Lyrichord issues 3-cd box set “Humbert Lucarelli – The Lyrichord Years”

05/24/2013 (press release: // New York, NY, USA // Nick Fritsch

This month, Lyrichord Classical released “Humbert Lucarelli: The Lyrichord Years”: a handsome 3-cd box set of long unavailable key works of Britten, Hindemith, Nielsen and others, all featuring the legendary American oboist, Humbert Lucarelli. These three landmark albums were also released as individual albums for digital download. The reissue of back-catalog gems is nothing unusual, particularly for a label of Lyrichord’s long-standing (founded in 1950 by Austrian emigre, Peter Fritsch). Even for a label with high standards though, these recordings have been painstakingly remastered by Lyrichord’s current President, Nick Fritsch, and Humbert Lucarelli himself.

That the New York Times called Humbert Lucarelli “America’s Finest Oboe Recitalist” is no surprise to anyone who has followed this extraordinary musician’s long and varied career. By any measure, Humbert Lucarelli is one of the most revered and acclaimed instrumentalists America has ever produced. He has appeared as soloist with the world’s finest orchestras and chamber music groups throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. He has performed and recorded with some of the world’s leading conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Fiedler, Kirill Kondrashin, Josef Krips, James Levine, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Artur Rodzinski, Sir Georg Solti, Leopold Stokowski and Igor Stravinsky. As a teacher, Lucarelli has inspired and trained new generations of talented young oboists for over three decades.

Lucarelli’s many recordings on dozens of top classical labels have continually won praise from critics and listeners the world over. Yet, while much of Lucarelli’s recorded repertoire has long been a staple of any comprehensive collection of oboe performance, the three seminal recordings he made for Lyrichord in the 60’s and 70’ have not previously been re-released in any form. Happily, Lyrichord has answered the voice of popular demand. Now, Lucarelli’s singular performances of Benjamin Britten’s “Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Opus 49, and other works”, (1968), “OBOE SONATAS – of Hindemith, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns,” (1978), as well as with the Lark Woodwind Quintet, on “Woodwind Quintet Opus 43, Seranata in Vano”(1966), and other works of Denmark’s greatest composer, Carl Nielsen, are once again available for both longtime fans, and new audiences alike.

Mr. Lucarelli called Lyrichord’s current owner/producer (son of the founder) Nick Fritsch, way back in 2007, and the two discussed a possible revisiting of the oboist’s work on Lyrichord. Then, as often happens, and though the project was seriously considered, it turned out to be several years in the making. In fact, it was only when Lucarelli’s demanding teaching schedule at three institutions, his many master classes, workshops, and commitments to private students began to ease up slightly last summer, that the project began in earnest.

Lucarelli has spent his entire playing career considering the nuance and expressive nature of the oboe’s sound, and its communicative power. In an essay written for The Instrumentalist in 1988 (and included in the box set) called “No Easy Answers”, he wrote,

“In the medium of instrumental music it is generally conceded that the highest goal of all instrumentalists is to mirror the beauty and mystery of the human voice. Certainly the oboe is one of the foremost proponents of that art. I sometimes think that this is because the tone comes from the breath, rising from deep within the body. It engages without inhibition a double reed, which is similar to the vocal cords. For me the real power of the oboe is the beauty of its tone and its ability to burrow through the breastbone and into the heart. Its power is in its tenderness. It is a tone that carries all of the most personal human feelings.”

As the sound of Lucarelli’ instrument is so distinctive and instantly recognizable, it was crucial that it be preserved as transparently as possible when the original materials were transferred to the digital domain. For this reason, Lucarelli arranged that he would personally oversee the digital re mastering of these landmark recordings, working closely with Nick Fritsch for several weeks.

Of the project he said,

“These early issues represent an important part of the oboist’s repertoire and gave me my first opportunity to speak. Over the past years I have received many communications from oboists and other musicians who greatly appreciated these performances in their original LP format. We wanted the of the oboe sound to fully represent not only the sound I hear with my ears when I play, but also correspond to the sound that exists in my head when I perform. A very subjective endeavor.”

The three Lyrichord albums represent three distinct periods in the oboist’s career, and each was the product of a small group of like-minded musicians, who were strongly committed to the works represented on the albums. Though the oboist was frequently recording in those days on major labels as a soloist with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors (as were other members of the groups), the fact that Lyrichord was a small independent label helped allow these projects to be true collaborative labors of love, by Lucarelli and his fellow performers, each of whom wanted these recordings to be representative of their artistry and interpretation.

“Lyrichord’s founder, Peter Fritsch, was a major force in starting it all for me. Our many conversations during the preparation of these releases became a critical part in forming my musical and personal life”.

So concerned was Lucarelli with “getting it right” with these recordings at the time, that after having completed the Britten album, some nagging dissatisfaction with aspects of the sound and performance of the “Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Opus 49″ for solo oboe, eventually led him to completely re-record those works, only presenting a finished album to Fritsch for a second time the following year. Fritsch was supportive of Lucarelli’s quest for perfection – intuitively knowing that if it was that important to this artist, to get it right, the results would be well worth waiting for.

For this reason, Nick Fritsch decided to reissue the albums in their entirety, rather than to only focus on Lucarelli’s solo performances. “These recordings all certainly feature the oboe quite prominently, but this is not strictly speaking a” Greatest Hits” type of retrospective. These albums – which may include a work for solo violin and piano – such as Britten’s Suite for Violin and Piano, Op. 6 performed by Gerald Tarack, and Thomas Grubb, or the range of instrumentation employed by the Lark Woodwind Quintet to perform the various chamber works of Nielsen, are representative of the totality of these efforts by those who performed on them. They stand as documents of the dedicated, collective efforts of fine musicians at a particular point in time.”

He went on to say, “I think too often these days, choices for what to include in collections are based solely on marketing considerations, which can rob recordings of their original context and integrity as albums. Yes, Humbert Lucarelli is the undisputed star here, but he is also a member of an ensemble working toward a common end, and it is this directed voice and singular vision of an ensemble that makes a truly great recording that can stand the test of time”.

In fact, while recently reflecting on this aspect of the Nielsen project, Lucarelli said,

“While rehearsing the Carl Nielsen quintet for the recording with The Lark Woodwind Quintet I learned that one of the most important benefits of playing chamber music was that your colleagues challenges, support and inspiration made you play more beautifully than you have ever dreamed was possible.”

As though meant to be, the opportunity to combine the talents of two special individuals emerged and evolved after the passing of Nick Fritschs’ father-in-law, John Doyel, who was nearly 93 years old. Just prior to his death, Doyel, an artist and film maker, had completed a short-subject video piece entitled “Water Everywhere. As it happened, the completion of the film coincided with the re-mastering of Lucarelli’s recordings. The video’s imagery, an elegant montage of water in its many forms; flowing through streams and rivers, falling from the sky, at rest in puddles and aquariums, was filmed throughout Manhattan, along the Hudson River, and in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York. When Fritsch saw the first draft of the edited piece, he immediately told Doyel that he knew of precisely the music that should accompany these evocative water scenes – Paul Hindemith’s Sehr Langsam movement of his “Sonata for Oboe & Piano, 1938” from Lucarelli’s OBOE SONATAS album. Doyel synced the music to the images and the results were pure magic. It almost appeared as if the music was written with these images in mind. The video is now enjoying many views daily on YouTube, and serves as perfect visual complement to the contemplative serenity Hindemith’s music and rich soulful purity of Lucarelli’s oboe.

Perhaps the synergy that can occur from different artists working together (even, as in this case, before they knew it themselves) in a dedicated, collective effort, still holds sway for these recordings, albeit in this case, for a project in a new medium created even many, many years later.

Social Media Tags:Humbert Lucarelli, oboe, Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Francis Poulenc, Camille Saint-Saëns, Carl Nielsen, Classical Music, Classical Recordings, Lyrichord Discs

Newsroom powered by Online Press Release Distribution –