C1036. GRZEGORZ FITELBERG Cond. London Phil.: Tsar Saltan – Suite (Rimsky-Korsakov); Symphony #3 in D (Tchaikovsky); Fitelberg Cond. London Phil., w.EUGENIA UMINSKA: Violin Concerto #1 (Szymanowski). (Austria) Dutton CDBP 9808, recorded 1947-48. Transfers by Michael J. Dutton. - 765387980825
“Fitelberg (1879-1953), a name entirely new to me, is a wonderful discovery. Born in Latvia, he made his home in Poland, where he was conductor of the Warsaw Philharmonic from 1908 to the outbreak of WW I, when he moved to St Petersburg. He conducted for the Diaghilev Ballet from 1921 to 1923, and then in Poland again, and then in the United States during WW II, then back to Poland. To judge from this he was a masterly exponent of the Franco-Russian school: it is all about glittering tone color, striking contrasts of tempo, and cleverly idiosyncratic phrasing. He is in the same league as Yevgeny Mravinsky and Albert Coates: imagine them performing with the Philharmonia Orchestra in a Walter Legge production and you will have a sense of what the wall of sound is like here.
The Szymanowski gets top billing, which is appropriate since the composer was a friend and associate of the conductor. It is indeed wonderful, suffused with Scriabin-like ecstatic mysticism. But the Tchaikovsky ‘Polish’ Symphony is what really took my breath away. In Fitelberg’s hands it comes across more like a ballet than a symphony, an orgy of color and melody with very little shape but a whole lot of drama. He imparts—I don’t know how to describe it—an ostinato-like quality to the melodies that I’ve not heard elsewhere. The second movement is utterly bewitching. The Dutton production does Fitelberg full justice; the 1946 sound is radiant.”
- David Radcliffe, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2012