Leopold Stokowski, Rudolf Kempe, Sir John Barbirolli, Sviatoslav Richter, the Amadeus Quartet ... They all gave groundbreaking answers to the always exciting question of convincing interpretations. Such successful and gratifying performances are not left to a memory or a broadcast archive. Under the title of BBC Legends, the venerable British broadcaster makes its hidden treasures available to the public.
In 1951, George Enescu conducted a performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass for the BBC. Alongside Suzanne Danco, Peter Pears and Bruce Boyce sang Kathleen Ferrier. The lush legato string sound, the well-disposed BBC Chorus, the gorgeous singing of Kathleen Ferrier with much internal stress, and the surprising moments of interpretive presentation, are all fascinating to hear with today’s original sound-drenched ears.
There are also recordings to find with surprising resonance and dynamics. For example, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, conducted in 1963 by Leopold Stokowski in the Royal Albert Hall: “Searing pace and dance-like rhythms” or the “clear texture and thrilling, sweeping finale” inspired the public and critics of the times completely.
Sviatoslav Richter was one of the truly great pianists of his generation. The bitterness, loneliness and profound despair of his Schubert playing, which characterize his music across long expanses of time, are of the highest degree.
The introductions in English, French and German provide not only interesting information about the work and its interpretation, but often explain very vividly the circumstances in which the recordings were made. The BBC’s edition provides the chance to once again allow great moments of musical interpretation to be experienced.