February 27, 2011 at 4:50 PM
New release from Orchestral Concert Cds
Benjamin Britten violin concerto with Wanda Wilkomirska
Recorded during a live performance in the Royal Festival Hall.
The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Witold Rowicki.
Coupled with Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony and an encoré
Stanislav Moniuszko 'Mazur' from Act IV of 'Straszny dwórStanislav Moniuszko
In April 1967 I had the great pleasure of being invited to tour the UK with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Their principal conductor, Witold Rowicki, who had initially studied violin and music theory at the Krakow Conservatory, and therefore had a particular interest in the immense talent of, Wanda Wilkomirska, the soloist who accompanied the orchestra, conducted throughout the tour. A strong “musical union” developed between the two musicians and they gave many performances both in Poland and on tours abroad.
Maestro Rowicki was born in 1914 and died in October 1989.
Wanda Wilkomirska, at the age of 82, is still very active, principally as professor at the Sydney Conservatorium in Australia. She has played on all continents, 50 countries in all, and recordings of her performances have been issued by Connoisseur Society in New York, resulting in awards for: ‘Best of the Year’ (1972) and Grand Prix du Disque, (1974). She also recorded for: Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Philips, Naxos and Polskie Nagrania.
I recently surprised her by playing to her the recording I made in the Royal Festival Hall, during the course of the 1967 tour, in which she performed the Britten violin concerto. I should perhaps mention that I am a recording engineer by profession. She had completely forgotten that the concert was recorded and was both surprised and delighted by the sound quality, after so many years.
The recording was undertaken utilising CNSTR, (certified natural sound technique recording), a process which guarantees a very high standard of balance and natural sound. Following an intense assessment of the performance and sound we mutually agreed it essential that the recording be published.
In fact Madam Wilkomirska has given many performances of the Britten concerto. Of note: the inaugural concert of the Barbican Hall in 1976 with Erich Leinsdorf, and the opening of the New York Philharmonic season in 1977, in which she appeared once again with Maestro Leinsdorf.
The Festival Hall recording captures the wonderful atmosphere that existed, at that time, and Madam Wilkomirska gave an extraordinary performance playing on her 1734 Guarneri.
The CD will be released in March of 2011 and includes a fiery performance of the symphony no 4 by Tchaikowsky. The full power of the string section, (14/14/14/14/8), is represented in a mirror image of that heard in the concert hall at the time, and is perfectly balanced against the clear and crisp sound of the woodwind and brass; in addition the timpani really does sound like skin being struck by wood; rather than a garage door being slammed. Unfortunately, with many modern recordings one gains the impression that there are perhaps only 8/8/8/8/4, or even less, in the string section and the instruments of the orchestra seem to move physically depending on their participation in the work being performed, because as they play their sound is electronically adjusted to bring them into the required position, a very unnatural situation.
The CD closes with the encore from the evenings’ concert; a particular favorite of Maestro Rowicki, The 'Mazur' from Act IV of 'Straszny dwór (The Haunted Manor) by Stanislaw Moniuszko. Even on the first hearing this piece is immediately appealing and it is quite amazing that there are no other recordings of the piece available as an orchestral show-piece, it was written for chorus and orchestra.
CD12/2011 has been dedicated to the great Polish violinist Wanda Wilkomirska.
For further details and to place an advanced orders please visit: www.occds.org
A sound sample will shortly be available on the website.
Sample copies available for review purposes.
Information supplied by Geoffrey Terry, Orchestral Concert CDs.Press notice:
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