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Pablo Casals (cello)
Vintage Collection: Victor, Complete Acoustic and HMV Recordings
rec. 1915-1945
BIDDULPH LAB5059 [5 CDs: 370:16]

Pablo Casals was thirty-eight when he made his first records for Columbia in the USA, and was already a world celebrity. He’d travelled to the States the year before in 1914. In later life he recalled some recording sessions in Paris as far back as 1903, but these were a distant memory, and no test pressings or documentation have surfaced to substantiate that claim. For this recent release, Biddulph have repackaged into a 5 CD set their previous issues: The Victor Recordings 1926-8, Columbia Masters, 1915-25, and the HMV Concerto records 1936-45 under the title ‘Pablo Casals Vintage Collection’.

The New York acoustic Columbias are made up of short salon pieces. There are no sonatas or concertos. These would come later. The most substantial is Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, with an unnamed orchestra. From the start, Casals never enjoyed the recording process, but considered it a means of keeping his name before the public and thus furthering his career. He much preferred making music live. Yet to these miniatures he brings his full-focused artistry, turning ‘pebbles into diamonds’. These recorded gems reveal the status of his technique at the time – the pristine intonation, clarity of articulation, tasteful rubato, controlled vibrato and some rather antiquated slides or position changes.

CDs 2, 3 and 4 are given over to the acoustics, several of the pieces recorded more than once. Schumann’s Traumerai receives two performances, two years apart. They’re interpretively different. The later one from 1920 I prefer. It’s taken slightly slower, but conveys more ardent yearning. Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, the earliest of the acoustics dated 15 January 1915, is overburdened with some unwieldy expressive slides, both upward and downward. Popper’s Spanish Serenade is intoxicating with its spicy Iberian flavor, and Mendelssohn’s Spring Song is infused with elegance and refinement. Some of the early acoustic recordings, such as the Rubinstein Melody in F and Popper Mazurka, Casals returned to in the electrical era for Victor. In April 1915, he recorded the Prélude, Sarabande, Bourrée and Gigue from Bach’s Solo Suite No. 3 in C major, omitting the Allemande and Courante. He feels totally at ease with this music, living and breathing it in the natural phrasing and rhythms he employs.

In 1925 the cellist left Columbia and began recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The first recordings he set down were with pianist Edouard Gendron. Later Nikolai Mednikoff, a more sensitive pianist, would accompany him. Some of the pieces he’d already recorded acoustically. The sound quality in these electrical recordings has more immediacy, surface noise is quieter and the cellist’s tone has more radiance and bloom. The phrasing in Bach’s Adagio is quite magical, and Popper’s Vito has plenty of bubble and bounce. I love the elegant way he steers the twists and turns in Hillemacher’s Gavotte Tendre. Godard’s Berceuse de Jocelyn is suave and sophisticated, and Granados’ Spanish Dance in E minor benefits from some tasteful portamenti and rubato.

The final disc houses the HMV Concerto Recordings, set down between 1936 and 1945.The earliest is the Boccherini Concerto (arr. Grützmacher) made in 1936 with the London Symphony Orchestra under Landon Ronald. The outer movements are upbeat and animated, with the central slow movement expressively contoured. With the same forces there’s a very fine traversal of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, not heavily cut as in his previous versions. Just after the war the cellist, now in his sixties, made a recording of the Elgar Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Adrian Boult. It’s a heavily romantic reading, focusing on the work’s elegiac and brooding character. A day later he completed two movements only of the Haydn Concerto in D again with Boult. The reason the sessions were never completed is explained by Tully Potter who writes elsewhere that the cellist “broke off relations with all Britons and Americans for political reasons”.

The transfers are credited to Ward Marston and are superbly engineered. These valuable documents have been granted a new lease of life and are fresh and glowing. The accompanying annotations, I suspect taken from Biddulph’s previous issues, provide sufficient background and context.

Stephen Greenbank
 

Contents
CD 1 [79:24]
1. BACH (arr. Siloti & Casals): ADAGIO 3:54
recorded on 28/2/1927; first issued on Victor 6635 (matrix CVE 31977)
2. BACH (arr. Pollain): MUSETTE 3:44
recorded on 31/1/1928; first issued on Victor 1349 (matrix BVE 40386)
3. SCHUBERT (arr. Becker): MOMENT MUSICALE No.3 3:07
recorded on 4/1/1926; first issued on Victor 1143 (matrix BVE 31979)
4. CHOPIN (arr. Sieveking): ‘RAINDROP’ PRELUDE 4:21
recorded on 19/1/1926; first issued on Victor 6589 (matrix CVE 34415)
5. CHOPIN (arr. Popper): NOCTURNE in E-FLAT 4:43
recorded on 20/1/1926; first issued on Victor 6589 (matrix CVE 34419)
6. SCHUMANN: ABENDLIED 3:54
recorded on 4/1/1926; first issued on Victor 6630 (matrix CVE 32127)
7. WAGNER: PREISLIED from ‚DIE MEISTERSINGER‘ 4:22
recorded on 19/1/1926; first issued on Victor 6620 (matrix CVE 34412)
8. WAGNER: EVENING STAR from ‘TANNHÄUSER’ 4:15
recorded on 4/1/1926: first issued on Victor 6620 (matrix CVE 34076)
9. BRUCH: KOL NIDREI 8:57
recorded on 31/1/1928; previously unissued (matrices CVE 40384/40385)
10. RUBINSTEIN (arr. Popper): MELODY in F 2:44
recorded on 20/1/1926; first issued on Victor 1178 (matrix BVE 34421)
11. POPPER: MAZURKA 3:05
recorded on 28/2/1928; first issued on Victor 1349 (matrix BVE 42496)
12. POPPER: VITO 3:14
recorded on 31/1/1928; first issued on Victor 1311 (matrix BVE 31973)
13. HILLEMACHER: GAVOTTE TENDRE 3:25
recorded on 4/1/1926; first issued on Victor 1191 (matrix BVE 31967)
14. SGAMBATI (arr. Bouman): SERENATA NAPOLETANA 3:14
recorded on 1/2/1928; first issued on Victor 1542 (matrix BVE 40387)
15. GODARD: BERCEUSE de JOCELYN 4:39
recorded on 20/1/1926; first issued on Victor 6630 (matrix CVE 34420)
16. SAINT-SAENS: THE SWAN 2:45
recorded on 31/1/1928; first issued on Victor 1143 (matrix BVE 34074)
17. FAURE (arr. Casals): APRES UN REVE 2:58
recorded on 5/1/1926; first issued on Victor 1083 (matrix BVE 31972)
18. DEBUSSY (arr.Choisnel): MINUET from PETITE SUITE 2:42
recorded on 4/1/1926: first issued on Victor 1191 (matrix BVE 31969)
19. GRANADOS (arr. Casals): SPANISH DANCE in E MINOR 3:40
recorded on 28/2/1928; first issued on Victor 1311 (matrix BVE 34416)
20. GRANADOS (arr.Cassadó): INTERMEZZO (GOYESCAS) 4:28
recorded on 28/2/1927: first issued on Victor 6635 (matrix CVE 31978)
Pablo Casals with Nikolai Mednikoff (piano)

CD 2 [63:17]
1. ELGAR: SALUT d’AMOUR* 2:46
recorded on 15/1/ 1915; first issued on Columbia A 5679 (matrix 37 129-2)
2. HANDEL: LARGO from XERXES* 3:49
recorded on 15/1/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5649 (matrix 37 130-1)
3. RUBINSTEIN: MELODY in F2 2:51
recorded on 15. I 1915; first issued on Columbia A 5649 (matrix 37 131-1)
4. TARTINI: ADAGIO from CONCERTO in D MINOR* 4:14
recorded on 15/1/1915:, first issued on Columbia A 5654 (matrix 37 132-2)
5. BRUCH: KOL NIDREI* 8:24
recorded on 18/1/1915; first issued 011 Columbia A 5722 (matrices 37 133-1, 134-1)
6. POPPER: SPANISH SERENADE (Op.11 No.3) 2 2:50
recorded on 24/1/1915; first issued on Columbia A 3650 (matrix 37 149-2)
7. SAINT-SAENS: THE SWAN2 2:42
recorded on 24/1/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5650 (matrix 37 150-2)
8. CAMPAGNOLI: ROMANCE2 3:50
recorded on 27/1/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5654 (matrix 37 151-I)
9. FAUREé: APRES un REVE2 3:01
recorded in March 1915; first issued on Columbia A 6()20 (matrix unknown)
10. SCHUMANN: TRAUMEREI* 3:03
recorded on 14/4/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5679 (matrix 37 252-1)
11. POPPER: MAZURKA in G MINOR2 3:02
recorded on 23/4/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5697 (matrix 37 256-1)
12. LISZT: LIEBESTRAUM* 4:08
recorded on 5/3/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5656 (matrix 37 262-1)
13. BACH: AIR from SUITE No.3 in D* 4:18
recorded on 5/5/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5656 (matrix 37 263-1)
BACH: CELLO SUITE No.3 in C [13:30]:
14. PRELUDE 3:38
recorded on 23/4/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5782 (matrix 37 257-1)
15. SARABANDE 3:40
recorded on 23/4/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5782 (matrix 37 259-1)
16. BOUREéE 3:16
recorded on 23/4/1915; first issued on Columbia A 5697 (matrix 37 258-1)
17. GIGUE 2:46
recorded on 15/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5875 (matrix 48 697)
Pablo Casals with *Orchestra; 2Charles A. Baker (piano)

CD 3 [76:18]
1. HAYDN: MINUET in C2 3:47
recorded on 14/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5821 (matrix 48 695)
2. GRANADOS: SPANISH DANCE2 2:55
recorded on 14/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5847 (matrix 48 696)
3. HAYDN: ADAGIO from CONCERTO in D* 4:39
recorded on 15/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5875 (matrix 48 698)
4. GOLTERMANN: CANTILENA (CONCERTO in A Minor)* 2:55
recorded on 15/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5847 (matrix 48 699)
5. BOCCHERINI: ALLEGRO from SONATA No.6 in A2 4:09
recorded on 19/4/1916; first issued on Columbia 68025 D (matrix 48 710)
6. MENDELSSOHN: SPRING SONG2 2:16
recorded on 19/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 6020 (matrix unknown)
7. WAGNER: ABENDSTERN* 4:39
recorded on 21/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5953 (matrix 48 716)
8. SCHUMANN: ABENDLIED* 3:11
recorded on 21/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5907 (matrix 48 717)
9. MOZART: LARGHETTO (CLARINET QUINTET in A)* 4:15
recorded on 21/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5953 (matrix 48 718)
10. KREISLER: CHANSON LOUIS XIII and PAVANE2 4:12
recorded on 22/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5907 (matrix 48 719)
11. SAINT-SAENS: ALLEGRO APPASSIONATO2 3:09
recorded on 22/4/1916; first issued on Columbia A 5821 (matrix 48 721)
12. SCHUMANN: TRAUMEREI3 3:20
recorded on 2I I 1920; first issued on Columbia 68023 D (matrix 49 795)
13. SAINT-SAENS: THE SWAN3 2:44
recorded on 22/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 68027 D (matrix 49 796)
14. SCHUMANN: ABENDLIED* 3:42
recorded on 23/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 68024 D (matrix 49 801)
15. HANDEL: LARGO* 4:06
recorded on 23/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 68061 1.) (matrix 49 802)
16. RUBINSTEIN: MELODY in F3 3:14
recorded on 24/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 68026 D (matrix 49 804)
17. LISZT: LIEBESTRAUM3 3:56
recorded on 28/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 68023 D (matrix 49 812)
18. WAGNER: ABENDSTERN* 4:00
recorded on 29/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 68027 D (matrix 49 813)
19. LASSEN: THINE EYES SO BLUE3 2:34
recorded on 29/4/1920; first issued on Columbia 33032 D (matrix 79 147)
20. BACH: AIR from SUITE No.3 in D* 3:36
recorded on 29/1/1920; first i on Columbia 68026 D (matrix 49 814)
21. CHOPIN (arr. Popper): NOCTURNE in E-FLAT3 3:50
recorded on 30/4/1920: first issued on Columbia 68024 D (matrix 49 820)
Pablo Casals
with *Orchestra; 2Charles A. Baker, 3Walter Golde (pianos)

CD 4 [72:27]
1. CROUCH: KATHLEEN MAVOURNEEN* 2:55
recorded on 1 or 4/5/1920; first issued on Columbia 3:3008 D (matrix 79 154)
2. MOORE: BELIEVE ME IF ALL
THOSE ENDEARING YOUNG CHARMS* 3:02
recorded on 1 or 4/5/1920; first issued on Columbia 33008 D (matrix 79 155)
3. POPPER: GAVOTTE in D (Op.23)3 4:02
recorded on 23/1/1922; first issued on Columbia 68025 D (matrix 98 012)
4. ELGAR: SALUT d’AMOUR3 2:26
recorded on 24/1/1922; first issued on Columbia 33031 D (matrix 80 158)
5. HINKSON: WOULD GOD I WERE THE TENDER
APPLE BLOSSOM3 3:06
recorded on 24/1/1922: first issued on Columbia 33032 D (matrix 80 159)
6. RUBINSTEIN: ROMANCE in E-FLAT2 2:56
recorded on 30/1/1923; first issued on Columbia 33031 D (matrix 80 815)
7. SGAMBATI: SERENATA NAPOLETANA2 3:13
recorded on 31/1/1923; first issued on Columbia 2036 M (matrix unknown)
8. MACDOWELL: TO A WILD ROSE2 2:43
recorded on 31/1/1923: first issued on Columbia 3303(1 1) (matrix 80 817)
9. DEL RIEGO: OH, DRY THOSE TEARS2 3:19
recorded on 30/3/1923; first issued on Columbia 2037 M (matrix unknown)
10. BRUCH: KOL NIDREI4 9:00
recorded on 3/4/1923: first issued Columbia 68019 D (matrices 98 068, 069)
11. GLAZUNOV: MELODIE ARABE (Op.20 No.1) 4 3:12
recorded on 3/4/1923; first issued on Columbia 33(0) D (matrix 80 923)
12. HAYDN: ADAGIO from CONCERTO in D2 4:32
recorded on 2/2/1924; first issued on Columbia 68061 D (matrix unknown)
13. MENDELSSOHN: SERENADE2 (Op.67 No.6) 2:20
recorded on 2/2/1924; first issued on Columbia 33048 D (matrix 81 526)
14. BRAHMS: SAPPHISCHE ODE2 3:23
recorded on 2/2/1924; first issued on Columbia 68089 D (matrix unknown)
15. HANDEL: MINUET2 2:18
recorded on 16/2/1924; first issued on Columbia 2036 M (matrix unknown)
16. TCHAIKOVSKY: MEéLODIE2 3:06
recorded on 16/2/1924; first issued on Columbia 33048 D (matrix 81 571)
17. TCHAIKOVSKY: AUTUMN SONG (0p.37 No.10 ) 2 3:52
recorded on 16/2/ 1924; first issued on Columbia 68089 D (matrix unknown)
18. CUI: BERCEUSE (Op.20 No.18)2 3:05
recorded on 18/2/1924; first issued on Columbia 2037 M (matrix unknown)
19. BACH (arr. Siloti) ADAGIO4 4:12
recorded on 21/2/1925; first issued on Victor 6501 (matrix C 31977)
20. GRANADOS (arr. Cassadó) INTERMEZZO (GOYESCAS)4 4:35
recorded on 21/2/1925; first issued on Victor 6501 (matrix C 31978)
Pablo Casals with *Orchestra; 2 = Walter Golde; 3=Romano Romani;
Edouard Gendron (pianos)

CD 5 [78:50]
BOCCHERINI (arr.Grützmacher): Cello Concerto in B-flat [21:58]
recorded on 29/11/1936; first issued on HMV DB 3056/8 (matrices 2EA 4156/61)
[1] I. Allegro moderato 8:53
[2] II. Adagio 6:09
[3] III. Rondo: Allegro 6:48
HAYDN (arr. Gevaërt): Cello Concerto in D (Op.101)* [17:23]
recorded on 15/10/1945; previously unissued (matrices 2EA 10648/50 & 10701)
[4] I. Allegro moderato 12:30
[5] II. Adagio 4:48
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor (Op.85 )* [27:24]
recorded on 14/10/1945; first issued on HMV DB 6338/41S (matrices 2EA 10641/7)
[6] I. Adagio – Moderato 7:43
[7] II. Lento – Allegro molto 4:38
[8] III. Adagio 4:02
[9] IV. Allegro 10:57
[10] BRUCH: Kol Nidrei (Op.47) 11:44
recorded on 27/11/1936; first issued on HMV DB 3063/4 (matrices 2EA 4153/5)



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