Exasperated by the lack of fervor in the Boston Symphony's playing at rehearsal, Serge Koussevitzky vented his utmost contempt: "You play as if it is something nothing!" A variant was, "It sounds like price five cents," as was his poetical protest against dry literalism: "It smells from office." In these words can be found the greatest virtue of Koussevitzky's approach, a passion for every note of music as if it were the most important of all-and, for the moment, it was. Music was about something; an unheroic Heldenleben brought the complaint, "Nu, und woo is das hero?" In his international "idiosyncratic" of speech, which spilled over into his conducting, is evidence of a life which at times sounds precisely like an MGM musical. If Koussevitzky was deficient in technique, which no one had ever required him to study solidly, and spent little time considering form and artistic intention, supposedly making his readings too subjective, few disasters occurred. While the conductor continued to better himself, the orchestra learned to take cues from each other, resulting in a radiant chamber-music sound achieved by no other orchestra. Koussevitzky is documented in this extremely fine-sounding recording by two staples from his Russian repertoire along with the world premiere of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 9.
CD-4981(1) SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY CONDUCTS MUSIC FROM RUSSIA: N. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36 (1888) (live 31/3/45; D. SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 9 in E-flat, Op. 70 (1945) (live 10/8/46). All recorded in Massachusetts and released here for the first time in