Dvorák: Die Hussiten; Brahms: Violin Concerto / Szeryng
Clear, somewhat dry mono sound gives these 1967 performances a touch of shrillness and puts a raw edge on Henryk Szeryng's violin tone that he surely didn't have in person. Oddly, this brightness complements the performances, which have remarkable vitality and generosity of spirit. Tempos in the concerto, first movement especially, are swift, the rhythms well-sprung, and Szeryng's attack on the music is utterly fearless, even when risking the occasional sour note. The wind soloists in the Adagio show great personality even if, again, their tone isn't ideally smooth; but the phrasing of the main theme of the finale by both Kubelik and Szeryng offers an object lesson on how to inject a degree of stylish emphasis without sounding mannered. This isn't the most perfect performance, but it's extremely satisfying all the same, a vision of the music that's healthy and positive in the best sense.
Kubelik's studio recording of the Hussite Overture is one of the best available, and if anything this live recording is even more exciting. The piece surely meant a great deal to him, living in exile from communist Czechoslovakia, just as it had special significance for Dvorák himself. The composer used it as his musical calling card whenever he was invited to conduct abroad, and it seems that Kubelik and his Bavarian forces treat it much the same way. They attack the music with unquenchable gusto, and you have to hear the coda to believe just how excitingly this music can be played. Never mind the slight sonic limitations: the ear adjusts quickly enough. This is a joyous souvenir of the 1967 Vienna Festival. You'll wish you had been there.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: ORF-C719071
Composer: Antonín Dvořák, Johannes Brahms
Conductor: Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Henryk Szeryng