Legendary BPO Concertmasters ∙ Hugo Kolberg ∙ Michel Schwalbé ∙ 2CD


Both Hugo Kolberg (1898-1979) and Michel Schwalbé (1919-2012) were concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic. Kolberg is the less well-known. He replaced Szymon Goldberg in Furtwängler’s Berlin Philharmonic in December 1934 when Goldberg was forced to leave Germany. Schwalbé led the Berliner Philharmoniker from the first desk from 1957 to 1985 and helped to shape an era under Karajan. Both never recorded the works presented on this discs commercially.

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CD 1

SPOHR: Violin Concerto No 9 in D Minor, Op 55
Hugo Kolberg ∙ violin
Sinfonieorchester des Süddeutschen Rundfunks
Carl Schuricht ∙ conductor

Recorded · 11 April 1958 · Stuttgart · Villa Berg · Süddeutscher Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

SUK: Un poco triste, Op 17, No 3
SUK: Burleska, Op 17, No 4
KREISLER: Recitativo und Scherzo-Caprice, Op 6
SAINT-SAËNS: Havanaise in E Major, Op 83
BLOCH: Nigun No. 2 from Baal Shem

Hugo Kolberg ∙ violin
Hubert Giesen ∙ piano

Recorded · 06 December 1956 · Stuttgart-Untertürkheim · Süddeutscher Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

SAINT-SAËNS: Violin Concerto No 3 in B Minor, Op 61
Michel Schwalbé ∙ violin
Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt ∙ conductor

Recorded · 20 October 1965 · Hannover · Großer Sendesaal · Norddeutscher Rundfunk · Live Recording

CD 2

GLAZUNOV: Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op 82
Michel Schwalbé ∙ violin
WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
Mario Rossi ∙ conductor

Recorded · 19 February 1962 · Köln · Großer Sendesaal · Westdeutscher Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

LALO: Symphonie espagnole, Op 21
Michel Schwalbé ∙ violin
Sinfonieorchester des Saarländischen Rundfunks
Rudolf Michl ∙ conductor

Recorded · 23 May 1964 · Saarbrücken · Funkhaus Halberg · Saarländischer Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

PUGNANI: Largo espressivo
DEBUSSY/HARTMANN: La fille aux cheveux de lin
WIENIAWSKI: Légende, Op 17

Michel Schwalbé ∙ violin
Kurt Herrlinger ∙ piano

Recorded · 11 October 1952 · Köln · Studio · Westdeutscher Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

DEBUSSY: Violin Sonata in G Minor, L 148
Michel Schwalbé ∙ violin
Walter Kamper ∙ piano

Recorded · 10 December 1959 · Berlin · Kleiner Sendesaal · Sender Freies Berlin · Radio Studio Recording

Article number: MC 2039
UPC barcode: 791154054567
Release date: 16 July 2019
Booklet: 8 Pages
Total timing: 78:01 CD1 ∙  73:05 CD2
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2019 Meloclassic

November 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Hugo Kolberg / Michel Schwalbé ∙ Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic
Two concertmaster-soloists, four concertos, one sonata and a raft of smaller pieces; that’s the premise of this twofer from Meloclassic. Both Hugo Kolberg (1898-1979) and Michel Schwalbé (1919-2012) were concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic and both had been born in, or very near, Warsaw. Kolberg is the less well-known, a student of Henri Marteau in Berlin who took private lessons from Huberman and gained valuable orchestral experience throughout the 1920s. He essays one concerto, Spohr’s Ninth in D minor, taped with Carl Schuricht a few months before resuming his old position in Berlin. It’s not the usual Spohr choice, though it’s a work Erica Morini, for one, had in her armoury. Kolberg proves a solid, stylish and purposeful exponent, lyric and elegant in the slow movement and technically accomplished in the finale’s droll character study. Schwalbé (born Szwalbe) did record an Electrola LP with Karl Engel in the early 1950s but otherwise his legacy is limited to orchestral solos, arrangements and chamber music. The Saint-Saëns B minor concerto performance with Schmidt-Isserstedt reflects strong Gallic affiliations in his training. The Glazunov Concerto (Cologne, with Mario Rossi in 1962) is certainly rather more perfumed than Milstein or Heifetz, notwithstanding their sovereign authority in this work. There’s plenty of room for expressive intonation and for effusive phrasing in this fine, purposeful reading. Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, with Rudolf Michl, comes from 1964. They omitted the Intermezzo. It shares qualities with the Saint-Saëns; phrasal generosity but without an indulged Andante. The small pieces include a lovely Pugnani performance, a charmingly coaxed but erotically chaste Girl with the Flaxen Hair (contrast Thibaud), and a subtle Wieniawski Légende. The final item is the Debussy Sonata, significantly more idiomatic, inflected and ardent than Erick Friedman’s 1968 reading on another recent Meloclassic release. These fine sounding restorations are housed in a gatefold album with valuable notes. One of the photographs shows both men in the concertmaster positions of the Berlin Philharmonic watching on inscrutably as Karajan takes a grinning bow.
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August 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Hugo Kolberg / Michel Schwalbé ∙ Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic
This fascinating 2-disc set spotlights two former concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic, who can be heard in their solo ventures into concerto, sonata and short piece performances. Another thing they share in common is that they both originate from Warsaw, Hugo Kolberg being born there in 1898 and and Michel Schwalbé in 1919. Schwalbé is certainly the better known of the two. Strangely, Louis Spohr’s Violin Concerto No.9 has never had the popularity of its predecessor, No.8. This 1958 performance with Carl Schuricht and the Sinfonie-Orchester des Süddeutschen Rundfunks is, for me at least, the highlight of the set. The short pieces with piano were taped in a single session in 1956, and here Kolberg is partnered by Hubert Giesen. The exception is Kreisler’s Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice for solo violin, performed with brilliance of attack and pristine intonation. Saint-Saëns’ gift for melody flows generously in the Havanaise. Kolberg renders it with élan and technical polish, making light of the hair-raising difficulties encountered along the way. Bloch’s Nigun has potent intensity and is dramatically nuanced. Michel Schwalbé’s impressive technique combined the qualities of both the Russian and the Franco-Belgian schools. What did strike me is that he’s munificent with his portamentos, which are very much in the style of Heifetz. He also commands a more varied tonal palette than Kolberg. The well-projected account of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No.3 in B minor, Op.61 benefits from the unerring, sympathetic support of Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. In Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole Schwalbé, like so many before him, omits the intermezzo. In the 1959 broadcast of the Debussy Sonata, the violinist is paired with pianist Walter Kamper, in what was the composer’s last major work. The performance captures the music’s steadily-shifting moods, vibrant rhythms and changing colours. Of the short pieces, there’s a captivating account of Wieniawski’s Légende Op.17. The Pugnani Largo espressivo is a relative rarity that was recorded by Enescu. Comparing the two side by side Enescu wins hands down for his more ardent and glowing account. This fulsomely annotated release, in superb transfers will appeal enormously to violin mavens the world over.
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May 2020 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Jean-Michel Molkhou ∙ Hugo Kolberg / Michel Schwalbé ∙ Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic
Un double album rend un généreux hommage à deux légendaires violons solos de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Berlin, prouvant qu’ils menaient parallèlement une activité de concertiste. Hugo Kolberg (1898-1979) occupa le prestigieux pupitre sous la baguette de Furtwängler de 1934 å 1939 (il remplaçait Szymon Goldberg chassé par les nazis), puis sous celle de Karajan de 1958 à 1963. A Stuttgart en 1958, accompagné par Schuricht, il affronte le très périlleux Concerto no 9 de Spohr avec un panache teinté de pathétiques glissades héritées des traditions du XIXe. Suit un récital de virtuosité (1956, Hubert Giesen est au piano), mélant des pages de Suk, Kreisler, Saint-Saens et Bloch. Michel Schwalbé (1919-2012), l’illustre Konzertmeister franqais de Karajan de 1957 à 1985, est célébré par trois concertos captés entre 1962 et 1965. Fort d’un jeu beaucoup plus moderne et d’une technique flamboyante, cet élève de Boucherit enlève le 3e de Saint-Saëns avec une maestria digne des plus grands archets (superbe direction de Schmidt-Isserstedt à Hanovre). Dans Glazounov (à Cologne avec Ross) comme dans la Symphonie espagnole de Lalo (à Sarrebruck avec Michl), amputée de son Intermezzo comme souvent à l’époque, il séduit par l’ardeur d’un jeu racé et inspiré. Une lecture sensuelle de la sonate de Debussy aux cötés de Walter Kamper (1959), et trois pièces enregistrées en 1952 complètent le portrait d’un artiste d’exception.
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