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Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Music for the Royal Fireworks; Overture, HWV351 (1749) [9:13]
Organ Concerto in G minor, Op.4 No.1 (1735) [17:36]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Serenade No.7 in D major, K.250 Haffner (1776) [47:54]
Serenade No.9 in D major, K.320 Posthorn (1779) [38:57]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Leonore Overture No.3, Op.72b (1805) [14:55]
Lionel Rogg (organ)
NHK Symphony Orchestra/Günter Wand
rec. April 1982 (Handel and Serenade No.9); November 1979 (Beethoven and Handel Organ Concerto) and December 1983 (Serenade No.7), live, NHK Hall, Tokyo
KING INTERNATIONAL KKC 2041/2 [63:51 + 74:03]
 
In his later years Günter Wand became known as something of a Schubert-Brahms-Bruckner specialist, but in truth his sympathies were wide. During his long tenure as conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra, from 1947 to 1974, he programmed modern music frequently and at one point insisted that every concert include a contemporary piece. That said, he didn’t neglect standard repertoire and his early LP recordings do reflect a balance of classical and more challenging, tougher new music — Haydn and Schoenberg, and Schumann and Webern, for instance.
 
Wand was very popular in Japan and he made a number of visits. These two discs give us the classical Wand. He had recorded both the Serenades with the Gürzenich Orchestra and like a number of discs from that time they appeared on smaller but worthy labels such as Nonesuch, Counterpoint and Vanguard. The Tokyo concerts date from 1979 to 1983. The Posthorn Serenade (April 1982) shows how well Wand had drilled the NHK orchestra. There is fine sectional balance, blending within sections is good, and the winds are particularly communicative, not least the principal flautist in the Andante grazioso. The Haffner comes from a concert given in December 1983 and it too reflects well on the guest conductor and the NHK. It’s only a shame that the orchestra’s concertmaster is not identified, as his turn in the well-known Rondo, so often appropriated by violin soloists, is surely worthy of note.
 
One doesn’t much think of Handel when considering Wand and indeed, we only hear the Overture from the Music for the Royal Fireworks, a performance which, once past an uneasy downbeat, has a deal of stretchy phraseology in the lentemente section and a nourished string tone throughout. We do, however, also hear the Organ Concerto Op.4 No.1 with soloist Lionel Rogg. There is no harpsichord continuo audible unlike, say, Simon Preston’s 1967 recording with Yehudi Menuhin, and Rogg and Wand take the finale at quite a stately, and somewhat under-inflected tempo. Beethoven’s Leonore No.3 overture is a commanding one, and reminds us that he had set down a symphonic cycle on LP and included some overtures back in his Gürzenich days.
 
As usual in this series the notes are in Japanese only. The sound quality is fine with minimal audience intervention.
 
It would be interesting to know Wand’s programming imperatives during these Tokyo visits and to have an opportunity to hear the symphonic literature he brought there.
 
Jonathan Woolf

Experience Classicsonline