Vaclav Talich

Haendel: Oboe Concerto HWV 287; Bach: Concerto in D minor BWV 1052; Orchestral Suite BWV 1068

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Some releases in Supraphon's Václav Talich Special Edition are mandatory listening: his Dvorák, Smetana, Janácek, and Suk recordings remain the best ever made. Some, like this disc coupling recordings of Handel's G minor Oboe Concerto with recordings of Bach's D minor Keyboard Concerto and D major Orchestral Suite, are more of a struggle to listen to, though they have their strong moments. The D minor Keyboard Concerto comes off best. Recorded in 1954 with steel-fingered pianist Sviatoslav Richter, the sweet strings of the Czech Philharmonic seem not altogether out of their element in the work's severe counterpoint, and Richter's demonic playing spurs Talich on. The D major Orchestral Suite comes off the worst. Recorded in 1950 with the Slovak Philharmonic, the orchestra sounds big and gawky in the Overture and Gigue and soft and sloppy in the famous Air on a G string. A bit better than the suite but nowhere near as good as the Keyboard Concerto, the 1955 recording of the Oboe Concerto with sour-toned soloist Frantisek Hanták and the Czech Philharmonic sounds pudgy and sentimental. The monaural recordings themselves range from the dim 1954 Keyboard Concerto through the dry 1955 Oboe Concerto to the dusty and distant 1950 Suite.

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