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Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

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Elder conducts Lohengrin

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Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,



Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
06 Feb 2007

PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf

I suppose you will find this quite an addition to the Melchior legacy if you are a collector of every sound Melchior ever uttered.

Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf

Narrator Lauritz Melchior. Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner. Recorded live 1951.

Myto 061.H109 [CD]

$11.99  Click to buy

I’m sure you won’t mind the heavy hiss of the acetate recordings and you won’t have problems with the sagging pitch of the orchestra at the beginning due to the worn out recording. You will definitely enjoy every inflection by Mr. Melchior who clearly enjoys himself while trying to imitate a cat, a duck, a bird etc. in the well-known clownish style of some of his radio-shows in the fifties. Mr. Melchor’s admirers will be glad to note that the tenor had at least one thing in common with his archenemy Rudolf Bing of the Met who fired him: their identical Germanic pronunciation. Mr. Reiner’s admirers maybe will somewhat less happy due to the sound though it is clear he was very inspired by the great narrator.

Nevertheless I have a small question for the label. Mr. Melchior’s detailed chronology doesn’t mention a single performance of this piece in 1951 (Myto doesn’t give an exact date). His discography tells us there is indeed an unpublished commercial recording with Reiner and the Chicago Symphony, but even 56 years ago recording engineers were able to record without a distorting hiss. There is, however, a performance of Peter and the Wolf by Melchior and Reiner in June 1949. This was a radio performance, which probably was recorded unto acetates. The orchestra is not the Chicago Symphony but the NBC. I have more than an inkling that this Myto is that radio performance.

The interesting tracks on this Cd are the parts of Tannhäuser, Tristan, Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, commercially recorded during the tenor’s heyday. But I’m sure that every Wagnerian, Melchiorian or lover of great singing acquired these arias long time ago.

Jan Neckers

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