REVIEW POTPOURRI – TV Series: Breakout Kings; Conductor: Jonel Perlea; Composer: Maurice Ravel

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Breakout Kings

starring Laz Alonso, Dominick Lombardozzi, Malcolm Goodwin, Serinda Swan, Jimmi Simpson and Brooke Nevin, produced for A&E, 2011-12, 23 episodes, 43 minutes each.

Laz Alonso

Dominick Lombardozzi

Breakout Kings dealt with a special task force, led by an investigator, Charlie (Laz Alonso), and his assistant, Ray (Dominick Lom­bar­dozzi), to catch prisonors who have escaped, usually ones with violent criminal pasts. However, the two are utilizing the talents of three convicted felons because of their special insights into the criminal mind.

They are a former wholesaler of drugs and weapons, Shea (Malcolm Goodwin); a murderer of five gang members for killing her dad, Erica (Serinda Swan); and a prescriber of illegal pharmaceuticals and a professional behaviorist, Lowery (Jimmi Simpson). All are compensated for their services by being transferred from maximum pens to minimum security residencies, and given one month off their remaining years for each recapture. But, if even one tries to escape, all three will be returned to their previous joint and have their sentences doubled.

Serinda Swan

Malcolm Goodwin

Finally, there is Julianne, the talented analyst and researcher, who was top in her police academy class before being overtaken by depression and other emotional disorders and who is portrayed in a very high-calibre performance by the Canadian actress, Brooke Nevin.

Brooke Nevin

I have already viewed season one and found each episode entertaining, even though a bit predictable. The cast does good work in making their characters believable and, especially as the series proceeds along, quite engaging and sympathetic.

Rimsky-Korsakov

Scheherazade
Jonel Perlea conducts the Bamberg Symphony; Vox-STPL 510.220, stereo lp, recorded 1963.

Jonel Perlea

Conductor Jonel Perlea (1900-1970) recorded a number of LPs for Vox after a 1957 stroke limited him to his left arm. But he delivered a number of good performances, including exceptionally fine readings of the Beethoven Emperor and Chopin First with pianist Guiomar Novaes, and this intense Scheherazade, one of a really good catalog of different recordings of the work.

Ravel

Bolero
Pavan for a Dead Princess; Menuet Antique; Rhapsodie Espagnole- Manuel Rosenthal conducting the Orchestra of the National Opera of Paris; Westminster, WST 14023, recorded early ‘60s.

Maurice Ravel

Manuel Rosenthal (1904-2003) was most prominent for his concoction of Offenbach tunes, known as the Gaite Parisienne ballet. His conducting of these Ravel four staples is very good and, for collectors of duplicates, Ravel and conductors below the radar, this LP is worth a search.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Film: Cheers for Miss Bishop; Bass singer: Feodor Chaliapin; Conductor: Simon Rattle

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Cheers for Miss Bishop

starring Martha Scott, William Gargan, Edmund Gwenn, Sterling Holloway, Sidney Blackmer, etc.; directed by Tay Garnett; United Artists, 1941, 95 minutes, DVD.

Martha Scott

William Gargan

I have seen and enjoyed this warm-hearted soap opera twice, if such a term can be employed. Martha Scott (1913-2003) portrays an English teacher, Ella Bishop, who serves for over 40 years at the college in her mid-western small town. William Gargan is a local businessman and loyal, lifelong friend, Sam, deeply in love with her forever but never having the gumption to declare it.

The story begins with Ella graduating from high school the year that the college opens. Both her character and academic work win over the president of the college, played by Edmund Gwenn with his consistent blend of understated class, to such an extent that, upon her college graduation and ambition to teach in one of the big cities, he immediately offers her a position.

Edmund Gwenn

Sterling Holloway

She wins many hearts and minds with her passionate commitment to her work over the years but her heart is broken twice by suiters. Meanwhile, she raises a daughter born out of wedlock to a younger cousin dying during childbirth. Finally, upon retirement, she is honored at a surprise and massively attended alumni banquet that includes a number of former students who have attained world fame because of her inspiration to them.

Sidney Blackmer

Every member of the cast gave A-plus performances while the film, despite a rather predictable story, was shot and paced in such a vivid, agreeable manner, as has been the case of similar movies from the ‘40s, that viewers were, and still are, drawn in.

In 1960, William Gargan, had his larynx removed due to throat cancer, had to speak through a voicebox and became an activist for helping others who had experienced laryngectomies to learn to speak again.

Borodin: Prince Igor

Recitative and Air of Prince Galitsky
Feodor Chaliapin, bass, with orchestra; Victrola- 87361; ten-inch one-sided 78 shellac, recorded 1920.

Feodor Chaliapin

Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938) is arguably considered the finest bass singer who ever lived and gives an electrifying performance of the Borodin aria listed above. But he did not achieve his fame only through singing but also as an actor; he impressed the composer Rachmaninoff, with whom he had a long friendship, and many others with the painstaking detail with which he planned every line, movement and position in the roles he performed.

Finally, he was a notorious carouser who maintained two separate families with a wife and mistress.

Most of his many 78 records are available in CD form and for listening on YouTube.

Rachmaninoff

Symphonic Dances & Vocalise
Simon Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Angel, DS 538019, recorded 10-23-1982 and 2-28-83, digital stereo LP.

Simon Rattle

Rachmaninoff completed his Symphonic Dances in October 1940, with the words, “I thank Thee, Lord!” and, due to poor health and constant fatigue, did little besides completing the final revision of his 4th Piano Concerto before his death during his 70th year in 1943. He would entrust the world premiere to the Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he left recordings of his four concertos and the Paganini Rhapsody with himself at the keyboard, and still in print on CDs.

The Symphonic Dances make for exciting listening with their very colorful rhythms and captivating melodies. Sir Simon Rattle recorded very satisfactory performances of the Dances and the beautiful short Vocalise with its haunting passage for solo violin.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Violinist: Piotr Janowski; TV episodes by Nelufar Hedayat; Pop singer: Julee Cruise

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Mozart

4th Violin Concerto
Szymanowski Ist Violin Concerto – Piotr Janowski, violin; Stanislaw Wislocki conducting the Warsaw National Philharmonic; Stolat SZM 0105, stereo LP, recorded 1967-68.

Piotr Janowski

Polish born Piotr Janowski (1951-2008) recorded both of these Concertos when he was 16 years old but plays in a wonderfully matured, accomplished manner with musicality galore and a seasoned conductor and orchestra. The Concertos are richly rewarding listening experiences that hold up well. The Szymanowski is a very shimmering, coloristic piece that has become a big favorite of mine in recent years. Mozart’s joyous 4th, along with his 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Concertos, was finished by 1775, when he was 19 and would never write again for any solo string instrument. A record well worth the search.

The Traffickers

hosted by Nelufar Hedayat; produced by Fusion and available on Netflix; premiered November 13, 2016; approximately 41 minutes for each of 8 episodes.

Nelufar Hedayat

Recently I watched the first episode of what promises to be an interesting series of investigative journalism on the black market in illegal commodities, The Traffickers, with already seven additional programs available on Netflix. Its topics include human trafficking, fake pharmaceuticals, weapons, human organs, etc.

The host, Nelufar Hedayat, is a 30-year-old Muslim woman, who has traveled light years around the globe to follow up even the most minor threads to both heighten and bolster each weekly topic. The one I saw dealt with the wholesale poaching of the rhino population, mainly found in South Africa’s Kruger Preserve. It is one of huge profit and supposedly minimal risk. But researchers have found an average of three rhinos being killed daily, thus concluding that the population will end up extinct. The demand, mainly found in Southeast Asia, centers on the supposed healing of every known disease through grinding the powder of the rhino’s horn, a belief held since the Middle Ages. Secondly, the filthy rich enjoy the various trinkets carved and whittled from the horn, with which they flaunt their wealth .

Hedayat and her staff risk their lives talking to the involved criminal elements and depict the dangers to communities where the animals are processed.

Highly recommended!

Julee Cruise

Floating Into the Night
Warner Brothers, 4-25859, cassette, recorded 1989.

Julee Cruise

I have commented elsewhere on this cassette being one of the most beautiful albums of late ‘80s pop music I have ever heard. Julee Cruise, now 61, is a very talented singer who was provided a number of songs here by composer Angelo Badalamenti, all of them in the sweet, dream-like, ethereal category and music one can listen to or simply relax with. Cruise and Badala­menti both worked with director David Lynch who was then involved with his creation, Twin Peaks, a cult favorite among TV viewers, and were associated with some of Lynch’s other projects as well. The Wiki bio on Cruise is rather insightful and quite interesting.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Record: After the Ball; Composer: Stravinsky; Album: Living Marimbas

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

After the Ball

Joan Morris, soprano, with William Bolcom, piano. Nonesuch H-71304, stereo LP, recorded 1974.

Joan Morris and her husband, William Bolcom, have been serving up records and concerts for over 45 years since the early seventies, their specialty being popular songs and composers from the Civil War to the ‘50s Lieber and Stoller. One album spotlighted Henry Clay Work, who wrote My Grandfather’s Clock.

The above set collects classic and not so classic vaudeville hits – Meet Me in Saint Louis, I‘ve Got Rings on My Fingers, the title song, my special favorite Love’s Old Sweet Song and ten others – and Joan Morris gives her charming colorful soprano best with her husband’s skilled keyboard. Their approach is that of the Sunday afternoon drawing room or parlor at Aunt Blanche’s but it is one making for great listening, in small doses!

Stravinsky

Suite Italienne
Debussy: Sonata for Cello and Piano; Busoni: Kleine Suite, Op. 23; Foss: Capriccio for Cello and Piano – Gregor Piatigorsky, cello; Lukas Foss, piano; RCA Victor, LM-2293, mono LP, recorded 1958.

Gregor Piatigorsky

Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976) was a bear of a man in his physique as well as being one of the 20th century’s truly fine cellists and turning out recordings characterized by a special kind of electrifying intensity and sublime beauty. Two special favorites are his early ‘40s Dvorak Cello Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and the two Brahms Cello Sonatas from the ‘70s with pianist Artur Rubinstein.

This week’s record contains the listed works by four quite gifted and interesting modern composers. However, my favorite piece is the just over 10 minute Debussy Cello Sonata, one of the most beautiful examples of quiet sweet subtlety, mystery and bursting rhythm ever written by anyone and performed in the most alive, exciting yet delicate manner by the cellist and his partner, composer/pianist Lucas Foss.

Living Marimbas

Tijuana Taxis
RCA Camden, CAS-961, stereo LP, recorded 1966.

This batch of ten ‘60s Latin-American tunes, including the two classics, Spanish Eyes and Spanish Harlem, is arranged and performed by a studio group of carefully handpicked instrumentalists under the noted pop conductor, Leo Addeo, in an understated manner that is pleasant but not moving.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Composer: Schumann; Movie: Boys’ Night Out; Band Leader: Ralph Flanagan

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Schumann

Symphonies and various works for piano and orchestra and solo piano

Robert Schumann

Heidrun Holtmann and Denes Varjon, pianists; Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra; Stefan Soltesz conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony; Capriccio- LC 08748, 5 CDs, released 2006.

This very generously filled package of five CDs contains some of the most lovable classical music in the world by Robert Schumann, 1810-1856; very nicely performed and blessed with vibrant digital sound; and priced in a range very close to ten bucks.

I especially recommend the sweeping, swash-buckling 3rd Symphony, known as the Rhenish, for its grand depiction of the Rhine River or maybe the Kinderszenen, or Scenes of Childhood, with its fountains of melody. But I will state that every piece of music will reward attentive listeners. An unquestionable recommendation for beginning classical listeners!

Boys’ Night Out

starring James Garner, Howard Duff, Howard Morris, Tony Randall, Kim Novak, Patti Page, etc.; directed by Michael Gordon; MGM films, 1962, 115 minutes.

James Garner

Howard Duff

Four businessmen, three of them married, commute together on the Greenwich to New York City train every day. The husbands persuade the bachelor to find a cheap yet swanky apartment, complete with a gorgeous “housekeeper,” to entertain each of them on their respective nights out. Due to an inscrutable set of coincidences, the digs are found, along with a woman, Cathy, played with fetching allure by Kim Novak, who is doing graduate work on male sexuality and agrees to the deal, fully intending to, using her wiles, avoid the bed.

Kim Novak

Patti Page

One choice example of humor is when Cathy’s professor asks, “Can you look like yes but act like no? This is what a nice girl hasn’t learnt!” To which Cathy replies, “This is what a nice girl has learnt best!”

The comedy is superbly done, as the story builds up to a truly farcical conclusion. Garner as the bachelor and the rest of the cast give a true ensemble performance.

Ralph Flanagan

1001 Nighters
RCA Victor, LPM-1274, mono LP, recorded 1956.

Ralph Flanagan

Ralph Flanagan (1914-1995) began his career in 1935, just as the Big Band era was getting started, and worked for Sammy Kaye, Horace Heidt and Blue Barron; after World War II, he did arrangements for Perry Como, Tony Martin, etc.

However, it wasn’t until 1949 that he really hit the big time with the formation of his own band with its very danceable sound, quite similar to Glenn Miller. He discovered traveling on the road was the real cash cow, although record sales were a close second, and he loved every minute of it. The title of the album refers to the minimal number of evenings chalked up by these journeys over a six-year period.

The selections to be heard here include such oldies as Indiana, Stars Fell On Alabama, Moon Over Miami, etc., with a group of singers joining in for a few titles. Glenn Miller fans would especially enjoy this very pleasant record.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Singer: Elvis Presley; Movie: Gangster Story; Composer: Brahms

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Elvis Presley

Loving You; Teddy Bear
RCA Victor 47-7000, seven-inch picture sleeve 45 rpm, recorded 1957.

Elvis Presley

Teddy Bear was a huge number one hit on the rock, country and rhythm and blues charts for the great Elvis (1935-1977). Both songs here were also part of the 1957 film, with the same name, and its soundtrack LP, consisting totally of Presley performances. Teddy Bear’s lyricist Bernie Lowe (1917-2001) was also a businessman who established Cameo records in 1956, which later expanded to Cameo/Parkway. He would sign an unknown singer, Ernest Evans, to the label, who himself later changed his name to Chubby Checker!

Both are superb songs, performed in a first rate manner.

Gangster Story

directed by and starring Walter Matthau and Carol Grace; 68 minutes; released December, 1959.

Walter Matthau

Carol Grace

Walter Matthau portrays a bank robber, Jack Martin, fleeing the police and needing cash. He then pulls a cleverly staged heist of a local bank in the town where he is hiding out, lays low at the library and becomes involved with a librarian, Carol Logan, played by his real life wife, Carol Grace; in fact, the couple married during the production of this film.

The main conflict is not only hiding from the cops but also from the local crime boss who wants a share of the loot.

I liked Matthau’s skilled acting, and directing, along with the shaping and development of the story. The obviously low budget cinematography brought out its own ‘50s small town ambiance – especially the beachside romance .

There are two delightful moments. When Jack is first scoping out the library, he asks Carol the rules. “No talking!” When sparks begin flying during their oceanside tryst, he asks again. “No talking!”

The DVD copy that I own was rather shabby but serviceable and part of an el cheapo three-movie package yet, despite these faults, the film was 68 minutes of captivating escapism.

Brahms

Symphony No. 2
Bruno Walter conducting the New York Philharmonic; Columbia, ML 5125, 12-inch mono LP, recorded December 28, 1953.

As I get older, I find it impossible to pick my favorite of the four Brahms Symphonies. They are all magnificent creations, each with a distinct quality that contributes to the number of times I listen to them again (not to mention the number of different recordings I own and to which I add).

Unlike the 1st Symphony which took ten years of effort before its 1876 premiere, the 2nd Symphony took final shape during a summer lakeside vacation a year later. The music is serene and comforting overall, although it too has its darker and more melancholy moments.

Bruno Walter (1876-1962) recorded it twice, the remake in stereo with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and free lancers grouped together as the Columbia Symphony and released during the very early ‘60s. It was a poetic approach but lacking a bit too much in muscle and bite.

This week’s record is a different matter. Walter not only communicated the singing qualities throughout but brought to life the lights and shadows of the orchestration that was a major part of Brahms’s genius.He would also impose tempos that might seem too fast but worked in helping the music to sing even more beautifully.

And, despite the New York Philharmonic’s fearsome reputation for chewing up conductors they didn’t like with bad playing and snarky attitudes, they responded totally to Walter’s conducting with their best.

Recommended totally!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Tahra Story

Last Tahra label

by Peter Cates

Tahra Story

Tah 768, one CD, released 2014.

Tahra was a historical CD label started in 1992 by Myriam Scherchen, daughter of the conductor, Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966), and her late husband, Rene Tremaine, journalist, producer and voracious record collector. They started the label as a means of releasing previously unavailable tapes, recordings that had been out of print for decades and some restored material that had wretched sound in their earlier release but now were much improved.

Hermann Abendroth

Although the catalog had several conductors, pianists and string players of significant interest throughout its availability, the couple’s initial focus would be three important conductors- Myriam’s father, Hermann Abendroth (1883-1956) and Wilhelm Furtwangler (1886-1954). I own a sizable pile of their releases and enjoy them thoroughly.

Unfortunately, the decision to end the label, due to several business considerations in 2014, was made and the above CD was its last release.

It was focussed one final time on the same three conductors – Scherchen, Abendroth and Furtwangler, each of whom was a brilliant interpreter of Beethoven. They were also very personalized and individualistic in their conducting styles and gave frequently exciting performances, of which there are five vibrant examples on this CD:
Scherchen conducted a short instrumental piece by the fascinating French baroque composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), Sixieme concert en sextuor , from a 1964 broadcast; and a powerful Schubert Unfinished Symphony, from a long, out-of-print 1960 LP.

Wilhelm Furtwangler

Abendroth was a most adept political survivor under two totalitarian regimes. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Abendroth was resistant to, and highly critical, of the regime; thus he lost one conducting post. By 1937, he had joined the Nazi Party and appointed music director of the Leipzig Gewand­haus.

After the war, he was again dismissed by the recently installed Communist government in East Germany yet within a few short years would be busy doing concerts and recordings mostly in Leipzig and Berlin. After his death, from a stroke he suffered during surgery, he was honored by the East German government with a state funeral.

On this CD, Abendroth conducts the opening Allegro moderato, from Bruckner’s 7th Symphony, in a majestic, truly stirring 1951 broadcast performance.

Hermann Scherchen

Furtwangler is generally the most well-known conductor of the three, even sparking more interest in his many live and studio recordings since his death more than 60 years ago. He had a unique talent for communicating the spiritual essence of whatever musical piece he was conducting, whether it was Mozart or Wagner, and his sizable catalog of CDs is more profitable than that of any other conductor, alive or dead!

He conducts the Beethoven 7th’s joyously jubilant first movement in a 1943 Berlin Philharmonic broadcast and the same composer’s 5th Symphony’s second movement in a 1954 Vienna Philharmonic concert, both renditions typically fascinating Furtwangler tracks.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Movie: Dark Mountain; Composer: Beethoven

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I started collecting records

My first experience of Mozart came with the beautiful set of his 40th Symphony, three Columbia 78s recorded in 1937, that were given to me in seventh grade – I remember to this day the captivating, rolling rhythms of the opening movement. The conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), had a knack, at his best, for making music heavenly sounding and he had a greater number of recordings than any other conductor, during the ‘30s and ‘40s, that were first class in both performance and sound.

Beecham was also quite the wit. A colleague of his, who remembered the conductor dismissing the composer, Brahms, as boring during his youth, noticed years later that Beecham conducted Brahms very well and asked if the latter had changed his mind: “No, Brahms still bores me but he bores me less. ”

Dark Mountain

starring Robert Lowery, Ellen Drew, Regis Toomey, etc.; directed by William Berke; Paramount Pictures; 1944; 57 minutes.

Robert Lowery

Regis Toomey

Dark Mountain deals with a newly promoted forest ranger, Don, who patrols the Dark Mountain region in an unnamed western state. At his boss’s insistence, he takes a long overdue vacation to visit his girlfriend, Kay, with a marriage proposal. However, because Don has been away for months, Kay has married Steve, a very successful businessman and exceptionally considerate husband to Kay.

Don returns early to his job, discouraged; meanwhile Kay finds out hubby Steve is a murderous racketeer and escapes to the mountain to hide, with Don’s help. Steve tracks her and the suspense accelerates. A high speed chase in a car loaded with explosives leads to Steve’s fiery death and a happily ever after for the predictably reunited lovers.

Ellen Drew

Zdenek Kosler

Although the story was ho-hum, I enjoyed certain aspects of this B film – the black and white footage of a forest fire at the beginning, with its quite convincing authenticity; and the classy acting and presence of Robert Lowery (1913-1971) as Ranger Don and the skillful sustaining of charm and menace from longtime character actor, Regis Toomey (1898-1991), fresh from his work in the classic Bogie film, The Big Sleep.

Lowery was later a fixture of ‘50s TV. In fact, I have a still vivid childhood memory of him as a friend of Clark Kent in a 1956 episode of Superman, ‘The Deadly Rock’, in which he too has a dangerous vulnerability to Kryptonite.

Beethoven

Symphony No. 3, the Eroica; Zdenek Kosler conducting the Slovak Philharmonic; DM-2-1009.

Ludwig van B’s 3rd Symphony was such an assertive, heroic, rhythmically-aggressive 45 minutes of glorious, at times noble and sublime music, needing a larger orchestra than the Symphonies 1 and 2 and it has received a fine performance from the late Maestro Kosler and his musicians, one of a very large number of quality recordings, of which I own and cherish dozens of them. It often stimulates the best efforts of players because of its monumental grandeur. And this performance is very cheap when available.

A little quibble. There is no information on the music and, while Kosler’s name is listed in two of the three spots ID’ing the conductor, another gifted maestro, Libor Pesek, has his in the third space. Personally, I believe Kosler is the right name due to its frequency of listing and the driving intensity of the performance while Pesek has a more lyrical poetic approach when he conducts. But I will not be dogmatic here!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Pop Artists

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I started collecting records:

Gustav Mahler

My first encounter with the music of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) occurred during the spring of 1963, when I was 11. That year RCA Victor had developed the Dynagroove recording process, initially releasing 10 LPs with both mono and stereo editions, and touting the enhancement as the greatest advance in sound since the electrical microphone in 1924 during the 78 days. I remember salivating over the record ad in the Portland Sunday Telegram advertising the black label pop and red label classical items, wanting all of them and worrying about whether I would like the music later. In those days, I considered any LP from RCA Victor and Columbia as a status symbol, just as I did the huge Magnavox cabinet with radio, phonograph, and color TV and the Thunderbird convertible. I was definitely a crass materialist in those days – money was everything!

Meanwhile, RCA released a $1 album, entitled The Sound of Tomorrow, which was heavily advertised on Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Disney, RCA being its sponsor, but also in Buick ads, as RCA forged a deal with the auto company for its dealerships to be the exclusive venue for purchasing the record. Naturally, one afternoon, Mom drove me to Waterville’s own Buick dealer, then owned by a family friend, Nick Saporita, and located on Silver Street, and I took my copy home to play on the $32 manually operated RCA Victor stereo player. The machine was given to me as a birthday present but I was given to understand that it was the family player. Such double-dealing was then common as part of family sharing.

Side one had the black label, thereby providing the following five pop artists:

  1. Peter Nero, a most agreeable pianist who would sneak in quotes from classical pieces as part of his usual pop program.

    Peter Nero

  2. Marty Gold, a very gifted pop arranger/ con­­ductor who worked for both Victor and Kapp records.

    Marty Gold

  3. Hugo and Luigi, a duo of producers and arrangers for the Roulette and Victor labels, specializing in records of very pleasant chorus and orchestral selections.
  4. Dick Schory, a soft jazz arranger.

    Dick Schory

  5. Sid Ramin, a jazz arranger/ conductor with imagination and taste who helped Leonard Bernstein with orchestration during the Broadway run of West Side Story.
    The second side red label featured the following five fine artists:
  6. Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Boston Symphony in the second movement of the Mahler 1st Symphony. Finally, this joyous Scherzo was my first hearing of the music of a composer who previously had just been a slightly intriguing name in a Columbia Record Club booklet. Leinsdorf at that time was beginning what would be seven years as Boston’s Music Director.

    Erich Leinsdorf

  7. Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops. This orchestra would make many records featuring both pop and the classics while Fiedler had formidable talent, wide-ranging musical curiosity and taste and astute political and business skills.

    Arthur Fiedler

  8. Robert Shaw Chorale. Like Arthur Fiedler, Shaw was a very gifted orchestral conductor but his fame lay in the many records with his chorus and training choirs all over the world. His Christmas album from the late ‘40s, Joy to the World, is still available on CD and sounds great with its a capella singing.

    Robert Shaw

  9. Charles Munch with the Boston Symphony. Munch spent 13 very exciting years in Boston, made a lot of great records and retired in 1962, being replaced by Erich Leinsdorf.
  10. Leontyne Price was one of the finest sopranos who ever lived and possessed a voice with both power and beauty during her thankfully long prime, giving goosebumps to many, including myself.

My second Mahler record wouldn’t be added to my then very small collection for three years due to very limited cash and the distractions of other composers!

REVIEWS: Bandleader: Spike Jones; Composers: Telemann & Maurice Ravel

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records, Part 7

As I slowly edged into liking classical music, via cartoons and storybook records, I remember Beethoven being the first composer to grab my attention, through two symphonies – the 5th and 6th, better known as the Pastoral. The great conductor, Bruno Walter (1876-1962), would be the first to give me the intensive exposure to both pieces. Mom owned a 78 set of Walter’s 1941 5th, a very satisfying performance full of conviction and spirit.

My Uncle Paul Cates owned an LP of the sublime Bruno Walter/Philadelphia 1946 Pastoral that he left at the family homestead along with a pile of other interesting disks while he lived in West Berlin for much of the ‘50s and ‘60s. I played that record many times while visiting Grammie Cates. My introductions to the beauties of the composer’s Emperor and Violin Concertos followed within the year.

Spike Jones

Spike Jones

Thank You, Music Lovers
RCA Victor, LPM-2224, recorded 1960.

A dozen of Jones’s wacky, weird 78s, featuring spoofs and putdowns of musical classics, such as Der Fuehrer’s Face, William Tell Overture , You Always Hurt the One You Love, My Old Flame, etc.; have been re-recorded in better sound and provide fun similar to Frank Zappa’s shenanigans from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Telemann

George Telemann

Concertos for Oboe, 2 Flutes and Orchestra; Suite for Recorder and Orchestra
Kurt List and Zlatko Topolski conducting the Austrian Tonkuen­stler Orchestra; various soloists; Musical Heritage Society, MHS 743, recorded 1967.

George Philip Telemann (1681-1767) was quite the prolific composer, much of his music, whether sacred or secular, very pleasurable. This assortment of works are the most beguiling listening experiences I have encountered in a very long time, and receive top notch performances. During his lifetime, he achieved far greater popularity than his friend, Bach.

Maurice Ravel

Bolero, Rhapsodie Espagnole, La Valse and Scheherazade Overture
Jean Martinon conducting the Orchestre de Paris; Angel, S-37147, recorded 1975.

Maurice Ravel

Most every recording of Jean Martinon (1911-1976) that has come my way has given enduring pleasure, whether Beethoven or the Rus­sian, Sergei Prokofiev. His career as the conductor of the Chicago Symphony after succeeding the phenomenally brilliant Fritz Reiner was cut short mainly by hostile music critics.

However, he returned to Paris and recorded a series of LPs devoted to the complete works of Debussy and Ravel that were superbly balanced, tasteful and yet musically alive examples of really great conducting. And the above record was every bit as fine as the others I have heard.