I took a chance on this at a local lp eatery, and was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the performance and recording. My very first post on this blog was Perlea’s Remington lp of Debussy’s La Boîte à joujoux, and since the link had expired for that I’ve taken the opportunity to do a fresh 24 bit transfer of it. So please visit that post to download the new and improved transfer.
Back to this Schubert. According to the discographic information at http://www.charm.rhul.ac.uk/, this performance was recorded and released in 1956, in mono pressings. Yet this later pressing (with a “RVG” embossed in the vinyl indicating that Rudy Van Gelder mastered it), is in true stereo, and could even interest the audiophiles among us, as a wonderful stereo it is, with a very wide range and pleasing image spread. It’s a bit light in bass, but some of this was perhaps Perlea’s preferred balance. There’s an interesting emphasis on the (important) trombone lines, at the expense of trumpet and timpani, which adds an interesting clarity to textures. It’s been a while since I’ve heard any of the Toscanini versions, but perhaps the textural approach is under the influence of AT? Certainly the swiftly moving Andante con moto movement is in the Toscanini mold. There is a truly strange detail in this movement at the 7:29 mark: the pause after this dynamic buildup is a mind-boggling 15 seconds! At first I thought my record was stuck in a (very quiet) skip! Was this Perlea’s interpretation or Vox’s goof? In any case, I don’t think you’ll find the same “heavenly length” on another version! Overall, I think the first and third movements are the strongest, with beautifully shaped lines and well balanced textures. You won’t find the individuality of a Mengelberg or Furtwangler here, but there’s much to enjoy. The finale seems promising, but I feel it loses tension somewhere down the road, and ultimately disappoints. The Vox stable of conductors can certainly yield many pleasures (Perlea, Hollreiser, van Remoortel, Gielen, and of course the better known Horenstein & Klemperer), if not always with the greatest consistency. Perlea himself could be extremely dull, as in his slack and tepid Rimsky Scheherezade. I should pull out his Berlioz Fantastique, which was actually my first lp version and I found very good at age of 10 or 11 (I also had the later Monteux SFSO version on 45 rpm!).
Schubert Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944
Jonel Perlea, conductor
VOX STPL 510.200 (also PL 10 200)
Recorded or Issued September 10, 1956