C0530. SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY Cond. Boston S.O.: Don Juan (Strauss); Concerto for Orchestra (w.Original Ending) (Bartók), Live Performance, 30 Dec., 1944; Ode – Elegiac Chant (Stravinsky), Live Performance, 8 Oct., 1943 – World Premiere Performance; Oberon – Overture (Weber). (England) Guild 2321, Live Performances, 1943-48. Final Sealed Copy! - 795754232127
"A conductor of natural virtuosity and color refinement, Serge Koussevitzky (1874-1951) established a virtual dynasty with the Boston Symphony from 1924-1949. The performances on this Guild reissue with remasterings by Peter Reynolds testify to the volatility and versatility of the ensemble under its charismatic leader, who refined the Boston Symphony to a point that Virgil Thomason once called it 'overtrained'.
It was Koussevitzky who commissioned Bartok to create his epic Concerto for Orchestra, and we are privy to the second performance ever of this haunting, virtuoso piece (30 December 1944). The opening chords from the BSO basses announce a depth of tonal beauty consonant with Koussevitzky’s same lavish commitment to Sibelius. The perpetual mobile finale is the original, terse ending of the work; though this does not deny the vociferous treatment the music receives from the BSO, who play as men possessed.
Stravinsky composed his 1943 Ode – Elegiac Chant specifically on a commission in memory of Natalie Koussevitzky. The performance (8 October 1943) is the world premiere. A sincere dirge in three movements, the music pays tribute to Stravinsky’s liturgical impulses, his background in Russian orthodox hymnody. The Weber Overture (4 March 1947) evinces warm delicacy and fleet virtuosity, having been a favorite of the conductor, who programmed it ten times in the course of his quarter century of stewardship of the BSO."
— Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition
"In 1942, Koussevitzky's wife Natalie died, and he established the Koussevitzky Foundation in her memory, a body which even today continues to commission new works. One of the first under this aegis was Stravinsky's Ode, dedicated to Natalie's memory. Rounding out this disc are Koussevitzky's splendid performances of Richard Strauss' Don Juan (a work he performed 22 times with the Orchestra) and one of the conductor's favorite overtures, Oberon, by Weber. This delightful reminder of Koussevitzky's qualities in early Romantic music adds a further dimension to this collection of his outstanding broadcasts, with superb orchestral playing of fantasy and imagination."
- Ned Ludd