Rafael Kubelík - Lucerne Festival Historic Perfor
Format: COMPACT DISC
Kubelík, Rafael; New Philharmonia Orchestra; Ogdon, John
In the summer of 1968, a few days after the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring, the exiled Czech Rafael Kubelík conducted a gripping concert in his adopted home of Lucerne: a vital Haydn symphony and a passionately glowing Fourth by Tchaikovsky framed Schoenberg's Piano Concerto. Kubelík takes up the cause of the Tchaikovsky symphony as if it were a declaration of the victory of the spirit, of freedom over all the forces of fate, was the verdict of a critic at the time on the closing concert of the Lucerne Summer Festival in 1968. The historical parallels to the current situation with the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine are unmistakable: A few days before Rafael Kubelík's performance, the socialist reform movement in Prague had been brutally crushed by the tanks of the Warsaw Pact. Kubelík, a Czech in exile who had chosen to live in Lucerne, not only pleaded for a break in artistic relations - a call that musicians such as Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin and Igor Stravinsky joined. He had also asked the Lucerne concert-goers for support for his "Foundation for Czechoslovak Emigrants after August 21, 1968". Kubelík's dramatically sharpened reading of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony captivates the audience with strikingly abrupt changes in tempo and tone, and heightens the orchestral virtuosity in the finale to a furor. He had opened the guest performance of the New Philharmonia Orchestra, as the Philharmonia Orchestra temporarily called itself after a secession and refoundation, with Haydn's Symphony in E-flat Major Hob. I:99. Another highlight: Schoenberg's Piano Concerto with John Ogdon as soloist, who never recorded this work. With an unerring sense of the abruptly shifting characters of this music and its ongoing variational processes, Ogdon and Kubelík succeeded in producing a textually accurate, gripping interpretation. All three live recordings are first releases.