Wednesday, 14 December 2016

CD Review (The Straits Times, December 2016)

The Mono Era 1948-1957
Deutsche Grammophon 479 5516 (51 CDs) 

Given the recent worldwide craze in collecting vinyl recordings and an upsurge of nostalgia, it is not surprising that the major recording labels are reopening their archival vaults for reissue and re-acquaintance. This box-set of selected monaural recordings from the German label's vast catalogue is a revelation, not just because of the quality of the performances. The original sleeve art of the albums, with their iconic yellow covers, has also been reproduced.

Thanks to their longevity, the Amadeus Quartet, pianists Shura Cherkassky, Wilhelm Kempff and Sviatoslav Richter, baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conductors Wilhelm Furtwängler and Lorin Maazel are names which are still familiar to modern listeners. It is fascinating to sample some of their earlier work.

Just as interesting are the recordings by pianists Stefan Ashkenase (in Chopin Sonatas) and Andor Foldes (Liszt and Rachmaninov Piano Concertos), bass Josef Greindl (Schubert's Winterreise), cellists  Ludwig Hoelscher (Brahms, Grieg and Strauss Cello Sonatas)  Enrico Mainardi (Haydn and Schumann Cello Concertos), violinist Johanna Martzy (a violin recital programme), the Loewenguth Quartet (Debussy and Ravel String Quartets) and conductors Fritz Rieger, Fritz Lehmann and Ferdinand Leitner. 

Does anybody today remember who they were? Thanks to these invaluable documents, many issued on CD for the first time, their names will not be forgotten.     

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