Jascha Horenstein

Jascha Horenstein conducts the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

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While this recording of Jascha Horenstein leading the Czech Philharmonic at the 1966 Montreux Festival is not the bottom of the barrel of live Horenstein recordings -- surely his grotesquely out-of-tune recording Mahler's Sixth with the Stockholm Philharmonic has that dubious distinction -- it is still a recording that only the most dedicated of Horenstein fans will be interested in hearing. Because while the Czech Philharmonic is certainly one of the great European orchestras and while they must certainly have known the works on the program backwards and forwards, they sound too often like they have no idea where the beat is and less idea as to where it is going. Whether Horenstein had too little rehearsal time with the Czech Philharmonic or whether conductor and orchestra just did not get along is of little ultimate consequence when the results are this inept. Throughout Strauss' Don Juan, the winds sound weak, the brass sound tired, and the strings sound ready for a night off. And throughout Brahms' Symphony No. 2, the whole orchestra sounds like it's performing while thinking about dinner after the concert: only in the final coda of the closing movement does it come alive and then it is only to rush to the double bars. Somm's live sound is flat and one dimensional. This disc is only for the most dedicated of Horenstein fans.

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