While neither Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Fourth Symphony nor violinist Jascha Heifetz require much in the way of introductions, they are not the actual focus of this Archipel Records disc. However, the man who is the focus, conductor Guido Cantelli, may be unfamiliar to modern artists despite the considerable early fame he amassed. Before the age of 30, Cantelli had been conducting to great acclaim at La Scala and was already being groomed by Toscanini to assume the helm of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Many likened Cantelli's style at the podium to Toscanini, somewhat unfortunately including Toscanini's temper. Although he was put in the same league as other conductors of his time -- from Szell to Bernstein to Solti -- his seemingly unstoppable trajectory was cut tragically short when, at the age of 36, he was killed in a plane crash. Since then, his name and his work are heard with less and less frequency. This album features two live recordings made with the New York Philharmonic (Violin Concerto) and NBC Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No. 4). Neither recording is likely to be considered an ideal reference for the works at hand, but they do demonstrate why Cantelli made such an impression in his day. Tempos are vigorously brisk, yet Cantelli insists on precision from his orchestra. This is especially clear in the fiery Saltarello from the Fourth Symphony in which every note and every detail is cleanly executed. This drive plus Heifetz's own tendency to push tempos faster results in a Violin Concerto that is a bit rushed and hurried. Archipel's restored sound is clean, warm, and surprisingly spacious for a mono recording.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64|
|Symphony No. 4 in A major ("Italian"), Op. 90|
|Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56|