This is a valuable multiple-CD set, the first of a projected series of six each of which will contain "selected recordings" of the Concertgebouw Orchestra from Dutch radio archives. This set covers 1935-1950; the final five sets will each cover a decade beginning with 1950. No release date has been announced for these. Repertory is selected by Daniël Esser, a member of the Orchestra, and Lodewijk Collette, Producer for Radio Netherlands Music. Their choices generally are admirable although one wonders why the decision was made to include a number of performances already available from other sources, and two that are commercial recordings (Karajan's Don Juan, Kleiber's Beethoven Fifth).
This first album is an important document with famous guest conductors and soloists, along with performances by names long associated with the Orchestra, Willem Mengelberg and Eduard van Beinum each already represented in Radio Nederland- produced multiple-CD sets (as is Bernard Haitink who doubtless will figure prominently in later albums in this series. Most of the recordings are from live concerts although a few are "studio recordings" made in Hilversum and other locations.
Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
CD 4 is devoted to the memorable performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde given Oct. 4, 1939. It's pointed out that the first complete Concertgebouw performance took place Oct. 2, 1913 with Mengelberg on the podium. The music had been scheduled for the previous April 24 as part of a concert celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Orchestra, but the tenor didn't show up (!) so only three movements were performed. Mengelberg was to conduct the Oct. 4, 1939 performance but was indisposed so Carl Schuricht was chosen. As he worked in Wiesbaden, Germany, he had been obliged, before accepting the invitation to conduct a work by a Jewish composer, to ask permission from Berlin authorities.
Reviews were mixed, but details are given of the "ominous" incident that occurred in the final movement.
"A few bars before "Er stieg vom Pferd" a lady rose from the front rows, passed before the stage and, close to the conductor, cried: "Deutschland über alles, Herr Schuricht!"....to the dismay of many radio listeners, noted De Telegraff, as well as members of the audience. The lady in question then left the concert hall.
The newspapers leave us in the dark as to her motive. Soon after the German invasion on May 10, 1940, Amsterdam's flourishing Mahler tradition came to a temporary halt." This dramatic performance has been issued several times before on CD.