Russian Music from Columbia LPs of the 1950s (Part III)
Tchaikovsky - Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33 - Leonard Rose, Cello - New York Philharmonic / George Szell
Rachmaninov - Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 - Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 - Philadelphia Orchestra / Eugene Ormandy
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93 - New York Philharmonic / Dimitri Mitropoulos - Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 99 - David Oistrakh, Violin - New York Philharmonic / Dimitri Mitropoulos
The extremely elegant (and good-sounding) 1952 performance of Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme from 'cellist Leonard Rose and conductor George Szell is from a "Limited Edition" LP from about the early 1960s.
It's probably safe to say that the other recorded performances offered here certainly number among the greatest from Oistrakh, Mitropoulos and Ormandy.
The original jacket notes for Shostakovich's 10th Symphony are recommended for anyone interested in the "cultural journalism" which accompanied Cold War politics (or, for that matter, for anyone interested in the lead-up to the present moment, "artistic success" being associated in an "unspoken" manner with an artist's "head-whirling" earning power*). At any rate, almost nothing contained in these notes should be taken on faith - written long before the later admission Shostakovich made about the Tenth Symphony ("Testimony", published 1979):
"I couldn't write an apotheosis to Stalin, I simply couldn't. I knew what I was in for when I wrote the Ninth. But I did depict Stalin in music in my next symphony, the Tenth. I wrote it right after Stalin's death, and no one has yet guessed what the symphony is about. It's about Stalin and the Stalin years. The second part, the scherzo, is a musical portrait of Stalin, roughly speaking. Of course there are many other things in it, but that is the basis.
I must say that it's difficult work depicting the benefactors of humanity in music. Now Beethoven managed it, from a musical point of view. He was mistaken from the point of view of history, however."
(In the moment, anything else which comes to mind concerning this music is of a personal nature ... the Oistrakh / Mitropoulos performance of the Op. 99 Violin Concerto served as this listener's first introduction to the music of Shostakovich ... in around 1964. The fascination with the music, however - and this recorded performance in particular - not only continues, but grows ... in itself a fascinating thing to contemplate in a world of disposable occupations.)
LP transfers from material recorded 1952, 1954 and 1956 (Columbia).
Includes original covers, notes, labels, etc.
* An unknowing - though almost literally direct echo from an anonymous author writing (1896) in the art journal, "The Art Amateur":
"Genius is only recognized in those who are successful..."
(quoted by Ursula Frohne in "Maler und Millionaere - Erfolg als Inszenierung: Der amerikanische Kuenstler seit dem ausgehenden 19. Jahrhundert" ["Painters and Millionaires – Success as Stage-Production: The American Artist Since the Late 19th Century"], 2000, Verlag der Kunst, Dresden)