and wife Léopold Simoneau and Pierrette Alarie. Admirers of Simoneau’s poised lyric tones will be pleased to have his 1956 Duparc recital, the finest performances by a tenor of these rarefied mélodies. Another Scherchen interpretation repeated for stereo was Mozart’s Requiem, not obliterating memories of his mono account but fielding an impressive solo line-up, Jurinac and Hans Loeffler (thought to be a nom du disque for Waldemar Kmentt) being joined by Americans Lucretia West and Frederick Guthrie. The stylish English conductor Brian Priestman made a number of LPs with bright-toned American soprano Teresa Stich-Randall and sonorous-voiced Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester: here we have Handel’s complete opera Rodelinda, with Hilde Rössel-Majdan of the Vienna State Opera and those great English Handelians Helen Watts and Alexander Young among the other soloists. Our final disc features some of the earliest recordings by famed American coloratura soprano Beverly Sills. She made two LPs for Westminster in 1968-69, one of bel canto arias by Bellini and Donizetti, conducted by Sibelius’s son-in-law Jussi Jalas, and one of French repertoire with the American-born Australian Charles Mackerras.