Fricsay/Berlin RIAS SO: Bartok Concerto for Orchestra (rec. 1957) - French DG 18377
Jacket VG / LP VG / French pressing
This handsome gatefold LP from Deutsche Grammophon (18377, French pressing, tulip label, mono) features Ferenc Fricsay’s powerful and brilliant account of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra Sz 116, recorded on 9 April 1957 in the warm acoustics of Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin with the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin on resplendent form from first bar to last.
Wrote the critic R.F. in his review for the January 1958 issue of The Gramophone:
“This is a splendid record, and I can only hope to show why I still prefer the Karajan and Ansermet versions by drawing attention to details of little importance in themselves. Thus, ensemble wavers only just perceptibly here and there, for instance in bars 35 and 307-8 in the first movement, and I have the impression that this orchestra does not play this work as often as the big English and American orchestras do. Trumpets in the finale are not so precise as on the rival discs, and the timpani glissando in bar 255 of this movement is inaudible. The whole work sounds a little as though it is being played by a fine orchestra doing wonders with unfamiliar and difficult music. And there are wonders on this disc. The clarity is astonishing. In particular I found myself noticing the harp as never before; for instance, near the start of the third movement. There is no recording in which so much detail can be heard ; the accompaniments are clear, as well as the tunes. The playing is very good too; it just lacks the final assurance and authority of the Karajan and Ansermet discs, but only just. Fricsay's is a somewhat romantic interpretation. Does he perhaps make too much of the lyrical tune in the fourth movement? The end of this movement is taken surprisingly slowly. He inadvertently drew my attention to a bar in the first movement which I had not noticed before. After bar 93 Bartok wanted a short silence of an exact length, and he took the trouble to interpolate a two-eight bar with rests for every instrument. Ansermet makes it a four-eight bar, and so does Karajan. Fricsay makes it seven-eight, which seems excessive. He also has a strangely long silence in bar 34. Or is this editing? But to anyone who buys this fine record, such minutiae will seem irrelevent.”
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD. There is a small tear to the front panel and mild shelfwear, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, bends, or owners' markings and the jacket remains solid and very attractive – overall, a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is VERY GOOD. Although surfaces are not CD silent – there is light surface noise – in general the playback is superb, the brass ringing out resplendently. If you must have a flawless or even near-MINT copy, then you are advised to look elsewhere – overall, this is a very good collector's copy.