Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Suspension of this Blog


My blog has been targeted by someone or someone(s) within the last month. Namely, recent and previous posts are somehow being reported to Mediafire for copyright violations. This is ridiculous as many of my posts are of recordings well over 50 years old and of an interest to a small group of people, namely readers of this blog. Jealousy, spite, maliciousness...I don't know what would motivate someone to wreck my blog. I've seen other bloggers attacked like Bryan over at Shellackophile, Satyr at 78 toeren and Tin Ear at The Music Parlour and to what end. I give them all due credit for starting up again and wish them all the best and godspeed. They are terrific people and they have an incredible love for what they do!

At this point, I need a break and I hope that you all understand. What I do is an amateur endeavor and I pose no threat to professionals or big money interests. Sadly, I just don't want to do this for now  as I'm afraid that I could be targeted and sabotaged even if I post on another file sharing service. What I might do is to offer up recordings on symphonyshare, but I need to give that some more thought.

Anyway, thank you all. I have not been the best blogger since I'm a bit of a loner at heart and I apologize to those folks who have diligent with comments while my responses have been short or not at all.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Opera Overtures with Horst Stein and Edward Downes on Somerset


Remember those old Somerset records? You could buy 'em for $1.98 at the local Safeway, Radio Shack or Walgreens. Though meant for mass distribution, many of the performances on them were very fine indeed and here are two examples of rousing overtures. The London Philharmonic is led by Horst Stein and Edward Downes respectively and I'd place these lp's square about 1963 or 4.

Both the conductors featured here did not have especially large discographies and I'm at a loss why that is so. Everything that I have heard by Horst Stein is beautifully prepared and executed (I think his Bruckner 6 is the best out there, he really gets superlative playing from the VPO) while Edward Downes was a noted opera conductor and being so means that he knows where to extract the emotion from these overtures and preludes. His take on Ruslan and Ludmilla is riproaringly wonderful.

You'll enjoy these lps. I grabbed them out of the 3 for a buck pile. What a steal!




Mediafire is having a problem with this download. ...sigh....and sorry!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Treasures of Byzantium

I've been reading a lot about the East Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, of late. For a good number of years, it has held a certain mystical fascination for me that I don't really know how to describe. During the middle ages, the empire evolved into a state that valued the Hellenic-Roman traditions albeit with an oriental, eastern twist. Indeed, for hundreds of years, it was the centre of culture and taste,  a place that many European principalities looked upon as a model for how a state should look and be governed.

This lp by the Byzantine Choir under Frank Desby captures the mystical, otherworldly nature of the Byzantine state and church, which we so intertwined as to be one organic substance. The chants and recitations here are breathtakingly beautiful and they carry the listener off into another state of being. No wonder visitors to Constantinople often felt that they had entered a place that was somewhere between earth and heaven.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Menahem Pressler plays Music for Children of Bartok

Bartok's series of Music for Children contains deceptively simple but imaginative music nonetheless. From MGM E3047, the great Menahem Pressler performs the 39 Pieces based on Slovak folksongs. Now to find volume 1 containing the Hungarian folksongs!

It's a shame that more pianists don't have a go at this genre. I suppose some turn their noses up at the brevity and apparent ease of the writing. It's not virtuoso music and will not have them standing in the aisles. Yet, the charm of these miniatures is that they will bring a smile to the face and your mind will wander, in a positive, childlike way.

What a great artist Menahem Pressler is! Tasteful, immaculately prepared, serious in that he did not approach these pieces in a condescending way. Marvelous!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lukas Foss conducts Sibelius from Buffalo

Here's a wonderful record, one which sort of heralded in a renaissance for the Buffalo Philharmonic in terms of recordings. Lukas Foss leads the BPO in the Four Legends from Kalevala by Sibelius. Cut in 1968, it was a byproduct of the second festival of the arts in the fair city of Buffalo. Nonesuch performed a great service by capturing these musical moments.

I always enjoy listening to Lukas Foss' musicmaking for it is inevitably well prepared and faithful to the score. Unlike his almost exact contemporary and friend, Leonard Bernstein, Foss was not one to interject too much of himself into a score to the point of overkill, nor was he a musician who relied on effect over substance. In short, the results of his work bear the stamp of honesty, integrity and intellect.
Glad I dug this one out while rearranging stuff in the cellar.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

A few to tide me over....

I've had some serious "writer's block" of late which, unfortunately, has made blogging oh so difficult for me. Perhaps I've hit a wall or something, I don't know. Well, as not to deprave my patient and loyal readers, I'm going to to offer up a half dozen transfers that I've had in the can, albeit without commentary...

Note:  The Beethoven and Bruckner are the only stereo recordings here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sir Thomas Beecham works his magic in Goldmark

An absolutely fantastic record here today! In fact, one of the very best recordings that I have heard in quite a while. Sir Thomas Beecham conducts the RPO in this 1952 lp of Karl Goldmark's delightful "Rustic Wedding" Symphony.

Nobody could coax magic out of the byways of music like Beecham. When he was so inspired, the results were that second tier music sounded vital, impressively important and downright magical. Such is the case here with the Goldmark. This is delightful music, in the spirit of Brahms and Dvorak, but without that extra bit of "zip" found in those composer's best works. That said, the Rustic wedding Symphony contains much beauty, singing string lines and hearty wind parts. Beecham revels in this score, capturing the rustic spirit of the proceedings while ensuring that his principals have their absolute best way with their scores. This record has never been equalled and probably never will because the genius and gifts of Beecham, quite honestly, were unique, irreplaceable and once in a lifetime.  A treasure here for sure!

As a filler, I have included a Camden record of Brahms' second symphony. This lp features the only recording by the "Claridge Symphony Orchestra." there has been debate on who this ensemble really is - some say Fritz Busch and the DRSO and others say Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I'll leave it up to you to decide. My opinion is probably Ormandy because the strings are quite creamy here.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Musica Antica e Nuova from the Colt Klavier Collection

Here's an lp from an interesting series that the old Oryx label rleased as part of it's "Colt Klavier Collection" series. This is volume six featuring fortepianist
Celia Bizony leading the Musica Antica e Nuova in a fine program of 18th century music by CPE Bach, Schobert, and JC Bach. This is a "parlor" type program of chamber music with voice that is sure to please the listener as all the pieces are well crafted, enjoyable on the ear and immaculately rendered.

I hope to acquire the other 5 volumes in this series at some point.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Robert Gerle performs concertos of Delius and Barber

A while back I offered up some playing by the fine Hungarian-American violinist Robert Gerle. On this Westminster stereo lp, Gerle is joined by forgotten American conductor Robert Zeller for an interesting coupling of the Delius and Barber violin concertos. The orchestra, probably totally unfamiliar with this music, is the ubiquitous Vienna State Opera Orchestra.

I admire the programming here however, I think a bit more care could have gone into the presentation. The Delius, for one, is very much a fringe repertoire piece and having it recorded by a Viennese orchestra, not comfortable with the style and lacking in rehearsal time, makes for a somewhat wooden traversal. I think Gerle acquits himself quite well but if he had had an English orchestra with a stronger podium hand, the vinyl production could have yielded more of a winner. In short, what we have here is a solid go at the Delius (much can be said for the Barber as well) but by no means is this definitive.

Alas, an interesting curiosity and my admiration for Westminster at having a go at it.