REVIEWS: Composer: Prokofiev; Film: Baby’s Day Out


by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records- Part 2!

With respect to the Burl Ives 78s discussed in last week’s column, I had the privilege of interviewing the head producer for Columbia’s popular records division and later tv sing along personality, Mitch Miller (1911-2010) in 1992 at Houston’s Lancaster Hotel. When I inquired about the records, he replied that he was present during the 1949-1950 recording sessions and commissioned many of the songs from songwriters. Also the men’s chorus supporting Ives were later members of Mitch’s tv sing along gang ! (Part 3 next week.)


Romeo and Juliet
Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the New York Philharmonic; Columbia MS 6023, 12-inch vinyl stereo LP, recorded 1958.

Dimitri Mitropoulos

Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) was yet another of several gifted conductors, alive and dead, who are on my list of favorites. He spent nine years, 1949-1958, as music director of the New York Philharmonic. Here he encountered much disrespect, back biting and other forms of nastiness from players, critics, board members and, most of all, from his successor, the far more well known Leonard Bernstein, who routinely undercut him any way he could while publicly proclaiming the older man as a beloved mentor and the closest of friends.

Meanwhile, despite this cesspool, he conducted many fine performances of a repertoire ranging from Mozart to 20th century composers such as Copland, Shostakovich, etc. The Prokofiev record of excerpts from his great and very popular ballet is a very exciting one. For those who don’t recognize the title beyond its connection to Shakespeare, certain melodies have used on tv and in movies as background.

In private life, he was a very kind, caring man. In order to help others in need, he lived in a second rate hotel and ate in cheap cafeterias and greasy spoons.; thus his earnings assisted with the basic needs of food, lodging, etc., for those unfortunates who came to his attention. He routinely emptied his pockets for the panhandlers.

Finally, he was a lifelong chain smoker, thus suffering from high blood pressure throughout most of his New York Philharmonic years. Both ironically and sadly, after leaving New York in 1958, he encountered greater respect and opportunities conducting in Europe, but his health problems worsened. On November 1st, 1960, in Milan, Italy, he suffered a fatal heart attack on the podium while rehearsing for an eagerly awaited performance of the Mahler 3rd Symphony.

Baby’s Day Out

starring Lara Flynn Boyle, Joe Mantegna, Joe Panteliano, Brian Haley, Cynthia Nixon, Fred Dalton Thompson, etc.; directed by Patrick Read Johnson; 20th Century Fox, released 1994, 99 minutes.

The plot line of this piece of very light entertainment centers on a most lovable crawler of a baby boy, whose parents are beyond super-rich, and his abduction by three hoodlums, posing as baby photographers. It is quite fun from when the baby crawls off to wander around the city and the three kidnappers unleash a Pandora’s Box of grueling pain trying to get him back.

Two such situations :

A. A gorilla protecting the baby brings his fist down on the kidnapper’s hand when the latter tries to snatch the child .
B. The leader of the gang hides little guy inside his coat when two cops walk over to question him. The baby starts a lighter inside the pants, waving it back and forth in front of the hood’s zippered area.

Great fun, despite the movie itself being a box office failure in the US!

REVIEWS: Conductor: von Karajan; Novelist: Arnold Bennett; Film: Four Brothers


by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records! (Beginning a series of weekly paragraphs.)

The first records I ever owned, at 2 years old, were Columbia yellow label 10-inch 78s – three in number – all featuring Burl Ives applying his warm, cuddly baritone to such titles as The Little White Duck; Lollipop Tree; Old Witch, Old Witch; The Little Engine That Could; and several others. I discovered the thrill of ownership, of music being transferred from a round circulating disc through a needle to a speaker and of the escape to be had from the mundane everydayness of one’s life that could creep in at any moment!!


Paris and London Symphonies
Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic; DG -477 7917, six CDs, recorded 1981-82.

Herbert von Karajan

I have had a long listening love/hate relationship with Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989). He could do a performance that would send one into clouds of bliss, such as, for example, a mid-’60s Deutsche Grammophon LP of Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons. Then an early 1980s digital recording of the Holst Planets that would drive one crazy with its bombastic slickness and superficiality, as if he didn’t give a hoot !

Hearing the above set of 18 of the most beautiful symphonies Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) ever composed, I wanted to take back every bad response and rehear the bad records. These symphonies each have captivating opening movements; playful and heart-warming Andantes, Adagios and Allegrettos, often with a little joke thrown in; cheerful Minuets; and perky, snappy Finales. They rank among the select group of musical works that are truly life-affirming, thus making this box of CDs a genuine bargain of under 20 bucks in several venues I have checked.

Arnold Bennett

Imperial Palace
published 1930, 625 pages.

Arnold Bennett

For me, Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was one of the most consistently readable and enjoyable novelists, as well as critics and essayists, of a generation of English writers that include such powerful names as Joseph Conrad, John Galsworthy, and Ford Madox Ford. Bennett’s gift was in re-creating the lives of middle- and working-class folks, but he could do memorable rich individuals too.

Imperial Palace would be Bennett’s last novel. Consisting of 625 pages, it would be his longest as well. Focusing on a luxury hotel modeled after London’s Savoy, it chronicles the type of panorama one would expect as its inner workings, but told mainly through the eye of its manager, Evelyn Orcham, and a meticulously competent one at that!

The reader encounters a most memorably depicted array of characters and situations. In fact, there is not a dull page in the book due to Bennett’s extraordinary story-telling skills at placing one in the novel as the proverbial fly on the wall. One scene that will always stick in my mind is a breakfast meeting between Orcham and a multi-billionaire in the latter’s private suite. I could feel the hearts of both men beating throughout this early morning chess game.

Totally recommended to anyone who enjoys a first class, old-fashioned reading experience!!

Four Brothers

starring Mark Wahlberg, etc. 2005.

Mark Wahlberg

A woman is murdered at work during a hold-up. Her four grown-up adopted sons inevitably investigate the circumstances and take joint action. This is a very entertaining revenge film, shot – no pun intended – mainly in Detroit!

REVIEWS: Singer: Yvonne Elliman; Conductor: Antal Dorati


by Peter Cates

Yvonne Elliman

If I Can’t Have You; Good Sign
RSO, RS 884, seven-inch vinyl 45 record, recorded 1977.

Yvonne Elliman

Yvonne Elliman (1951-) first raised the goosebumps on my arms during a chance hearing of the then newly-released Jesus Christ Superstar, back in November 1970, via a friend’s set, followed shortly by the purchase of my own copy. However, it would be played so often during the next several months that I grew so sick of it I couldn’t listen to it for at least 30 years (A similar experience occurred with my copy of Carole King’s Tapestry. I still can’t stand Tapestry but I can rehear JCS occasionally now with fresher, more mature ears!)

If I Can’t…. is a superb number composed by Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibbs, or the Bee Gees, and performed with finesse by Elliman but the flip side, credited to the very gifted team of Carole Bayer Sager and Melissa Manchester, left me cold !

This year, as Elliman was preparing for an appearance in Guam, she was arrested for the possession of marijuana and other drugs and is still in custody!


Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music)
Linz Symphony; Antal Dorati conducting the London Symphony; Mercury SR 90121, 12-inch stereo LP, recorded early ‘60s.

Antal Dorati

Antal Dorati (1906-1988), along with Herbert von Karajan, Leopold Stokowski, Arthur Fiedler and Eugene Ormandy, were the five most prolific conductors when it came to the number of recordings bearing their names, in each case, well above six hundred. Of course, there is no way I can hear all of them; also, the ones I have heard over the last 50 years have inspired mixed reactions from boredom to riveting. But, during the last two years, I have developed an interest in his conducting, as far as a thorough reconsideration of the recordings I didn’t like earlier and an eagerness to hear ones I don’t own.

I experienced this change of heart when I read a piece on the Maestro in which the record reviewer Richard Freed discussed how Dorati’s consistently high standards and thorough musicianship had borne fruit in every recording the critic had heard thus far. I found it especially edifying because I had always enjoyed Freed’s individualistic discernment, combined with a voracious determination to hear every classical record coming his way. And Dorati was the only conductor who could do no wrong in his eyes.

Secondly, a group has sprung up in England that is determined to release every studio and live recording bearing Dorati’s name, whether it be the rarely heard 7th Symphony of Alan Pettersson or six different Berlioz Symphonie Fantastiques; they have developed a catalog of formidable size and temptation. If I were 40 years younger, I would make a mad attempt to collect it all!

The Mozart 36th, or Linz, Symphony is one of my half dozen favorites of the Austrian genius. Its leisurely lyrical outpouring of the sweetest melody is unequaled by #s 35 and 38-41, as special as they are. Dorati’s rendition is both leisurely paced but rhythmically incisive.

The accompanying Nachtmusik is a very popular work elsewhere but, unfortunately not one I have liked much in recent years; however, Dorati conducted a most satisfying performance that has me enjoying its beauties once again.

Composer: Brahms; Composers: Mendelsohn & Beethoven; Guitarist: Big Bill Broonzy; Band leader: Glen Gray


by Peter Cates


Two Piano Concertos
Dimitris Sgouros, piano, with Emil Tabakov conducting the Sofia Philharmonic; 1 plus- 51 000; 2 CDs, recorded 1999.

Sgouros plays with commendable musical feeling the two very powerful Concertos, still among my top five in this genre. Tabakov and his players provide exciting support, making this a reasonably priced and desirable album for getting to know Brahms through some of his very best music.

Mendelssohn and Beethoven Violin Concertos

Joshua Bell, violinist, and Sir Roger Norrington conducting the Camerata Salzburg; Sony-SK 89505, CD, recorded 2002.

These two Concertos are basic also to a classical CD collection because of the sweet melodic appeal of both works. Bell and Norrington give a top notch collaboration.

P.S. Norrington blew opportunities for repeated engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra because he showed up for a rehearsal dressed in shorts, sandals and a T-shirt, thus repelling most of the much more modestly dressed players.

Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy

Bad Acting Woman; I’m Woke Up Now
Okeh, 6724, ten-inch 78, recorded early ‘40s.

Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958) came out of a share croppin’ background and preaching to become one of the finest writers and performers of blues from the ‘20s through the ‘50s, living in Chicago for many of those years and recording pile discs for a sizable number of labels. The above two songs are typical of blues – the treacheries of love relationships, addictions, employment problems, etc. And there is always the lament of Woe Is Me !

Broonzy was a true artist – he knew timing, delivery, drama, and context. And the record is a treasure!

Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra

Bei Mir Bist Du Schon; Let’s Make It a Lifetime
Decca 1575, ten-inch 78, recorded December 1, 1937.

My three favorite big bands are those of Woody Herman, Harry James and Glen Gray – the last of whom made more sweet music than swing, unlike the other two. I own a number of his blue label Decca 78s (the ones that originally retailed for 35 cents a platter) and later LPs for Capitol, Hindsight, Harmony, etc.

This record contains a good rendition of the Andrews Sisters’ megahit, Bei Mir Bist du Schon and a very nice ballad that I was previously unfamiliar with, sung wonderfully by one of Gray’s lead singers at the time, Kenny Sargent. What gives this record and others of Gray is the classy intelligence and good taste in the arrangements. There are not the trite notes, the bombastic sounds and the simply bad material that so often bedevil certain other groups that will remain unnamed. I return to the Grays, the Hermans and the James’s for repeat hearings with pleasurable anticipation.

REVIEWS: Music director: Archie Bleyer; Film: The Big Sleep


by Peter Cates

Archie Bleyer

Music from the Pajama Game
Cadence, EP 4054/5, two ep 45s, recorded 1954.

Archie Bleyer

After serving seven years as Arthur Godfrey’s music director, Archie Bleyer (1909-1989) was unceremoniously fired almost the same day in 1953 as Julius LaRosa. Meanwhile, Bleyer had founded Cadence records where he would be developing a catalog that would eventually include LaRosa, the Chordettes, Andy Williams, the Everly Brothers, Link Wray and, in 1962, the megahit First Family album, featuring one North Vassalboro native, the late Vaughan Meader, whose day in the limelight ended, of course, on November 22, 1963.

The 45 rpm set under consideration this week features Bleyer, with his orchestra; the Ray Charles Singers, who backed up Perry Como on his own RCA records and TV shows for ten or more years; and singers Stephen Douglass, Dorothy Evans and Arthur Malvin, performing eight songs from the 1954 musical, Pajama Game, later even better known as a 1957 film with Doris Day and John Raitt. Two songs from the musical were hit records on their own – Hernando’s Hideaway for Bleyer and Hey There for Rosemary Clooney.

The renditions here of these superb songs were spirited in the best sense of the word. Some of them can also be heard on YouTube.

A P.S.- Bleyer got married to one of the Chordettes, Janet Extel, while both parties were still working for Godfrey, thus violating the boss’ rule about dating fellow employees – a factor most likely contributing to Bleyer’s dismissal!

The Big Sleep

starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers, Elisha Cook Jr., Bob Steele, John Ridgeley, Dorothy Malone, etc.; directed by Howard Hawks; Warner Brothers, released August 23, 1946, 114 minutes.

Humphrey Bogart

In terms of the number of times I have watched this film since my first viewing at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Brattle Street Theater in May 1974, the Big Sleep is my favorite from the peak film noir period from the mid-’40s through the ‘50s, when the detective movies and TV shows had a combination of quantity and quality that would remain unmatched to this day.

Humphrey Bogart may have given his best performance as the cynical, ever chain-smoking, always reparteeing detective Philip Marlowe. When he visits the very rich, but ailing General Sternwood (portrayed most movingly by the veteran stage and screen actor, Charles D. Waldron, just two years before his own death at 71), and is asked by the gentleman how he likes his brandy, he replies, “In a glass!”

Within ten minutes of the visit, Marlowe meets the general’s two daughters – the eldest, Vivian, (Lauren Bacall,) who , as described by her father, is “spoiled, exacting, ruthless”; and the youngest, Carmen, (Martha Vickers,) a quite promiscuous, addicted-to-dope loose cannon who wreaks much havoc on a regular basis.

The plot initially centers around Marlowe being hired by Sternwood to get a blackmailer to leave Carmen alone, the second such situation she has gotten herself into. And this problem is the most minor of a Pandora’s Box of nastiness involving pornography, deceit, grifters, hit men and at least five murders. And one fun movie!

The acting is masterful throughout all major and minor roles. Max Steiner’s lush soundtrack enhanced the melodramatic scenes in a most riveting manner right up to a truly cathartic climax.

The great Southern novelist, William Faulkner, was one of the three scriptwriters.

REVIEWS: Pianist: Sunwook Kim; Band leader: Count Basie; Conductor: Sir Thomas Beecham


by Peter Cates


Emperor Concerto and Symphony No. 5
Sunwook Kim, pianist (in the Emperor), and Myung-Whun Chung conducting the Seoul Philharmonic; Deutsche Grammophon- 481 031-2, CD, recorded live January 17-18, 2013.

Sunwook Kim

I have lost track of how many recordings I own of both of these Beethoven masterpieces – ones that continue to hold my interest through great, good and bad performances I have heard during the more than 50 years since I first made their acquaintance as a kid. This CD features two very gifted South Koreans applying themselves to the stringent challenge of plumbing for further meaning still – and succeeding wonderfully. The Emperor has the grandeur, elegance, biting drive and sheer beauty but most importantly, the sense of love for every note and the ability to communicate that love to listeners from every man and woman involved in the session. The Fifth has a very special muscle-driven momentum and power communicating its very core. YouTube has a video of two or three different Fifths conducted by Chung, this one among them; it also contains one giving a partial view of the recording of the Emperor Concerto.

Count Basie

Count Basie

Do You Wanna Jump, Children ?
Panassie Stomp. Decca- 2224, ten-inch 78, recorded 1938.

Count Basie’s band was in really peak form when they recorded this late ‘30s pair. Both are swing numbers and demonstrate the technical and musical virtuosity of every player, each of whom was of the highest calibre, and the soulful bluesy eloquence of Jimmy Rushing’s singing. In fact, I do not know of any bad record with Basie’s name. This can be heard on YouTube.


Harold in Italy
William Primrose, viola, with Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the Royal Philharmonic; Columbia ML 4542, LP, recorded early ‘50s.

Sir Thomas Beecham

This is a four-movement symphony with the viola accompanying the rest of the orchestra. It is a beauty with four very musically alive movements, based on Byron’s poem, Childe Harold, but only lightly. The subject is a dreamy traveler drifting around Italy. The scenes include mountain travel, the pilgrims’s procession as they sing an evening hymn, a mountaineer serenading his lady and a gathering of drunken bandits.

Beecham’s performance is a classic but one among several other good performances, many of which, including Beecham’s, can be heard on YouTube!

Rock Group: Beach Boys; Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov; Conductor: Fritz Reiner

Beach Boys

Beach Boys

Beach Boys

Spirit of America Capitol- SVBB 511384, two stereo LPs, released 1975.

Spirit of America collected 23 tracks consisting of earlier Capitol hits that were not part of 1974’s anthology, Endless Summer; it also contained a few album cuts regarded as worthy of inclusion and two rare 45 gems –1969’s Break Away and a very sweet gem from 1965, The Little Girl I Once Knew.

In fact, the entire album is a treasure of very captivating songs, each of which should be accessible for listening on youtube! This group was a major contributor to American music that will live on in posterity.


Leopold Stokowski conducts the Royal Philharmonic: RCA Victor ARL-1-1182, 12-inch stereo LP, recorded 1969.


This piece has not only been recorded dozens of time, but has generated good recordings in almost every instance, at least among the ones I have heard own. The reason may be that players really love playing it and willingly and fully cooper-ate with conductors to achieve the best possible results!

The above is the last recording of at least four different ones that Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977 ) did; his first complete recording appeared in a 78 rpm set in 1927, the ad for it displayed on the back of the 1969 release. And it is pos-itively a joy, with much excite-ment, colorful instrumental detail, pulse and vivid sound and is a great choice for collectors.


Symphonies 1 and 9 Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, with soloists- RCA Victor LSC 6026, two vinyl 12-inch LP, recorded spring, 1961.

Fritz Reiner

Just before the Chicago Symphony 1960-61 season, the orchestra’s music director, Fritz Reiner (1888 – 1963), was struck down severe heart disease but recovered enough to sit in a chair most of the time while conducting. And just in time to conduct the last concert of the season in May, 1961.

The program was the First and Ninth, or Choral, Symphonies, a concert so immensely exciting, stirring, exalting, inspiring — all these superlatives together with others would not begin to touch what people were applauding – and what Reiner drew from all of the players, singers and four soloists that one spring night, according to observers, and while in the frail health that would lead to his resignation in late 1962.

At 6 a.m. early the next morning, RCA Victor recorded the program in which Reiner delivered similar results that can be heard on the above-listed set, one still available on CD and most of it accessible on YouTube!

Singer: Rick James; Singing Duo: Yarbrough and Peoples; Conductor: Igor Oistrakh


by Peter Cates

Rick James

Rick James

Give It to Me, Baby
Don’t Give Up On Love
Gordy, G 7197F, released 1981, seven-inch 45.

Rick James (1948-2004) hooked up with a group known as the Mynah Birds during his adolescence, one of his fellow members being Neil Young. His music career would thrive but also derail often because of his own self-destructive tendencies to live on the edge – his Wiki bio was sordidly interesting. His almost inevitably early death at 56 was due to a heart ailment.

The above two songs, particularly his hit song, Give It to Me, Baby, are more rockish than Motown/Gordy soul and are captivating on a certain level.

Yarbrough and Peoples

Don’t Stop the Music
You’re My Song
Mercury, 45-76085, recorded 1980, seven- inch vinyl stereo 45 record.

Yarbrough & Peoples

Cavin Leon Yarbrough and Alisa Delois Peoples were both born and brought up in Dallas and, were friends since early in childhood, having met while taking piano lessons.

During the mid-’70s, Yarbrough is touring as a pianist, returns to Dallas where he hooks up with Peoples, returns to touring and they sign a recording contract, hitting the big time in a very big way. Don’t Stop the Music is a compelling soul and dance record, incisively arranged and recorded.

In 1987, after 10 years of success with several more 45 singles and albums, they get married and decide to leave the rat race of Los Angeles and constant touring to return to Dallas. Since then, they continue to write, produce, mentor younger talent and perform, contributing immeasurably to their hometown’s musical enrichment.


Sinfonia Concertante

Igor Oistrakh

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; Viktor Pikaizen, violin; Igor Oistrakh, viola, and conducting the Moscow State Philharmonic; Westminster Gold EGS-8343, LP, recorded June, 1971.

Two of Mozart’s most important works are coupled on this LP and feature very lively, vibrant performances from two of Russia’s finest string players, Viktor Pikaizen and Igor Oistrakh, son of the late great violinist, violist and conductor, David Oistrakh, Igor being as good in his own way as his father in all three instruments.

The two sides of both 45s and the Mozart Sinfonia that are reviewed above are available for listening on YouTube. The Eine Kleine Nachtmusik conducted by Igor Oistrakh is not available but one recorded by his father David Oistrakh is posted along with several other recordings.

Singing Duo: The Captain & Tennille; Novelist: Graham Greene


by Peter Cates

The Captain and Tennille

Love Will Keep Us Together/Gentle Stranger
A t M- 1672, seven-inch stereo vinyl 45, recorded 1975.

The Captain & Tennille

This highly successful duo, married for 39 years until 2014, were both keyboardists, Toni Tennille playing with the Beach Boys for one to two years and jokingly referred to as the only Beach Girl in its history! Meanwhile Daryl Dragon was the son of the Capitol records conductor, Carmen Dragon, whose LPs have given me much listening pleasure for over 40 years.

Love Will Keep Us Together was not only a megahit for Daryl and Toni but a first class Neil Sedaka composition superbly arranged and performed. Finally, one of my favorite five sides from the ‘70s. The B side went in one ear and out the other!

Graham Greene

The Human Factor
a novel; Avon paperback, 1978, 302 pages.

Graham Greene

I am an admirer of Graham Greene the writer, 1904-1991, and have been since I read the 1951 End of the Affair 40 years ago. I just finished the above novel for the third time, itself one that has also stood out in my mind since my first reading of it, almost 40 years ago just after its publication. Both books deal with different forms of treachery, a favorite Greene theme; the compulsion to do it; the knowledge of its terrible effects, not only on one’s life but the lives of those one loves; and, in the end, the sense one has been damned irrevocably in the aftermath.

End of the Affair dealt with a selfish, very hateful man who has an affair with a friend’s wife, won’t take no for an answer when she ends it and causes a tragic death through his manipulative behavior.

The Human Factor deals with two intelligence clerks for England’s MI6, its own CIA, who read and assess mostly minor stuff from branch offices around the world; they are friends, but soon run into trouble when the boss spies smell a leak. The older friend, Castle, is a traitor; the younger colleague, Davis, is not but he is reckless, drinks and talks way too much and take reports out of the building to read at lunch. To protect himself, Castle deviously sets up Davis, and more treachery with a high cost in relationships with family and friends ensues.

Greene further had a unique gift for filling an often ordinary scene with fear, simply by using a tinkling cocktail, a damp morning waiting for a bus or noticing a butterfly struggling to fly on a village green picnic.

To close with a quote: “From the window on the 12th floor of the great gray building, Castle could see the red star over the University. There was a certain beauty in the view as there is in all cities at night. Only the daylight was drab.” There is very little comfort in the fiction of Graham Greene and what little there is will quickly prove an illusion.

REVIEWS: Soprano: Teresa Stich-Randall; Composer: Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller; Author: Evan Eisenberg


by Peter Cates

Teresa Stich-Randall

Preiser 93458, CD, recorded July 31st, 1956.

Teresa Stich-Randall

Born and raised in Connecticut, Teresa Stich-Randall (1927-2007) had a major career of over 30 years, starting in the U.S. but mainly centered in Europe, as a soprano performing opera, and other forms of vocal classical music. To me, her fame is well deserved, she being one of a handful of sopranos who provide genuine pleasure through their recordings – because she avoids the cloying vibrato that turns, not only sopranos, but mezzos, altos, tenors, baritones and basses into very painful listening ordeals. She conveys the beauty in what she sings, rather than indulging in being a histrionic nimcompoop in how she sings!

The above CD is a collection of lieder, or classical songs by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Debussy, 21 in all and each one a gem. She collaborates with the exceptionally phenomenal conductor, Hans Rosbaud (1895-1962), who swaps his conducting baton for the piano, performs with once-in-a-lifetime musicianship, sensitivity and beauty and leaves me wondering why he didn’t play the keyboard much more often. I posted Brahms’s Mondnacht on my Facebook page from YouTube, which should still have it !

A couple of little tidbits – Stich-Randall was a holy terror about exact punctuality for her voice lessons while Rosbaud mastered five instruments and relaxed by reading ancient and modern classics, in the original language.

Fats Waller

1935; Classics 746, CD.

Fats Waller

The phenomenal Fats Waller (1904-1943) was a masterful composer, orchestra leader, classical and jazz organist, pianist and one very entertaining singer. The 22 shellacs on this CD are all first class, with not a single dud among them, and remastered skillfully.

Evan Eisenberg

The Recording Angel
Penguin, 1987, 256 pages.

Evan Eisenberg

I had high hopes for this book when I forked over four bucks for it some months back. Superficial dipping into it led me to a story about Clarence, who collects records while living just barely on $270 a month and they consume his house with only minimal living space.

Such stories are few. Eisenberg devotes most of the book discussing how records have changed the way we listen to, and relate to, music. But he uses endless quotes from, and paraphrasing of Plato, Aristotle, Schopenhauer, etc., to discuss the endless byways of music for several centuries in an overblown manner that makes this book tiresome most of the time as a reading experience.

But it got glowing reviews from many critics.