REVIEWS: Singer: Pat Boone; Guitarist: Jim Hall; Book: Roosevelt and Hopkins

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records, Part 4.

Pat Boone

Around 1957, I discovered the resounding voice of the then 23-year-old Pat Boone and the beginning of a spurt of hit 45 singles that sustained him until 1960. The first one that I heard from off the radio was the riveting Don’t Forbid Me (although I would not own a copy of this record for at least another 30 years).

During the next six years, I would assemble a batch of 45 singles and extended plays; and LPs, featuring both the top 40 moneymakers and selections that didn’t sell as well. Among the hits were There’s a Goldmine in the Sky; April Love, which is arguably one of his three finest; A Wonderful Time Up There; With the Wind and Rain in Your Hair; For My Good Fortune; I’m Walking the Floor Over You; Speedy Gonzalez; Dear John; etc.

There were also two LPs that perhaps weren’t mega sellers but, for me, are still worthy of the occasional spin – Star Dust, which is devoted to the classic Great American Songbook and has such standbys as Deep Purple; Ebb Tide; St. Louis Blues; Autumn Leaves, and the title song; and Hymns We Love, an album easily equal to the sacred music ones of George Beverly Shea and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Finally, Boone had the arrangements of the gifted Billy Vaughn.

The black label with the rainbow colored letters was also an attractive feature and a reason why I have gathered an array of 45s, LPs and one 78 by Dot artists from various rummage sales over the years, as well as specimens of the earlier maroon label. Part 5 next week!

Jim Hall

Concierto
CTI- ZK 65132, cd, recorded April 16 and 23, 1975.

Jim Hall

The very superb jazz guitarist, Jim Hall (1930-2013), brought together a who’s who of jazz talent to create one of a handful of truly beautiful, mellow and, most importantly, musically substantial albums to be heard anywhere. The standouts are trumpeter Chet Baker, who had almost a decade left of concerts and recordings before he self-destructed from his drug addictions at an Amsterdam hotel in 1988; alto saxist Paul Desmond, who died in 1977 from lung cancer but would especially be remembered for his over 15 years with the Dave Brubeck Quartet; and bassist Ron Carter, still alive and well at 80.

The gem in this program is the 20 minute Don Sebesky arrangement of Rodrigo’s already exquisite Guitar Concerto, one in which everyone in the group plays their heart out. Totally recommended and available for listening on youtube !!!

Roosevelt and Hopkins

An Intimate History
by Robert Sherwood; Harper and Brothers, 1948, 934 pages.

I am in the process of reading this magnum opus on Franklin Roosevelt’s closest personal advisor, Harry Hopkins (1890-1946 , who was pulled out of the New Deal bureaucracy to serve at the President’s beck and call for most of World War II. Whatever Hopkins lacked in any real background in the diplomatic or military spheres, which his boss supplied on a personal level, he made up in the intuition department- truly knowing when to speak and when not to, skills FDR prized above everything else. The President so valued Hopkins that he moved him and his family into a suite in the White House so as to have instant access.

The fascination of this relationship is written with storytelling prowess by Robert Sherwood, a playwright who served on Hopkins’s team and was a close friend. The inevitable panorama of five to six very tumultuous years in the White House, ones not matched since, are presented in a comprehensive manner. Many famous players such as Churchill, Stalin, and others; the endless intrigues; the horrific decisions and their context – are all served up in such a compulsively readable manner that may lead to at least a month of all-nighters!

REVIEWS: Composer: Johannes Brahm; Film: Hitch, starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records — Continued!

Along with the Burl Ives records, there were others given to me. Numerous titles from such labels as Golden Records, Peter Pan and Children’s Record Guild abounded. I remember a Johnny Ray Columbia 45 hit — Just Walkin’ in the Rain – that I heard a lot on the radio. One day Mom bought me a copy of it — my first example of owning a record I had already grown to like from listening to the radio but far from being the last one.

Although I didn’t add any more of Ray’s records until more than 40 years later, I continue to regard him as an intriguing singer with a very individualistic style of delivery. I would also recommend watching the Jack Benny skit on YouTube, in which the comedian visits the singer’s home, as one of the funniest ever produced! (To continue next week…)

Brahms

Piano Quintet
Leon Fleisher, piano, with the Juilliard String Quartet; Odyssey Y 35211, 12- inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded early ‘60s.

Johannes Brahm

This composition was originally scored and performed as a Quintet for five string players and a Sonata for two pianos but Brahms and his two closest friends, violinist Joseph Joachim and Clara Schumann, widow of the great composer, Robert Schumann, felt something was missing. It was then rescored for piano and four string players and became a success that continues to be performed to the present day, with a large number of fine recordings.

It has a kind of special beauty, rhythmic power and sense of tragedy that combine into a unique musical experience. The pianist Leon Fleisher and his Juilliard colleagues gave their all, making this recording one that will reward numerous hearings.

Hitch

starring Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Allegra Cole, etc.; directed by Andy Tennant; Columbia Pictures; 118 minutes; 2005.

Will Smith

Eva Mendes

This film deals with the activities of a matchmaker, Hitch (Will Smith); his would-be girlfriend, Sara (Mendes), who is also a gossip columnist; a paunchy, klutzy stockbroker, Albert (James) ; and Albert’s girlfriend of a lifetime, Allegra (Valletta), who is beautiful, filthy rich, and very down to earth, an unusual combination. The stars do magnificent work in a very funny film, my favorite being Eva Mendes, who, as Sara, does a wonderful scene of emotional vulnerability in opening up to Hitch about her childhood when she felt really hurt – the kind of honesty in acting that is so rarely seen at anytime in a film of today without the hysterics.

In other words, one superb film!

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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.)

Prokofiev

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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!!

Haydn

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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!

Mozart

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Brahms

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Beethoven

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.

Berlioz

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.

Rimsky-Korsakoff

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

Rimsky-Korsakoff

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.

Beethoven

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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.

Mozart

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.