C1855. RAFAEL KUBELIK Cond. Bayerischen Rundfunks, w.Helen Donath, Brigitte Fassbaender, Horst Laubenthal & Hans Sotin: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Bruckner, Berlioz, Smetana, Janácek, Hartmann & Bartok. (Austria) 15-Orfeo C 981 115, Live Performances, 1963-85, w.detailed booklet. Final Sealed Copy! - 4011790981154
“From 1961 to 1979, Kubelík was Principal Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio in Munich. He had found there his new musical home. He led the BR Symphony Orchestra to new heights, developing a unique sound and performance culture in a perfect diversity of repertoire from Baroque music up to free tonal Expressionism and to Karl Amadeus Hartmann and Benjamin Britten. As a musician, his prime directive was lyrical phrasing as well as clear and conscious articulation of the harmonic tensions and the vitality of the rhythmical and metric flow. He always had all these elements in mind, seeking to balance them. And Kubelík loved the gorgeous, lush sound, but never at the price of diaphanousness. This Edition gives us a detailed overview about his legendary interpretations and is also a time document of his long time working period in the city of Munich.”
“I've often wondered what would happen if the world's major radio stations were unexpectedly to make their entire music archives available for commercial exploitation. Would the demand for studio recordings diminish significantly? The appeal of hearing music caught on the wing, rather than flattened by dreary session ‘takes’, really is taking root and the Munich-based Orfeo label continues to make good use of Bavarian Radio's sizeable tape library. The latest to appear on Orfeo are three discs devoted to performances conducted by Rafael Kubelik, centering on either music that he never recorded commercially or works that he did record but not with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, which he led from 1961 to 1979 and guest-conducted countless times thereafter.
In the case of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, taped in concert in 1985, the scherzo's merciless hammering is offset by an almost Dvorakian reading of the trio, where the winds chirrup around the string lines like newly liberated bird song. As with his recording of Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Kubelik's Bruckner Ninth Symphony suggests the shock of the new, especially in the tiered finale which gains in tension as it journeys towards that shattering climactic discord.
No recent performance in my experience has quite that capacity to scare or humble, though, by contrast, the Handel Concerto Grosso glances back at the stately Handelian manners of Wilhelm Furtwängler, Fritz Lehmann and Otto Klemperer....there will be those collectors who would rather hear this most widely loved of Czech maestros tackle the Czech repertory. Back in the Seventies, Kubelik taped a thrilling Janacek Sinfonietta for Deutsche Grammophon, again in Munich, and although Orfeo's 1981 broadcast recording is less brazen, the interpretation has gained in perspective, and at times become even more menacing. The finale seems darker than before whereas the companion performance of Dvorak's Sixth Symphony yields so much more poetry and fresh air than Kubelik's beautiful but relatively constrained recording with the Berlin Philharmonic. Again, it's a case of hearing a narrative unfold without interruption, scanning the whole as an entity rather than letting the temperature dip while this or that minor detail is cleaned up for commercial consumption. Even when you don't actually hear the tape joins, you invariably sense there has been a loss in concentration, something that virtually never happens in these remarkable live recordings. All sound more than respectable, with the digital Bruckner/Handel coupling being virtually state of the art.”
- Rob Cowan, THE INDEPENDENT, 2014
“A Czech by birth, Rafael Kubelik left his homeland after the Communist takeover in 1948 and lived in London for several years before settling in Switzerland. He became a Swiss citizen in 1973. He was the son of Jan Kubelik, one of the great violinists of the early 20th century.
Mr. Kubelik was a regular guest of the New York Philharmonic until heart disease and severe arthritis forced him to retire from conducting in 1985. His performances were considered highlights of the concert season by those who prized a warm, probing, grandly scaled style of music making that was quickly being eclipsed by a more streamlined, modern approach. He conducted a broad repertory, and championed many modern works during his nearly five decades on the podium. His performances of Czech works, like Smetana's patriotic MA VLAST and the Dvorák symphonies were especially authoritative, and his 1971 recording of the Smetana with the Boston Symphony Orchestra is considered by many to be the best version available.
But Mr. Kubelik avoided specialization, and near the end of his career, he devoted himself with increasing vigor to the Viennese classics. The accounts of the Mozart and Haydn symphonies that he recorded in the early 1980s, for example, defied the trend toward light-textured, chamber-scale readings. Using the full weight and coloristic resources of the modern symphony orchestra, he gave performances that have a freshness and energy that transcend interpretive fashion.
In 1971, he accepted an invitation from Goeran Gentele, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, to become the company's first music director. Gentele died before Mr. Kubelik's tenure began, with a performance of LES TROYENS in October 1973, and Mr. Kubelik faced criticism for spending too much time in Europe and for being a weak administrator. In February 1974, five months after his début as director, he submitted his resignation. He was succeeded by his deputy, James Levine.
After 1985, Mr. Kubelik conducted only once. Having declared when he left Prague in 1948 that he would not return until the situation changed, he went back in 1990 to conduct MA VLAST at the opening of the first Prague Spring Festival after Vaclav Havel's Velvet Revolution. Mr. Kubelik had conducted the work 45 years earlier to celebrate the liberation of Prague from Nazi occupation.”
Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Aug., 1996