Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Symphony No. 10 in E Minor *
Maurice RAVEL
Bolero **
Dances from Galanta **
Czech Philharmonic conducted by Karel Ancerl *
RIAS Symphony Orchestra Berlin conducted by Ferenc Fricsay **
recorded 1956 Prague *, Berlin **.
DG 457 080-2 [76.17]

Amazon.Fr 85,93 FF / EUR 13,10  [My copy into the UK was £11.23 incl. p&p. LM]

This disc is a must for those collectors who cherish fond memories of the early yellow DGG release, or the later re-issue of this recording on Heliodor with the sombre peasants on the sleeve. It is an issue that I personally have been waiting for since I bought my first CDs in 1983. I have written to DG in London requesting its issue … to no avail. Then by chance, I found it advertised on Amazon's French site. You may remember the 1998 DG Centenary Collection (the series of 60 discs released to commemorate 100 years of the Yellow Label).

In the days of LP, DG used to release records with German, English, French and Italian sleeve notes - presumably because they were international issues. In France however, all of these issues were supplied, usually in a double gatefold sleeve, with exclusively French sleeve notes! I thought, at the time, that this was a little strange, but the practice is obviously still rampant. DG France is obviously celebrating its parent company with a different set of issues, none of which were advertised in England, and may still be available to persistent purchasers.

Ancerl's performance of this symphony is in the same tradition of his other well known and loved Shostakovich recordings (1, 5 and 7) all available here on the Supraphon label. The current issue was a co-production from DGG and Supraphon and was the preferred version on LP in the late 50s. Hearing it again in this stunning transfer I can only urge you to obtain a copy and enjoy.

The first movement is kept on the move, and its cumulative power at the height of the climax is absolutely shattering. We easily forget just how good the Czech P.O. was in the fifties and also what a superb conductor Ancerl was of Shostakovich, among others. The second movement, the portrait of Stalin, is a display of absolute virtuosity from the orchestra and as violent an interpretation as you could hope to hear (fast and furious). The third movement is steady and lyrical and is followed by a finale which, if played live, would I am sure have the audience out of their seats.

It almost seems churlish to say so little about the other performances (very strange bedfellows), but in their way they are just as good as the Shostakovich. Ferenc Fricsay was one of the stalwarts of the early DGG LP catalogue and would have gone very much further if he hadn't died from cancer in 1963. Just how good he was is shown by the number of releases still in the catalogue. The Kodaly has been released here before, but as far as I can ascertain the Bolero is new. Both show why Fricsay was so highly regarded - he was able to conjure up playing on a recording which gave the impression of being taken "on the hoof" so to speak. He is badly missed, but his art can happily still be appreciated through his many recordings.

If you like Shostakovich, this release is an absolute must and DG (or Universal nowadays) must be absolutely crazy to have left this performance lying in its vaults and not issued it over here.

Go out and buy it - it is a tragedy that these issues were not publicised in the UK. You might be interested to know that they are also hidden from view via the Universal France Website. You would be right if you are not surprised to hear this!!!

John Phillips

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