Tchaikovsky Swan Lake Suite From The Ballet Hi-Q Records XRCD24
Kurtz was a familiar name with the Philharmonia to the record collector of the 1950s and Yehudi Menuhin was in his prime. Menuhins presence on the recording can be explained by a long tradition of celebrated violinists performing the solo violin parts of Swan Lake, from Leopold Auer at the first production to Mischa Elman for Diaghilev and contemporary with this recording, Campoli for Fistoulari.
In the original review in The Gramophone of December 1958, W.S.M. remarked: The sound of the orchestra is extremely well defined all the way through, and the tunes are enunciated in a most dapper fashion; Kurtz really understands the style of the music… and found Menuhins solo violin contributions make you sit up and listen hard, to his phrasing and expression… and concluded that compared with rival versions, this record was more stylish and more attractively played. Dont try to dance to it, but do listen to it.
A tall, imposing figure in front of an orchestra, so tall that he often dispensed with the usual conductor’s podium, Efrem Kurtz had a graceful, baton-less technique that drew a fluid yet well-controlled response from the players and infused a vivid poetry into romantic music in particular. Much sought after in the music of his native Russia, and in the ballet music in which he first made his name conducting Anna Pavlova, Kurtz was a link back to the musical life of pre-revolutionary St Petersburg. So wrote most eloquently Noel Goodwin in his 1995 obituary in the Independent of the distinguished 95 years old Russian conductor, who had studied with Glazunov and Tcherepnin no less, and was a pupil of Arthur Nikisch.
“The clarity is outstanding, with a huge dynamic range, strong impact, and good frequency extremes. The high end sounds especially impressive, with a shimmering treble response…the stereo spread is also commendable, as is the orchestral depth. So, what we get are excellent sonics to match an exuberant performance. Never mind the age; it’s better than almost anything made today.” – John Puccio, Classical Gandor
Yehudi Menuhin, violin solo
Efrem Kurtz, conductor
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Swan Lake “Le Lac Des Cygnes”, Op. 20 Ballet Suite
1. a. Introduction
b. No. 2: Valse (Act 1)
c. No. 4: Pas de trios, Nos. 1-6 (Act 1)
2. No. 5: Pas de deux, Nos. 1 & 2 (Act 1)
3. a. No. 5: Pas de deux, Nos. 3 & 4 (Act 1)
b. No. 10: Scene (Act 2)
c. No. 13: Danses des cygnes Nos. 1, 2 & 4 (Act 2)
4. a. No. 13, Danses des cygnes, No. 5 (Act 2)
b. No. 20: Danse hongroise (Czardas) (Act 3)
c. Danse russe (from Supplement)
Recorded March & April 1958, Kingsway Hall, London. Recording Producers: R. Kinloch Anderson & Peter Andry. Balance Engineers: Neville Boyling & Robert Gooch