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Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt

Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt Edition - Volume 2 (14CD Box Set)

Supplementary to his legendary Beethoven cycles for Decca are Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt’s recordings for Philips, Mercury, Deutsche Grammophon and Accord. They date from 1944 (Sutermeister) to 1972, when he made his last recording, fittingly by Mozart (Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe) a composer whom he revered above all: “We are too intimate friends … I can’t even explain what it is I feel when I listen to his music, that makes my eyes damp and my breath catch. … At the end of my life I should like to dissolve myself completely in Mozart’s music.”

Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt became a household name for many record collectors in the 1970s thanks to the cycle of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic (newly reissued in a companion box-set by Eloquence: 4843981). Though he had made recordings and held several significant posts in pre-war Germany, such as directorship of opera houses in Berlin and Hamburg, his career took on a new lease of life after 1945 as the founder-conductor of the Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra, now known as the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. Their account of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is dynamic and superbly prepared. The complete Hungarian Dances of Brahms is another delightful NDR/Schmidt-Isserstedt rarity revived in the set. The celebrated Vienna Philharmonic cycle of Beethoven piano concertos with Wilhelm Backhaus demonstrated what a sympathetic accompanist Schmidt-Isserstedt was. In this set he lends equally attentive support to Monique Haas in Ravel, Alfred Brendel in Brahms (the pianist’s first recording of the First Piano Concerto), Wolfgang Schneiderhan in Mozart and Henryk Szeryng in Beethoven. After his international profile rose with the growing reputation of the NDR orchestra, he became a welcome guest on the podiums of Europe’s great orchestras. From 1955–64 he was chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and in 1962 recorded with them the First and Third symphonies of Berwald. He gave many first performances of new works, especially by English and German composers; Die Schöpfung by Wolfgang Fortner is a vivid seventeen-minute setting of a poem by the American poet James Weldon Johnson, a contemporary reimagining of Creation, for which Schmidt-Isserstedt and the NDR orchestra accompanied Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The conductor’s first love was Mozart, and it is fitting that his last major recording project before his death from a heart attack in 1973 was another first on record, the German version (Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe) of Mozart’s early opera La finta giardiniera, for which Philips assembled an all-star cast including Jessye Norman, Hermann Prey and Tatiana Troyanos. This was greeted after his death as the perfect memorial to his unassuming art; unlike many maestros of his generation and background, he got what he wanted not through fear but respect and a spirit of collective endeavour. Included, too, in this set are early (1940s) recordings made by the conductor of music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Sutermeister. This Eloquence set is issued with original covers and a new essay by Peter Quantrill on Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and his career.

PHILIPS RECORDINGS CD 1 BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto; Violin Romance No. 2 Henryk Szeryng London Symphony Orchestra CD 2 BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 Alfred Brendel Concertgebouworkest CD 3–5 MOZART: Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe Ileana Cotrubas; Helen Donath; Jessye Norman; Tatiana Troyanos; Werner Hollweg; Gerhard Unger; Hermann Prey NDR-Sinfonieorchester MERCURY RECORDINGS CD 6 MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 39 & 41 London Symphony Orchestra
 CD 7 SCHUBERT: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 4 London Symphony Orchestra Walter Süsskind (No. 4) ACCORD RECORDINGS CD 8 BRAHMS: 21 Hungarian Dances NDR-Sinfonieorchester
 CD 9 RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade NDR-Sinfonieorchester CD 10 BERWALD: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON RECORDINGS CD 11 MOZART: Violin Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 Wolfgang Schneiderhan Berliner Philharmoniker (No. 4) NDR-Sinfonieorchester (No. 5)
 CD 12 FORTNER: The Creation Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
 FORTNER: Mouvements Carl Seeman RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G major Monique Haas NDR-Sinfonieorchester CD 13 *VERDI: La traviata (highlights) Maria Stader; Ernst Haefliger; Lawrence Winters NDR-Sinfonieorchester
 CD 14 DVOŘÁK Serenade for Strings; Serenade for Winds NDR-Sinfonieorchester
 CD 15 HISTORICAL RECORDINGS MOZART Symphony No. 38 ‘Prague’* MOZART Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro – arias° Lore Hoffmann
 TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade for Strings* NDR-Sinfonieorchester
 SUTERMEISTER Romeo und Julia (excerpts)* Christel Goltz; Julius Katona Orchester des Deutschen Opernhauses, Berlin