Early Recordings 1953-­1968
Edvard Grieg / Franz Schubert / Gustav Mahler / Olivier Messiaen / Albert Roussel / Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky / Vladimir Sommer / Pavel Borkovec

Early Recordings 1953-­1968

Václav Neumann

SU 4133 - 0099925413323

Information GreatBrittain Germany

Supraphon is releasing a unique set comprising previously unknown recordings Václav Neumann made in the 1950s and 1960s, sensitively remastered (SU 4133-2). Václav Neumann (1920–1995), a distinguished Czech conductor and unforgettably charismatic music director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, made the highest number of discs of any artist, irrespective of profession, for Supraphon. They above all include complete sets and individual recordings of major works, with many of them having received the world’s most prestigious awards, as well as minor, generally popular pieces. The present 6CD album comprises a large selection of the early recordings Václav Neumann made before he assumed the post of principal conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, with most
of them possessing a great historical value. And a number of the featured recordings are appearing on CD for the very first time. Unlike many other famed conductors, by the time he became head of the Czech Philharmonic, Neumann was already an established, seasoned artist of international renown.

He definitely decided to pursue a conducting path in 1947, after leaving the Smetana Quartet. A watershed in his career came in March 1948, when he had to stand in for Rafael Kubelík, who had suddenly fallen ill. In the same year, Kubelík emigrated and Neumann took over the majority of his scheduled concerts, conducting performances in Prague and other cities in Czechoslovakia. He led the Czech Philharmonic during its tour of East Germany and in 1949 conducted Smetana’s My Country at the opening concert of the Prague Spring music festival. Nevertheless, at the time he lacked sufficient experience to head as renowned an orchestra as the Czech Philharmonic and hence after a year left his post of chief conductor. From 1951 to 1954, Neumann served as music director of the Plzeň Radio Orchestra (today’s Plzeň Philharmonic), in 1954 he became conductor of the Brno Region Symphony Orchestra, which two years later he merged with the Brno Radio Symphony Orchestra, thus giving rise to the Brno State Philharmonic. Subsequently, he joined the Prague Symphony Orchestra, with whom he made his debut at the Komische Oper in Berlin. In 1957, he was appointed its chief conductor.

At the beginning of the 1950s, Neumann made his first recording for Supraphon, featuring Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s suite The Seasons (published with the French title Les Saisons), with the Film Symphony Orchestra. Even at the time, the disc was deemed a rarity: the instrumentation of the original set of 12 character pieces for solo piano was assigned to Václav Trojan. Neumann himself referred to the recording, still very interesting and sonically colourful, as a “sin of my youth”.

Great attention – both at home and abroad – was drawn by his complete studio recording of Leoš Janáček’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen, which alongside the members of the Opera company of the National Theatre in Prague features some of the artists who performed in the work’s remarkable production at Berlin’s Komische Oper directed by Walter Felseinstein. In 1959, it was the first-ever Supraphon disc to be awarded the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros (it was re-released on CD under the catalogue number SU3981-2).

Another noteworthy accomplishment was the very first Czech recording of Antonín Dvořák’s early symphonies. In the late 1950s, Supraphon’s aim was to produce the complete set, even though the individual discs were made with different conductors and orchestras. Symphonies Nos. 1 to 4 were undertaken by the Prague Symphony Orchestra (the First and Second were in mono). Neumann recorded Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 and 4. A few years later, Neumann also confirmed his passion for Romanticism by making the first Czech recording of Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, presented on an album together with Symphony No. 3. At the time, he was already serving as conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, which he had joined in 1963 after leaving the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The 1960s were a pivotal decade in Václav Neumann’s career, with his assuming the post of the Czech Philharmonic’s music director being its natural culmination. He was assigned various significant artistic tasks at home and abroad alike. Within the 1964 Prague Spring festival, he and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra gave an engrossing performance at Saint Vitus Cathedral of Arthur Honegger’s oratorio Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake), which 10 years later he repeated with the Czech Philharmonic. In 1964, Neumann was named music director of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, one of
Germany’s best and oldest, with which he made a number of remarkable and still referred to recordings for the Eterna label (Mahler’s symphonies, My Country). Significant recordings were made at the Rudolfinum in Prague. The 1960s saw the beginning of Neumann’s
recording of works by Gustav Mahler, which culminated in the completion of recording all the composer’s symphonies two decades later.

Václav Neumann’s domain was Romantic music, yet he was also a champion of modern Czech, as well as international, creation. He made one of the most captivating recordings presenting Musica nova, featuring Pavel Bořkovec’s Silentium turbatum (Disturbed Silence), a one-movement orchestral piece with an alto solo and electric guitar to meditative texts penned by Hana Prošková, the composer’s daughter, written in 1964-65 to commission for the Prague Spring festival. Yet perhaps the greatest event was Neumann’s premiere of Vladimír Sommer’s Vocal Symphony, completed back in 1959. Owing to the content of the set texts (the second
movement, Dream, for instance, depicts Dostoyevsky’s brutal story of a violent Russian peasant) and the subsequent criticism on the part of the Communist authorities, but also the composer’s well-known perfectionism, the first performance was delayed several times, with the 1963 premiere by the Prague Symphony Orchestra being eagerly and apprehensively expected. The piece was soon recorded by the Czech Philharmonic and some of the artists who had premiered it. Noteworthy too are the recordings of international
modern music, featured on the present album’s fourth disc.

Dvořák’s Nocturne for strings, which rounds off this album, is not a supplement but a symbol of major significance. Neumann recorded this and other Dvořák works at the beginning of September 1968, a few weeks after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact forces. In protest against the aggression, he resigned from the post of music director of the Gewandhausorchester. In December of the same year he became chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, which marked the start of his great artistic era.
 

Tracklisting
  • 1
    Symphony No. 1 in C minor, ‘The Bells of Zlonice’, sine op. (B 9)
    I. [Allegro]
    11:26
  • 2
    Symphony No. 1 in C minor, ‘The Bells of Zlonice’, sine op. (B 9)
    II. Adagio di molto
    12:50
  • 3
    Symphony No. 1 in C minor, ‘The Bells of Zlonice’, sine op. (B 9)
    III. Allegretto
    08:27
  • 4
    Symphony No. 1 in C minor, ‘The Bells of Zlonice’, sine op. (B 9)
    IV. Finale. Allegro animato
    10:08
  • 5
    Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13 (B 41)
    I. Allegro
    10:10
  • 6
    Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13 (B 41)
    II. Andante sostenuto e molto cantabile
    12:22
  • 7
    Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13 (B 41)
    III. Allegro feroce
    07:07
  • 8
    Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13 (B 41)
    IV. Allegro con brio
    10:10
  • 1
    Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4 (B 12)
    I. Allegro con moto
    12:22
  • 2
    Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4 (B 12)
    II. Poco adagio
    11:58
  • 3
    Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4 (B 12)
    III. Scherzo. Allegro con brio
    12:22
  • 4
    Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4 (B 12)
    IV. Finale. Allegro con fuoco
    10:49
  • 5
    Rondo in G minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 94 (B 181)
    07:43
  • 6
    Lyric suite, Op. 54
    Gjætergut / Shepherd Boy
    04:22
  • 7
    Lyric suite, Op. 54
    Gangar / Norwegian March
    03:11
  • 8
    Lyric suite, Op. 54
    Notturno / Nokturno
    03:51
  • 9
    Lyric suite, Op. 54
    Troldtog / March of the Dwarfs
    03:25
  • 1
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    I. January – At the Fireside
    05:50
  • 2
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    II. February – Carnival
    03:07
  • 3
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    III. March – Song of the Lark
    02:00
  • 4
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    IV. April – Snowdrop
    03:24
  • 5
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    V. May – Starlit Nights
    04:29
  • 6
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    VI. June – Barcarolle
    05:42
  • 7
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    VII. July – Song of the Reaper
    02:02
  • 8
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    VIII. August – Harvest
    04:05
  • 9
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    IX. September – Hunting
    02:56
  • 10
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    X. October – Autumn Song
    04:45
  • 11
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    XI. November – Troika
    03:04
  • 12
    The Seasons. Twelve Charakteristic Pieces, Op. 37
    XII. December – Christmas
    04:09
  • 13
    Suite No. 1, Op. 46
    I. Morning Mood
    03:19
  • 14
    Suite No. 1, Op. 46
    II. The Death of Åse
    04:34
  • 15
    Suite No. 1, Op. 46
    III. Anitra´s Dance
    03:33
  • 16
    Suite No. 1, Op. 46
    IV. In the Hall of the Mountain King
    02:46
  • 17
    Suite No. 2, Op. 55
    I. The Abduction of the Bride. Ingrid's Lament
    03:54
  • 18
    Suite No. 2, Op. 55
    II. Arabian Dance
    04:05
  • 19
    Suite No. 2, Op. 55
    III. Peer Gynt´s Homecoming (Stormy Evening on the Sea)
    02:37
  • 20
    Suite No. 2, Op. 55
    IV. Solveig´s Song
    04:40
  • 1
    Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 42
    I. Allegro vivo
    05:43
  • 2
    Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 42
    II. Adagio
    09:27
  • 3
    Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 42
    III. Vivace
    03:03
  • 4
    Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 42
    IV. Allegro con spirito
    06:03
  • 5
    5/ Bacchus et Ariane. Ballet Suite No. 2, Op. 43
    19:42
  • 6
    Oiseaux exotiques / Exotic Birds for Piano and Orchestra
    15:19
  • 7
    Réveil des oiseaux / Awakening of the Birds for Piano and Orchestra
    21:09
  • 1
    Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200
    I. Adagio maestoso – Allegro con brio
    09:47
  • 2
    Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200
    II. Allegretto
    04:22
  • 3
    Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200
    III. Menuetto. Vivace
    04:08
  • 4
    Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200
    IV. Presto vivace
    04:59
  • 5
    Symphony No. 8 in B minor ‘Unfinished’ D 759
    I. Allegro moderato
    11:43
  • 6
    Symphony No. 8 in B minor ‘Unfinished’ D 759
    II. Andante con moto
    12:07
  • 7
    Vocal Symphony for Mezzo-­?soprano, Speaker, Chorus and Large Orchestra
    I. At Night; Con moto – Adagio – Più lento – Adagio
    11:32
  • 8
    Vocal Symphony for Mezzo-­?soprano, Speaker, Chorus and Large Orchestra
    I. A Dream; Allegro moderato – Vivo – Con furore – Sostenuto
    11:51
  • 9
    Vocal Symphony for Mezzo-­?soprano, Speaker, Chorus and Large Orchestra
    III. Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes; Adagio
    08:16
  • 1
    Kindertotenlieder
    I. Nun will die Sonn´ so hell aufgehn!
    06:30
  • 2
    Kindertotenlieder
    II. Nun seh´ ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen
    05:22
  • 3
    Kindertotenlieder
    III. Wenn dein Mütterlein
    05:25
  • 4
    Kindertotenlieder
    IV. Oft denk´ ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen
    03:18
  • 5
    Kindertotenlieder
    V. In diesem Wetter
    06:21
  • 6
    Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
    Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
    03:32
  • 7
    Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
    II. Ging heut morgen übers Feld
    04:04
  • 8
    Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
    III. Ich hab´ ein glühend Messer
    03:16
  • 9
    Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
    IV. Die zwei blauen Augen
    04:33
  • 10
    10/ Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen
    05:35
  • 11
    Silentium turbatum
    17:31
  • 12
    Nocturne for String Orchestra in B major, Op. 40 (B 47)
    08:49