I parsed in past the Willem Mengelberg’s recordings of Strauss’ Don Juan with Concertgebouw in 1938 but today I got a record of the “Hero's Life” that they did in 21 April of 1941.
The 21 April of 1941 is a bad time in Europe. Everything was breathing with WWII, and it was two month before Germans attacked Russia. The April 12 - Yugoslavia surrendered. April 19 - London semi-destroyed by the heaviest booming they ever experienced in the war. April 21 - a ¼ millions Greek army surrendered to Germans. April 22 – British government issued an official order of evacuation of all British interest from Greece. A day before, on Monday, a day after the Hitler's birthday, Willem Mengelberg with his orchestra was comfortably suiting in studio and recorded the “Hero's Life”...
I have to say the performance is phenomenal, beyond phenomenal. Was Mengelberg, a "Nazis sympathizer", writing a sonic epigram for “Mein Kampf”? Probably in the light of the extraordinary successes of Hitler’s blitzkrieg Mengelberg was very inspired and the Ein Heldenleben was the best piece to express his pride? I do not criticize Mengelberg and my interests are musical not political. Whatever he felt – his April 21 play was beyond anything else.
Which kind of opens an opportunity for “other ways” to administer music. I heard the there was some kind of Hollywood film shot in Nevada and an actor had to play one day a VERY happy man. So, the film director organized for the actor a trip to Vegas a made a casino to let his to win a very large sum of money. The actor was palsy very happy the next day - that how the orchestras need to be conducted!That all bring to an interesting question – are we losing a great opportunity? Why do not collect musicians of NY Stock Exchange and to play ether Mozart’s "Jupiter" or Schnittke 8th symphony. I think if to teach Guantánamo’s inmates how to play strings then we would have a potentially phenomenal cycle of the Shostakovich’s quarters…
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche