|"Given the excellence of the present recordings, it is
rather surprising to read the account of John Culshaw, who produced them
in early October 1956. In his memoirs Puttinq the Record Straight
in Vienna I worked for the first time with Rafael Kubelík, an exceptionally charming man and a musician of great sensitivity, who -at that time anyway - had problems exerting proper authority over the Vienna Philharmonic. The sound in the control room was so diffuse that we thought that something was wrong with our microphones. But it turned out that the sound in the hall was the same: Kubelík was not holding the orchestra firmly together, and thus the sound was "swimming".
What may have contributed to this situation, if true, was the fact that stereo was still an experimental technique at that time and the orchestra were playing in the unfamiliar acoustic of the Sofiensaal, rather than their usual home, the Musikvereinssaal, where they had made their previous mono recordings with Kubelík, beginning with the sixteen Slavonic Dances in March 1954. While Kubelík may well have preferred an audience to an empty hall, his rapport with the Viennese players could not seriously be in doubt. They had appeared together that year at the 1956 Salzburg Festival when they premiered Martinů's Frescoes of Piero della Francesca a score dedicated to Kubelík and with notable success in London earlier in May, when they played Dvorŕk's D minor Symphony and Brahms's D minor Piano Concerto (with Solomon as soloist) in the same programme. Despite the preponderance of D minor, the critic of The Times was elated:
From the opening flourish to the last drum tap, the first concert given by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Festival Halt last night was a superb artistic achievement and a continuous source of delight. The programme, conducted by Rafael Kubelík, consisted of familiar works by Weber, Brahms and Dvorŕk, but they might well have been new discoveries from the zest with which they were played under such vital direction.
Positive criticism that surety refutes Culshaw's unfair observations! And it is in this spirit that we should cherish the thrilling interpretations on this CD. They provide permanent proof of a legendary artist from the golden age of orchestral music making."
de Rafael Kubelík
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