Reviews

GHCD 2339 – Fritz Busch (1890-1951)

Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Busch – Conductor

To the CD in our Shop


Klassik.Com Friday April 03 2009

Interpretation

Klangqualität

Repertoirewert

Booklet
Nur zu gern hätten die Nazis Fritz Busch als Aushängeschild für deutsche Kunst benutzt. Doch der Liebling des Dresdner Opernpublikums äußerte öffentlich, was er von Hitler ‘amoralischer Lehre’ hielt. Für diese Kritik rächte sich das Regime schon wenige Wochen nach der Machtergreifung: Die ‘Rigoletto’-Aufführung vom 7. März 1933 wurde zu einer von der SA inszenierten Demontage. Es war das Ende einer Ära an der Semperoper. Busch verließ seine Heimat und dirigierte künftig in Übersee, Skandinavien und England, wo er das Glyndebourne-Festival mitbegründete. Nach dem Krieg kehrte Busch nach Dänemark zurück und untermauerte seinen Ruf als genialer Interpret des deutsch-österreichischen Repertoires.
Präzise Kontraste

Zwischen 1948 und 1951 entstanden zusammen mit dem Dänischen Radiosinfonieorchester Aufnahmen, die den anerkannten Wagner- und Strauss-Dirigenten als profunden Kenner der Wiener Klassik zeigen (alle Kompositionen auf dieser CD entstanden in der kurzen Zeitspanne zwischen 1783 und 1792).

Den Kopfsatz von Haydns Sinfonie Nr. 88 beginnt Busch majestätisch, wechselt jedoch schnell zu quirliger Lebendigkeit. Präzise Kontraste, frei atmende Rubati und organische Motiventwicklung prägen das ‘Largo’. Im ‘Menuetto’ demonstriert Busch, dass er Humor und Bodenhaftung genau so beherrscht wie elegante Leichtigkeit. Das anschließende Finale gestaltet er mit elfenhaften Streicherfiguren wahrlich ‘con spirito’.

Kammermusikalische Brillanz

Die ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ (Haydn) eröffnet Busch mit sonnigem Gemüt, scheut im ‘Andante’ nicht das Sentiment, bleibt dabei aber stets kitschfrei. Hervorragende Einzelleistungen im Orchester, kammermusikalische Brillanz und weitsichtige Maßhaltung prägen den federnden Finalsatz.

In Mozarts ‘Linzer Sinfonie’ stellt Busch romantische Dimensionen und pulsierende Geschäftigkeit einander gegenüber. Den großen Bogen fest im Blick gestaltet er das ‘Poco adagio’ kraftvoll und transparent, durchmisst das ‘Menuetto’ mit tänzerischem Witz und beweist im ‘Presto’ unmittelbaren Sinn für Dramatik.

Philosophischer Geist

Auch Altbekanntes wie Mozarts ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’ klingt unter Buschs Stab frisch und modern – dabei liegt die Interpretation über 60 Jahre zurück. Schon diese wenigen Beispiele lassen erahnen, welch epochale Mozart-Aufnahmen Busch noch realisiert hätte, wäre er nicht 1951 gestorben. Buschs Interpretationen zeichnen sich nicht nur durch Klarheit und handwerkliches Können aus. Sie atmen einen philosophischen Geist, der sich allein durch die Integrität der Person erklären lässt, die hinter dem Musiker stand – eine Person, die als moralische Figur und großer Musiker bis heute nicht genug gewürdigt wird.
Miquel Cabruja


CRC Winter 2008

The Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra was trained by superb conductors: Launy Grondahl was the principal and in the 1930s the Ukrainian Nicolai Malko (1883-1961) was brought in to acquaint the players with the Slavonic repertoire, while the German Fritz Busch (1890-1951) fulfilled a similar function for the classics. Busch’s witty, crisp, rhythmically vivid Mozart recordings from Glyndebourne Festival Opera, of which he was principal conductor from 1934 to 1951, are rightly treasured by collectors (and recently issued on Naxos). Although Busch made his mark as a conductor of Opera, his work in the Haydn-Mozart repertory is particularlyvaluable, because he was one of the rare conductors able to grasp the full cultural and emotional Impact of these Enlightenment composers. Guild’s idea to reissue these Studio performances was excellent, although mention of the soloists in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante would have been welcome. Eine kleine Nachtmusik and the Haydn performances are Busch’s only recordings of these Works – and that of Symphony No. 88 has had very little exposure on CD – but he did record a somewhat more supple Linz Symphony with the BBC SO in 1934 (transferred an Biddulph m 83066-2). Despite this duplication, no collector with a taste for Haydn and Mozart will want to be without this precious new release. Busch’s Haydn is Wise and witty without ever being smart-alecky, while his Mozart is ardently emotional without ever being meltingly sentimental, as were some acclaimed Mozartians of his generation. Unlike allied arts like poetry, prose, and painting, music can communicate ineffable human qualities of

its Interpreters, and Busch’s status as a righteous man is not merely coincidental with his status as a mighty musician. The HMV and Telefunken sources have provided clear Sound, and insofar as Busch’s artistry was constantly elevated throughout his career, these performances are notably more listenable than some reissues of his performances.
Benjamin Ivry


Audiophile Audition Wednesday October 1st 2008

Fritz Busch (1890-1951) served music as part of an illustrious musical family which counted brothers Hermann and Adolf among the great instrumentalists of their era. A man of personal integrity as well as immense talent, Fritz Busch turned his heels on National Socialism soon after Goebbels suggested Busch head all musical activities for the Third Reich.  Having wandered around South America during World War II, Busch came to work in Denmark, where he and Nicolai Malko proved instrumental in building the musical life of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra.  An infrequent recording artist, Busch left a small legacy of inscriptions to which any addition is a welcome member for the disciplined excitement of his art.

The Haydn 88th (4 and 7 November 1949, from Electrola) enjoys the earmarks of the Busch style, including close attention to the woodwind details of the second movement, and the pungency of the sforzati that insist on a dramatic presence in the midst of an otherwise unruffled Largo. The muscular Menuetto bristles with aerial lyricism and manly swagger, each repetition gaining in monumentality and flair, especially in the horns and tympani. The rustic Trio drones and lolls with an irony worthy of Brueghel. The high energy of the two outer movements allows for brisk virtuosity in the woodwinds and string attacks, particularly as the flute leads a series of explosions and jocular counterpoints in the rollicking finale. More than one commentator has noted the similarity of the Busch energies to those of the demon Toscanini.

The Haydn Sinfonia Concertante (26-27 January 1951, from HMV) gives us fervent music-making at the end of Busch’s career, when his repute had already spread to the Metropolitan Opera as well as Glyndebourne.  The seamless integration of parts in the 1792 Sinfonia finds a thoroughly congenial realization in the Danish ensemble, a lovely balance of symphonic and chamber music aesthetics. The antiphons between bassoon and violin and tutti prove enthralling, a marvel of cassation and military pomp combined. Collectors will likely compare this performance to that of Toscanini’s live broadcast with the NBC. Delicacy of detail in the oboe and violin mark the tender Andante, the cello line alone seeming to float on a mist provided by string pizzicati, ostinati, and woodwind pedal. The violin part approaches the Mozart style perhaps more serenely than in any other Haydn work. The last movement Allegro con spirito resounds with sweet, light, bucolic evanescence, pert, liquid, and thoroughly at ease in the Viennese universe it so naturally inhabits.

The first of the Mozart works, the G Major Serenade (10 October 1948, from PLP) maintains a light step at all times, more than once reminding us of the Furtwaengler approach, despite some swishy acetates.  Strong bass harmonies fill out the harmonies of the Romanze, a steady pulse and sinewy majesty alternates with the tripping figures of the middle section, which at several points point to romantic figures in Mendelssohn. An assertive, streamlined Menuetto–although the trio sounds like a veiled calliope–leads a chugging, lightly pesant version of the Rondo finale, the gossamer mixed with the impishly thunderous.

The Busch Linz Symphony (7 November 1949, from HMV), in the Toscanini mold, hardly dawdles; instead, seeking the long, inflamed line, the music moves with militant urgency, a virtuoso conception. Clean, polished sound for the period assists in our appreciation of the rounded, elastic periods in the happy pomp of the first movement’s Allegro spiritoso. Even in spite of the rather andante pulse Busch applies, the Poco adagio still maintains a nobly warm series of gestures, a valediction forbidding mourning that pay a debt to Mozart‘s Masonic leanings. After the aristocratic, swaying Menuetto and its bucolic trio, the final Presto plays the bravura trump card, alternately tripping and sizzling through space, a veritable whirlwind of Viennese flair. If we have no documents of Busch before the Vienna Philharmonic, this wonderful performance more than suffices.
Gary Lemco


MusicWeb International Friday September 12 2008

The principal virtue of the famous early Glyndebourne recordings of Mozart’s Da Ponte operas is the conducting of Fritz Busch. Neither ponderous nor glib, it is always alive to the changing character of the music and to its dramatic qualities. All too little else is available to demonstrate his art so that this disc is a valuable addition, especially in respect of the two Mozart items.

The “Linz” Symphony is the highlight of the disc. I believe that Stravinsky said of Bruno Walter’s recorded rehearsal of the work that he often asked the orchestra to sing but never to dance. That cannot be said of this recording which manages to combine an understanding of the singing nature of the melodic lines with an irresistible feeling for the underlying dance rhythms. It is worth the price of the disc for this alone, but provided that you can respond to large-scale performances of “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” that performance is also well worth hearing.

Curiously the same does not apply to the Haydn to anything like the same extent. The Symphony comes first on the disc and the very slow tempo of the introduction to the first movement robs it of momentum and takes away much of its character. The tempi in the rest of the Symphony are not all slow, but somehow the flair for rhythm which is one of the great features of Busch’s Mozart performances deserts him as does, to my ears at least, that sense of spontaneity and the ability to change character in a moment that is so necessary in Haydn. This effect is added to by a dull recording quality which seems to put a veil between the listener and the performance. The recording quality in the other works is certainly not good, but is significantly better than it is for this Symphony.

The soloists in the Sinfonia Concertante are not named – a surprising omission as they well deserve individual recognition – but presumably they are the orchestral principals. Even if as a whole the performance does not catch fire as does the Mozart Symphony, it is played with refinement and care and is thoroughly enjoyable if not outstandingly memorable.

But I come back to the Mozart items. Both have that kind of instinctive and unselfconscious understanding of the music which was so typical of the earlier Glyndebourne recordings. Even if like me you find the Haydn disappointing the disc is well worth having for these pieces alone.
John Sheppard


MusicWeb International Wednesday August 06 2008

Fritz Busch’s post-war recordings with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra are important documents that preserve his vital, unostentatious and wholly persuasive musicianship in pretty good sound. They’ve retained their place in the reissue market – the Linz and the Sinfonia Concertante for example are also to be found in the Great Conductors of the Twentieth Century series in which Busch, naturally enough, featured [EMI 7243 5 75103 2 5]. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik has also been transferred on Biddulph 83066 – and so on.

There’s a sense of masculine directness, unaffected and unfussy, that courses through Haydn’s G major symphony. It opens weightily but is propelled through acute rhythmic control and in the slow movement we can hear some richly phrased woodwind statements that attest to Busch’s cordial relationship with the orchestra. Similarly the winding violin lines are precisely unveiled. It’s a pity that there’s some congestion in fortes from time to time but it doesn’t seriously limit enjoyment. Certainly the rusticity of the Menuetto won’t hinder pleasure and the finale – con spirito is taken at its word – ends the performance on a real high.

It’s very remiss of Guild not to note the names of the four soloists in the Sinfonia Concertante so I’ve saved some of their blushes – but I shouldn’t have had to. This is a robust, no-nonsense account, stylish, alert, splendidly prepared and well balanced. The string players have slim-line but attractively eager tones, nicely scaled and equalized though not overtly expressive. Violinist Leo Hansen plays with elfin eloquence in particular. Wolsing was an excellent oboist and makes his accustomed mark, as does bassoonist Carl Bloch.

Busch had recorded the Linz in London before the War with Boult’s BBC Symphony – but this later recording is preferable. With the BBC he had been guilty of rather tapered phrasing and a degree of mannerism. The Danish orchestra largely eschews the kind of pervasive portamenti that the BBC indulged in. The highlight is the affectionately moulded – but not manicured – slow movement.

Nobody really needs another Eine Kleine Nachtmusik though arguably historical performances are different. Of the two competing transfers the Biddulph is noisier but more present, this Guild more recessive and treble suppressed. I’d trade some of the noise for the greater vitality of the Biddulph but I dare say the smoother aural ride of this Guild would get other people’s vote.

A very good if well known conspectus, reasonably transferred, fallibly documented.
Jonathan Woolf