137 Brahms: Symphony No. 1. London
SO/Antal Dorati. Am. Mercury 90268.**)***)
700 176 Mendelssohn:
Italian Symphony. Mozart: Symphony K550. Minneapolis SO/Antal
700 184 Brahms:
Symphony No. 4. Detroit SO/Paul Paray **)****)
700 455 Ravel:
Bolero, Saint-Saëns: Dance Macabre. Dukas:œ The Sorcer's
Apprentice. Detroit SO/Paul Paray. (Various Am. Mercury-recordings).**)****)
894 009 Liszt:
Piano concertos Nos. 1 and 2. Yuri Boukoff. Vienna SO/Laszlo
Somogy. Am. Mercury 18066. This recording
from Mercury's first stereo-series shows its age. Boukoff's
interpretations are less controled if compared to Janis' performances
that were recorded later. French pressing is to be preferred.
020 Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra.
London SO/Antal Dorati. Am. Mercury 90378. Truly Bartok, truly
021 Beethoven: Violin concerto. Joseph Szigeti. London SO/Antal
Dorati. Am. Mercury 90358 **) The Mercury-team must have known
that by inviting Josph Szigeti to record the Beethoven Concerto
with Antal Dorati (and of course the Brahms and Prokofiev No.
1 with Herbert Menges) that the recording would document the
art of a legend at some seventy years of age. Szigeti was born
on September 5, 1892 and died February 19, 1973. Dorati's accompaniment
is careful and sympathetic.
022 Saint-Saëns:œ Symphony No. 3. Marcel Dupre. Detroit
SO/Paul Paray. The American Mercury with reference 90331 had
also Chausson's Symphony.**)
024 and 6531 013 Dvorak: Cello concerto; Bruch: Kol Nidrei.
Janos Starker. London SO/Antal Dorati. European Mercury MGY
130 531. Also released as 850 420. Matrixes of 850 420 are used
for both 894 024 and 6531 013. Am. Mercury 90303. These are
most inspired performances. Both sound and interpretation are
025 Gershwin: Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue. Eugene List,
Eastman Rochester Orchestra/Howard Hanson. This Fontana release
is pressed from matrixes of European Mercury MGY 130 509. Am.Mercury
90002. Not exactly the Gershwin of my choice. The performance
of the concerto is at times hectic and lacks the broad gesture.
The sound is for an early stereo-Mercury at times impressive
but the cymbals can be quite prominent. My copy did not show
894 026 Brahms:
2nd Piano concerto. Gina Bachauer, London SO/Stanislaw Skrowaczewsky.
European Mercury MGY 130
530. Am. Mercury 90301. The strong playing of Gina Bachauer
and firm performance of the orchestra are enhanced by the good
recording. This release is recommended because the matrixes
for pressing the MGY 130 530 were used and they were supplied
027 Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade.
Minneapolis SO/Antal Dorati. Pressed from matrix of European
Mercury MGY 130 510. (which was subsequenly issued as Philips
VY 838 501 and coupled with Borodin's Polovetsian Dances; 1963).
Am. Mercury 18008 (1959). Recommended because of sound and because
of the execution of a well structured and sensible performance.
894 028 Beethoven:
Wellington's Sieg. London SO/Antal Dorati. Tchaikovsky:
Overture 1812. Minneapolis SO/Antal Dorati. European Mercury
MGY 130 514. A 'sonic spectacular' including canons and bells.
Over 1.000.000 copies were sold of the original American release
of Mercury SRD 19. The Fontana release that I came across shows
that it is difficult to produce so many matrixes in order to
press over 1.000.000 copies while at the same time keeping a
high level of soundquality.
894 029 Tchaikovsky:
Pathétique. London SO/Antal Dorati. Earlier as Philips
VY 838 504 (1963). Am. Mercury 90312. This is a reading with
some beautiful moments. Especially the balletlike nature of
the 2nd movement comes off well. The complete set of symphonies
was much later released on Philips 6747 195 (6 Lp's) from new
matrixes that were cut with less dynamics but show the qualities
of a wider range and the warm and harmonious Philips sound to
the benefit of Dorati's performances that get more depth.
894 080 Liszt:
Hungarian Rhapsodies 1, 4, 5 and 6. London SO/Antal Dorati.
Am. Mercury 90371. Sound: this recording has the dry Mercury
sound wich enables the players of celli, bass and cimbalon to
build op harmoniously. Also because of interpretation recommended.
081 Suppé: Overtures - Poet and Peasant, Pique Dame,
Light Cavalry, Bocaccio, Fair Galatea, Morning Noon and Night
in Vienna. Detroit Symphony/Paul Paray
(Am.Mercury 90269). I did not listen to this recording but knowing
how well Paray conducts both major works (like Dvorak) and items
in this lighter category on Mercury 90203 (Bouquet de Paray),
this must also be fine playing. **)
Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 41 & 39.
London SO/Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. Pressed from Philips-made
matrixes of European Mercury 130 506 Am. Mercury 90184. Strong
894 083 Stravinsky:
L'Oiseau de Feu. London SO/Antal Dorati. Dorati recorded
The Firebird twice: Am. Mercury 18010 and 90226. The performance
of this 894 083-disc must be from the tape of the older 18010
894 084 Tchaikovsky:
Swan Lake. Minneapolis SO/Antal Dorati. Am.Mercuty 18025
894 085 Prokofiev:
Piano concerto no. 3; Rachmaninoff Piano concerto No. 1.
Byron Janis and the Moscow Philharmonic/Kyrill Kondrachin. For
my copy the original matrixes made by Mercxury for Philips 130
525 were used. Beautifull performances and good sound, though
some recordnoise is evident.
894 088 Franck:
Symphony in D. Detroit SO/Paul Paray. Sensitive performance.
Here as in so many other releases of the 894 series the sound
is rounded if compared to the sometimes fierce sound of the
releases in the MGY130 series.
could not find the Fontana equivalent of Dvorak's New World Symphony
conducted by Paray who in a very good performance shows with the
chosen tempi that the 9th is the logical successor of the 8th
Symphony. I did not find the Schubert's 8th Symphony conducted
by Skrowaczewski and Beethoven's 5th Symphony conducted by Dorati
which appeared earlier on Philips 838 502. As two channel transfers
were made by the Mercury people from the original channel recordings
for earlier Philips releases and for the Fontana reissues it is
evident that the very freshness, transparency and refined quality
of the original sound recording was somewhat lost, also because
Philips did some filtering also. Nevertheless one can still hear
to a certain extent that these recordings were made with amplifiers
and mixing consoles that work with valves. From about 1974
on Mercury tapes were again released on the Philips label; the
Fontana label more or less vanishing from the catalogue). Even
then the typical characteristics of the Mercury sound are still
discernable though to an even lesser extent in the 6531 series.
002 Wagner: Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Vorspiel zum 1.
London SO/Antal Dorati; Vorspiel zum 3. Akt, Detroit SO/Paray;
Overture 'Der Fliegende Holländer', Götterdämmerung:
Tagesgrauen und Siegfrieds Heimfahrt, Detroit SO/Paul Paray;
Lohengrin: Vorspiel zum 3. Akt London SO/Antal Dorati. Am. Mercury
90232 and 90287. Earlier released as Fontana 700 174. Recommended.
003 Brahms: Hungarian Dances. London SO/Antal Dorati. Am.Mercury
004 Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 5,
Gina Bachauer, London SO/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Earlier as
Philips VY 838 500. Am.Mercury 90321. Recommended for the sound.
005 Schumann: Piano concerto and Quasi variazioni from Sonata
No. 3. Byron Janis, Minneapolis SO/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.
Am. Mercury 90383. The piano is blended well with the orchestra.
The sound is not as pungeant as with other releases but shows
good ambience. As a result the pianotone is rounded, but nevertheless
beautiful. (Is it a Baldwin?) This release is pressed from matrixes
839 532. It is a pity that the second movement is on side one.
Beautiful and very sensitive playing by Janis. Recommended.
107 Szering Plays Fritz Kreisler: Tambourin Chinois, Liebesleid,
Liebesfreud, Caprice Viennois, a.o.
with Charles Rosen (piano). Am.Mercury 90348. The Fontana release
uses the matrixes of the original Philips release 838 426.
008 Gershwin: An American in Paris. Offenbach (arr.Rosenthal):
Gaïté Parisienne. Minneapolis
SO/Antal Dorati. Offenbach/Rosenthal was coupled with Graduation
Ball of Johann Strauss Jr. on European Mercury MGY 130 519 (pressed
from matrixes supplied by Mercury). Offenbach appeared
on Am. Mercury 90431 and Gershwin on 90290.. The Offenbach/Rosenthal
piece is not to everybody's taste. The sound and playing of
the Gershwin is very good.
010 Beethoven: Symphony No. 3. Minneapolis SO/Antal Dorati.
First issued as European Mercury MGY 130 508, later released
as Philips 839 534. Am. Mercury 18047. This is an early stereo-recording
(1958) and the quality of it shows the beginning of that era.
The performance is not only uninspired but not at all Beethoven.
025 The Romeros play works for guitar by Teleman, Schubert,
Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Bach, Sor, etc. Am. Mercury 90417. The
sound of this Fontana-release suffers from dynamic enhancing
and compression. Good performances with Spanish soul. Sor's
Variations on a Theme of Mozart are played by Celedonio Romero
with verve and compassion in a gypsy-like style with rubato
and singing strings, this freedom being the privilege of the
older man. His son Pepe recorded the same piece some 15 years
later (1977) for Philips and was more truthful stylistically.
027 and 6545 027 Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition.
Minneapolis SO/Antal Dorati. On European Mercury MGY 130 515
coupled with Prelude and Dance from Khovanshchina. Am. Mercury
90342. The Fontana releases were coupled with Philips-recordings
of Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia played by the (Royal)
Concertgebouw Orchestra with Jean Fournet and Polovetsian Dances
performed by the Vienna SO and Philh. Chorus, conductor Willem
van Otterloo. Recommended because of Dorati's 'authentic' Moussorgsky
with his orchestra from Minneapolis.
029 Liszt: Piano concerto No. 1. Byron Janis, Moscow PO/Kyril
Kondrashin. Pianoconcerto No. 2. Byron Janis,
Moscow Radio SO/Gennady Roshdestvensky. Am. Mercury 90329. Balanced
playing of orchestras and conductors, and lyricism by Janis
who gives Liszt what he really deserves. Kondrashin and Roshdestvenky
050 Brahms: Violin concerto. Henryk Szering. London SO/Dorati.
Matrix from 839-series. Am. Mercury 90308. Not the dramatic,
choleric Brahms. Nevertheless well structured performance and
beautiful playing by Szering. Recommended.
*) We all know how important
the cuttingprocess and the pressing on relative hard vinyl is.
French made matrixes and pressings have a harder vinyl and show
in practically every case a better midband and more clarity.
Also Fontana 700 037 WGY attains more drama in the French edition
(Liszt Piano concertos performed by Yuri Boukoff with Laszlo
Somogyi). The Philips-recordings mastered by Mercury in the
USA were pressed on the vinyl used by Mercury. PHS 900-132 (Gérard
Souzay) shows his voice with neater contours, but the Lp has
also more hiss.
**) These releases I
did not audition.
***) These recordings
were possibly made in cooperation with EMI.
of Brahms' First Symphony with Dorati conducting the London
Symphony Orchestra which appeared in the early Fontana 700 series
as 700 136 WGY was the same Mercury-recording (American reference
90268) released by EMI as AMS 16082 in April 1961. If I am not
mistaken it seems that Philips only could release this and other
early stereo-recordings in one of their subseries: 700 039 WGY
with Dvorak's Slavonic Rhapsody and 700 184 WGY with Brahms
Fourth Symphony. I did not investigate Fontana's 700 series
and the earlier Philips 850 and 839 series..