Classical Recordings from the 60s



Geoffrey Terry recorded Antonin Dvorák – Symphony No 9 in E minor Op 95, and many other pieces as well and has now released them through http://www.orchestralconcertcds.com

Here are some notes he sent us …
‘Once, whilst travelling on tour with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK I was asked what BRNO signified, was it perhaps the British Railways Northern Orchestra? And that was a serious suggestion.
To the English ear it is a strange sounding name, Brno. Probably not many appreciate that Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the capital of Moravia. It is just a short journey north of Vienna, in fact nearer to Vienna than to Prague. Now we have all heard of Prague.
The Brno Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the largest in Europe. It is one of only three orchestras ever to have played for the Pope – now he’s fussy.
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I once heard the Czech Philharmonic performing Dvo?ák’s Stabat Matter in Prague. The following evening I heard the same work performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in Brno. To my surprise I enjoyed the second performance more than the first. The conductor, Antonio Ross Marba, directed both performances, so a difference in style wasn’t the reason. The Czech Philharmonic is of course a wonderful Orchestra, one of the greatest in the world; the point is that the Brno Orchestra should be considered in the same category.
The Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, with their principal conductor, Ji?i Waldhans gave a performance of Dvo?ák’s 9th Symphony in the Royal Festival Hall on the 22nd October 1966. If was a live, public performance on the very first tour of the UK by the orchestra.
The concert was also recorded and the recording technique employed was CNSTR. What is that? Certified, natural, sound, technique recording; (more below).
The string section, on that historic occasion, constituted of: 16 first violins, 16 second, 16 violas, 16 cellos and 8 double basses, with a normal compliment of woodwind, brass and percussion. A full, Symphony Orchestra indeed.
The opening pp bars of the first movement set the scene, controlled and electrifying. Then the French Horns brief comment followed by the woodwind, responding with heartrending clarity, as if drifting across a calm lake.
The calm is then broken by a snapped announcement from the strings, followed by a crisp triplet on the timpani – the unmistakable sound of wood striking skin, of that there is no doubt. (It seems that capturing that particular sound creates difficulty for many CD publishers, not so here).
The short strings, followed by timpani, phrase is repeated several times then followed by the deep, rich sound of the basses and cellos all – 24 of them, their rosined bows exciting the strings of their instruments to produce a sound that is precisely reproduced on the recording. Then several more short statements from each of the sections of the orchestra
before the introduction leads to the first theme.
Waldhans draws beauty, drama, elegance and most of all nuances from the highly skilled team under his command.
The elegiac second movement emphasises the nostalgia of the composer for his homeland.
The staccato opening of the third movement reminds us that we are sitting in the Royal Festival Hall, perhaps the centre of the 5th row from the front. If we close our eyes for a moment we could easily be mislead into believing that to be the case. By now the professionalism of the orchestra has been clearly established. Once again the attack of the
timpani resonates in uncanny realism.
The full dynamic range is wholly due to the direction of the conductor since no adjustments were made to the level during the recording process. The only electronic alterations made to the recording at all were to remove any extraneous noises, even then providing that the music was unaffected. The end result is a unique experience. A truly,
natural, acoustic, mirror image of the glorious sound of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in a realistic representation of the sound that evening in the Royal Festival Hall.’[/slider]

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