23 JULY 1927, Page 11

Gramophone Notes



This company has issued a very fine performance of the Rienzi Overture, played by the Berlin State Opera Orchestra and conducted by Edward Moerike. There are some quite remarkable features in the reproduction, notably the bass- --string tone at the outset, the violin embellishments later on the same side, and the clean brass-tone on the reverse side. We rarely hear brass playing of this high order outside the Band Festivals at the Crystal Palace.


The same orchestra, conducted this time by Max von Schillings, has recorded a performance of the Fire-Spell Music from The Valkyries which is better than any I have heard through the medium of the gramophone. The building- up of each climax reveals that the conductor knows the value of implied power. At no moment does he suggest that he has expended his full force, with the result that the music is gathering momentum from first to last ; at the very end, instead of the blur which we are accustomed to hear, each 'Angle detail is clearly audible without the slightest feeling of conscious emphasis. This is an outstanding record.


Here we meet the same orchestra once again, directed by Leo Blech for a performance of the Mignon Overture. The only defect in this double-sided record is the hardness of the string tone in fortissimo passages ; but there are other com- pensations.. The beginning of this overture is a good test of the reproducing powers of the various orchestral families. We hear in turn wood-wind, brass, strings, harp, clarinet and, finally, a horn solo, and in each case the gramophone process has been nimble enough to catch the essential quality.


The Leonora No. 3 Overture has been recorded for this company by Sir Henry Wood and the New Queen's Hall Orchestra. This is the work in which Beethoven's critics professed to find a great development in his powers, comparing it with the first of the Leonora Overtures, which actually was written several months after ! Were not the critics similarly deceived over Mr. Bernard Shaw's early novels ? He is a rash man who would account for the development of any artist who still is alive: The reproduction of this good straightforward performance is especially notable for smoothness of texture. During Part 4, however, the rapid-speaking of the flute has eluded the mechanism, and at the very end the drums sound a note which is a full semitone out. This, I am convinced, is due to no fault in the tuning, but to some acoustical caprice in the Scala Theatre where the records were made.


The Procession Music from the third Act of The Master- singers is admirably played by the Festival Symphony Orchestra under Mr. Adrian Boult's direction. Mr. Boult avoids blatancy and exuberance, and gives us a perform:ince which, without being inflexible, is always dignified.