C1319. ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. NYPO: Toccata & Fugue in d (Bach, arr.Wood); Symphony #1 in C (Beethoven); w.RUDOLF SERKIN: Piano Concerto #27 in B-flat, K.595 (Mozart); Piano Concerto #4 in G (Beethoven), Live Performance, 23 Feb., 1936 [Rudolf Serkin's formal American début]; ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. NYPO: Lohengrin – Act III Prelude; Der Freischütz – Overture (von Weber); Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Debussy); Danse Macabre (Saint-Saëns); Rustic Wedding Symphony – Mvt. III (Goldmark); w.DUSOLINA GIANNINI: Aïda – Ritorna, vincitor! (Verdi), Live Performance, 1 March, 1936, with broadcast commentary by Milton Cross. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1002. Restoration, re-creation & transfers by Richard Caniell. - 625989626623
“This Canadian historical series generally lives up to its name and is notable for the care and imagination with which its releases are prepared and presented. More Toscanini comes on [this] set that includes two complete concerts from 1936 in the first of which Rudolf Serkin appears as the soloist, making his American début. The orchestra is the New York Philharmonic-Symphony….The listening experience here is clearly preferable to that of some earlier pirate issues, thanks to the discovery of some hitherto unknown 16-inch discs of the concerts, recorded by a very competent amateur. Thus on this precious set, we now have two complete concerts from February 23rd and March 1st, 1936.
The first of them begins with a thrilling account of Beethoven's First Symphony, notable for its irrepressible vigour and vibrancy. This is followed by the two concerti: Beethoven's Fourth and Mozart's last, K595. That Serkin and Toscanini worked extremely well together is already apparent from their later recording of the Beethoven Fourth, but this live account is a joy . . . Serkin's effortless authority at the piano is mirrored by Toscanini at his most attentive - it's very moving to listen to these two great artists live and on such superb form. The Mozart is perhaps even more interesting. Serkin was a great Mozartian, as was Toscanini (though he made too few recordings of Mozart). Their performance of K595 is therefore very valuable, and it's superbly stylish: rather 'modern' in feel, with bright, forward woodwind and strongly propulsive rhythms. This concert ended with Toscanini conducting Henry Wood's orchestration of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor.
The second concert, from a week later, is a mixed programme, opening with the Overture to DER FREISCHÜTZ by Weber (notable for some lovely, atmospheric playing in the slow introduction). 'Ritorna vincitor' from Verdi's AÏDA sung by Dusolina Giannini, and a group of popular orchestral works: ‘Danse macabre’ by Saint-Saëns, a movement from the ‘Rustic Wedding’ Symphony by Goldmark, the 'Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune' by Debussy, and the Prelude to Act 3 of Wagner's LOHENGRIN.
This set will be of great interest to Toscanini collectors, despite the unavoidable technical shortcomings.”
- Nigel Simone, INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, Jan., 2010
“Toscanini presents Beethoven’s First symphony in a tension-filled, lively fashion – its impact optimized by a substantial gap in the second movement being filled by another Toscanini recording. Also in the two piano concerti brilliantly played by Serkin, recording gaps were filled. Without a doubt, Serkin was one of the truly great – his interpretations are full of charm and spirit, depth and self-understood virtuosity. Serkin’s and Toscanini’s Mozart sparkles with warmth and sunshine, refinement, poetry and nobility. The concluding Bach arrangement is quite different from that of Leopold Stokowski’s (which did not yet exist [at that time]) –rougher, more expressive – presented by Toscanini and the orchestra with breathtaking intensity, in a late romantic-expressionistic style. The immediacy of the sound, the all around sound spectrum and the lively atmosphere prove once more that Richard Caniell is a master of his profession – his audio restoration is exemplary . . . one thing is clear . . . we are dealing with a historically significant event.”
- Dr. Jürgen Schaarwächter, Klassik.com, 9 Jan., 2010
“Rudolf Serkin joined the international elite while still a teen-ager and by incessant, tireless practice held ranking for more than half a century as an artist of the highest type. He was an eminent 20th-century representative of a Viennese tradition that mingled the classical and romantic styles of pianism.
Among the dozens of recordings he made, those in which he teamed as a chamber-music partner with Adolf Busch, the German violinist, are especially prized by collectors. It was Mr. Busch who promoted the young pianist's European career, presenting him as a soloist in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #5 at Mr. Serkin's Berlin début in 1921. Mr. Serkin regarded Busch as one of the three musicians who most deeply influenced him. The others were his onetime composition teacher, Arnold Schönberg, and the conductor Arturo Toscanini. Mr. Serkin studied composition, first with Joseph Marx and later with Schönberg, and published a string quartet. He made his concert début with the Vienna Symphony at 12, playing the Mendelssohn g minor Concerto. At 17, Mr. Serkin met Busch, who was looking for a pianist to accompany him in a concert. They struck up a friendship and Busch took the younger musician along with him to Berlin on tour. Busch was then 30 years old and internationally established as a violinist. Soon Mr. Serkin was appearing in the great cities of Europe both as accompanist and as chamber-music performer with the Busch Chamber Players.
In April 1933, with the Nazis in the ascendancy in Germany, Busch stirred a controversy by refusing to appear at a Brahms centennial celebration in Hamburg. Although not Jewish himself, he was offended because a young Jewish pianist had been denied permission to play. The pianist was Rudolf Serkin.
Mr. Serkin had moved with the Busch family to Darmstadt in 1922. In 1927 they all left Germany and settled near Basel, Switzerland. After Hitler's rise to power, they applied for Swiss citizenship, which they held until all became American citizens in 1950.
Mr. Serkin first played in the United States in 1933 with Busch at a Coolidge Festival concert in the Library of Congress in Washington. He did not perform here again until his formal début in New York on 20 Feb., 1936, when he appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Toscanini. His recital début came on 11 Jan., 1937, at Carnegie Hall. The next year Mr. Serkin and Busch performed the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas at Town Hall. In 1939, Mr. Serkin joined the piano faculty of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he taught for 36 years. From 1968 to 1975, he was director of the institute.
Great though Mr. Serkin's success was as a concert pianist, perhaps his most lasting impact on musical life was as a teacher and inspirational force. In 1949, he helped found the Marlboro Festival in Vermont. Living in the same area at the time were Adolf and Herman Busch, Blanche Honegger Moyse, Louis Moyse and Marcel Moyse, all renowned musicians who had also left Europe. They merged their talents and quickly turned Marlboro into an American chamber-music mecca and a magnet for talent. The word ‘Marlboro’ came to stand for musicianship of a special, ardent type. Each summer, Mr. Serkin and his circle were joined by like-minded artists, including Pablo Casals, Alexander Schneider, Felix Galimir, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Jaime and Ruth Laredo, Eugene Istomin, Pina Carmirelli and Peter Serkin (Mr. Serkin's son, himself a world-class pianist). At Marlboro, Mr. Serkin made a point of being a musician among colleagues, as ready to turn pages for other players as to perform. Friends of Mr. Serkin - and he seemed to have no enemies - spoke with incredulity of his unfailing good humor, his shy and sweet-tempered manner with everyone, the unknown as well as the famous. A longtime colleague, after giving the phenomenon some thought, remarked: 'It's impossible to talk about anybody's being saintly in this age, but Serkin is'."
- Donal Henahan, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 May, 1991
“The daughter of Italian parents, Dusolina Giannini was born in Philadelphia in 1902 into a thoroughly musical family. Not only were both her parents professional musicians, but her brother, Vittorio, became a successful composer, and a sister, Euphemia, was a member of the vocal faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music for many years. At the surprising age of twelve Dusolina sang Cieca in LA GIOCONDA, and then Azucena in IL TROVATORE, at her father’s theatre. Her unexpected début in Carnegie Hall took place in 1923, deputising for an ailing colleague, and two years later, after training with Marcella Sembrich, she made a formal operatic début in Hamburg as Aïda. In demand throughout Germany, Switzerland, in London, Vienna and the USA, Giannini added such rôles as Leonora (LA FORZA DEL DESTINO), Santuzza and Butterfly, and sang Alice Ford and Donna Anna in Salzburg; a strenuous touring schedule took her coast-to-coast in the United States and to Australia and New Zealand. Her appearances with the Metropolitan company were few - twenty, spread over six seasons from 1936 - but she was the Tosca of the opening performance of New York City Opera in 1944, subsequently appearing there as Carmen and Santuzza. During those years she also sang in Chicago and San Francisco with popular, if sometimes controversial, success, one of her rôles being Kundry in PARSIFAL, conducted by Monteux . In 1949 she was guest artist at the Berlin Staatsoper and the next year sang Carmen in Vienna.
Blessed with a rich, dark timbre, whose metal adds a keen edge to many of her recordings, Giannini was sometimes afflicted by vocal unsteadiness that marred otherwise exciting interpretations, but she invariably displayed a fine dramatic temperament and her committed characterisations had real ‘face’ and personality. In retirement she became a voice teacher and died in Zürich in 1986. Giannini made her first records for Victor in 1924 and her last in 1934. During that period more than fifty sides were issued, including operatic arias, Lieder, Italian songs and ballads.”
- Ned Ludd