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.

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

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.

REVIEWS: Singer: Gloria Gaynor; Composer: Rachmaninoff; Singer: Perry Como

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Gloria Gaynor

I Will Survive
Substitute; Polydor PD 14508, stereo seven-inch vinyl 45, released 1978.

Gloria Gaynor

Born in 1949, Gloria Gaynor grew up in Newark, New Jersey, living in poverty but commenting in her memoirs about a happy childhood with food on the table, lots of laughter and music emanating from the radio and phonograph. She mentioned Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan as her favorite singers, while acknowledging her father’s example as a guitarist and ukulele player in local clubs.

Gaynor and the late Donna Summers are two disco singers I enjoy a lot from the disco era, one I otherwise avoid and the 45 for this week contains two superb hits. A great one from the ‘70s.

Rachmaninoff

2nd Piano Concerto
Franck Symphonic Variations – Alexis Weissenberg, pianist, with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic; Angel S 36905, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded 1973.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

For anyone trying to pick just one recording of the Concerto or Symphonic Variations that would stand repeated hearings and give consistent satisfaction in the long run, this pairing, which is currently also available in CD or streaming format, is totally recommended. The late pianist Alexis Weissenberg (1929-2012) played with a refined, exquisite and powerful level of excellence while Herbert von Karajan’s conducting achieved depths of beauty beyond even his own usual level of excellence.

The Rach 2nd does not seem to be available presently in CD form but it might be found by scouring various CD websites. And, both it and the Franck can be heard via YouTube !

Perry Como

You Alone; Pa-paya Mama;
RCA Victor, 20-5447, 10-inch shellac 78 record, recorded 1953.

Perry Como

I have written about the great Perry Como (1911-2001) previously in this column, I find the two selections above very captivating novelty songs that were justifiably hits, and I wish also to cite the gifted arranger, Hugo Winterhalter (1909-1973); his charts for Como, the Ames Brothers, Buddy Clark, Jaye P. Morgan, Eddie Fisher, etc., gave these artists a quality of beauty, excitement and class that was priceless.

All of the above recordings can be heard on YouTube!

REVIEWS: R&B performer: Roy Brown; Singer: Billy Joel; Pianist: Valentina Kamenikova

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Roy Brown

Roy Brown and New Orleans R & B; JSP Records JSP7756, four CDs, Recordings from mid-’40s to early ‘50s.

Roy Brown

Three New Orleans musical legends are given major representation in the above collection. They are Roy Brown (1920 or ’25-1981), Dave Bartholomew (1918-), and Professor Longhair (1918-1980), each of whom contributed songs, vocals and instrumentals, and troubleshooting mentoring to the rich soil of rock, rhythm and blues, pop soul, and other elements still influencing a specifically American music and the more famous men and women of splendid talent who have shared it through concerts and recordings.

Singer Roy Brown wrote one song, Good Rockin’ Tonight, that didn’t take fire in his 1947, 78 rpm, but did well for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Springsteen, etc.

Dave Bartholomew, the only one of the three still living at 98, was a producer for Imperial records, where he wrote Fats Domino’s megahit, Ain’t That A Shame, but left in a huff after falling out with the owner.

Pianist and singer Longhair wrote many songs for others and would be remembered for them, but more for his uniquely funky performances.

Two CDs contain 50 sides of Brown; one CD allotted to 25 Bartholomews and one to 26 Longhairs.

Billy Joel

River of Dreams; Columbia CK 53003, CD, recorded 1993.

Billy Joel

This album was put together during a period of upheaval for Joel – including dealing with an embezzling manager/brother-in-law. It would also be the last studio recording of original material.

I have never been an avid Joel fan but I respect his gifts as a singer/songwriter/musician. Finally, I am deeply moved by three of the songs here – the title one, Lullabye and 2000 Years, each a genuine beauty.

Tchaikovsky

Piano Concerto No. 1

Valentina Kamenikova

Valentina Kamenikova, pianist, with Jiri Pinkas conducting the Brno Philharmonic; Supraphon 1 10 1043, twelve inch stereo LP, recorded 1970.

Those who have read me in these pages since I began nine years ago, especially with any interest in classical music, know by now of my sometimes voracious interest in collecting different recordings of the same piece and the Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto being one of my favorite collectibles. I have even lost track of just how many I own.

Valentina Kamenikova (1930-1989) was born in the Ukraine, but ended up spending most of her life teaching in the former Czechoslovakia and concertizing behind the Iron Curtain. Although she was barely known in the West, she had a large following in Eastern Europe. One facebook friend, who is also a pianist and lives in Prague, has texted about Kamenikova with admiration.

Her playing was more self-contained than that of more famous virtuosos, such as Horowitz, Emil Gilels, Rubinstein and Shura Cherkassky, each of whom applied the grand, sometimes barnstorming approach, but it was quite elegant and connected in a most personal manner with each note (I admit to loving this piece so much that I have found every recording that is on my shelf at least containing some interesting quality, even if it’s just a few minutes.).

Unfortunately, it has been out of print for several years and may be hard to find but copies do show up on Amazon and Ebay and in more unexpected places. I found mine at a Maine barn sale.

REVIEWS: Music: Robert Farnon, Thomas Tallis & Vinyl

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Robert Farnon

Robert Farnon Concert
London, LPB 126, ten inch vinyl mono LP, recorded 1949.

Canadian-born, composer/conductor Robert Farnon (1917-2005) recorded numerous albums of the most imaginative mood music arrangements, a quality of work equalled, in my experience, only by Percy Faith, Paul Weston, Nelson Riddle, and Andre Kostelanetz. The above disc contains five of the man’s own compositions – Rudolf Friml’s classic Donkey Serenade, Vincent Youman’s captivating The Carioca and the Viennese operetta composer, Robert Stolz’s intriguing Persian Nocturne.

My special favorite here was Farnon’s wistful How Beautiful is Night; judging from the number of yts presenting this song, it seems to have been very popular. One of the posts is a 1971 rare 45 featuring Tony Bennett, with Farnon conducting, that is recommended listening.

My own copy of the record has the stamp of the long gone Waterville store, A.W. Larsen’s, where I bought a number of records as a beginning collector back in the early-to-mid ‘60s and remember the owner, Al Larsen, as a very nice and helpful gentleman.

Thomas Tallis

Lamentation of Jeremiah
William Byrd: Mass for 3 Voices; Pro Cantione Antiqua, conducted by Bruno Turner; Archiv 2533 113, 12-inch vinyl stereo LP, recorded 1972.

The Pro Cantione Antiqua is a vocal group consisting of nine men, ranging from bass to a very high countertenor. It was founded in 1968, specializing in 15th and 16th century music written for the male voice by English and European composers and have performed in concerts and on recordings umpteen times.

Both of the above works by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) and his pupil/colleague William Byrd (1543-1623) are eloquent examples of what is known as Tudor church music, sung most movingly on this recording. Since the two men lived out most of their working lives under the Tudor monarchy, they experienced the ominously shifting winds of the Protestant Reformation and had to toe the line on English versus Latin texts – Henry VIII’s blood-laden move of spiritual obeisance from the Church of Rome to his own creation of the Church of England; and his own eldest daughter, Bloody Mary, with her terroristic return to Rome. Only with Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1558 and her granting of favor to Tallis, Byrd and other gifted composers were they able to breathe reasonably freely.

An interesting postscript. The conductor Bruno Turner made millions in the wallpapering business after World War II due to the inevitable construction boom, courtesy of the German Luftwaffe.

Vinyl

The Wacky World of Record Collecting
produced by Allen Zweig; released 2000, approximately 2 hours.

Since I own a record collection consisting of over 50,000 items, I was definitely interested in viewing this documentary. I was especially hoping for collectors to share their own specific interest areas, state the specific qualities of a performer or genre that moved them and provide some interesting records to check out.

This would not be the case! Instead Zweig indulges one main obsession rooted in his own habits as a collector – why has he spent so much money, time and energy accumulating thousands of records instead of getting a life, so to speak. He talks about wanting to find a wife, get married and maybe at least having a daughter so he can put together a bicycle for her enjoyment. He is even honest enough to state that he would happily give up all of his records for a family.

Then he does a series of interviews with other collectors – a better term for most of them would be hoarders. One very seemingly calm individual speaks of his desire to own a record of every song written, regardless of language.

Another has gathered every different US release of all Elvis Presley recordings. Using the G.I. Blues album as an example- he would have bought the single 45s, 45 extended play albums (two songs per side), mono LP, stereo LP, four track tape, eight track tape, reel to reel tape, cassette, any anthology containing at least one song from the release, compact disc, video cassette of the movie, laser disc, DVD, Blue ray and any other edition with a different cover, liner notes and photographs. As for releases in foreign countries, he is practical with his money and wants to use common sense. Therefore it would have to contain, again, a different cover, notes, photos and mastering.

Still another hardly plays any records because he lacks the will to move from his chair. Finally, one individual decided one day to get rid of his collection but refused to sell or give it away because he was horrified at the thought of others hearing and owning his records. Instead, he personally threw every record into a dumpster. Afterwards, he felt more relaxed than he had in years.

I should state here that there are “normal’ individuals who have similarly-sized collections (Of course, I am not trying to imply anything with regard to myself – LOL!) .

All in all, the film was both interesting but at times perturbing, to put it politely!

REVIEWS: Actor: Bob Steele; Conductor: Rudolf Albert; Singer: Wilson Pickett

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Rider of the Law

starring Bob Steele, etc.; directed by Robert N. Bradbury, 59 minutes, released 1935.

Bob Steele

Actor Bob Steele (1907-1988) was very well known for the B westerns of the ‘30s and ‘40s, in which he portrayed, more often than not, the hero. Rider of the Law features an Arizona town under siege by a gang of outlaws and, of course, lacking any law enforcement with real spine. A stage arrives with a, to put it politely, wimpy Easterner, who has no clue how to mount a horse, let alone fend for himself. In due time, the newcomer reveals himself, however, to be skilled with both gun, fists and horsemanship, and as the appointed marshal of the town, going undercover to learn the lay of the land. Bob Steele’s characterization of the marshal conveys above-average talent, especially the comic antics he engages in while undercover. Finally, the director of the film, Robert N. Bradbury (1886-1949), was Steele’s father.

All in all, a very compelling film !

Wagner

Rudolf Albert

Tristan and Isolde, Prelude and Liestod; Tannhauser, Overture and Venusberg Music; Counterpoint/Esoteric 5614, stereo vinyl LP, recorded late ‘50s to early ‘60′.

Yet another, very talented conductor from below the radar, Rudolf Albert (1918-1992), showed a gift for alive, exciting recordings of classical works that had been played in concerts and recorded too often; this Wagner program is no exception, definitely worth seeking by interested collectors. I own several of his records and testify to his very high level of work, even more so than some of the so-called “world’s greatest conductors, ” their advantage being better press agents!

Wilson Pickett

The Exciting Wilson Pickett
Atlantic SD 8129, 12-inch vinyl stereo LP, recorded 1966.

Wilson Pickett

The late Wilson Pickett (1941-2006) was not only a hugely successful rhythm and blues singer/songwriter, selling millions of records, but also a gifted one, whose feisty, invigorating delivery, timing and musicianship made so many of his singles and albums, including the above posted one, worth hearing and owning as part of any well-rounded recording collection. Two special favorites are In the Midnight Hour and It’s All Over, both written with Steve Cropper. Finally, the vocal and instrumental support, which included Booker T. and the MGs, was galvanizing.

Pickett died of a heart attack at 64 and Little Richard delivered a eulogy.

REVIEWS: Singer: Eddy Howard; Composer: Vivaldi; Opera singer: Igor Gorin

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Eddy Howard

My Best to You; My Last Goodbye

Eddy Howard

Mercury C-30053X45, seven-inch 45 vinyl disc, recorded March 13, 1958.

The very gifted singer/bandleader, Eddy Howard, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep during the night of May 23, 1963, at the very young age of 48. I have written about him before in these pages and will simply state that his 78s, 45s and LPs of ballads and easy tempo love songs still give me great pleasure, upon re-hearing. The wistful My Last Goodbye and the effusive My Best to You, a re-recording of a 1946 hit, are wonderful examples of what could be described as romantic, late ‘40s to ‘50s pop with touches of real blues.

Vivaldi

The Four Seasons

Vivaldi

Corelli: Concerto Grosso No. 8, in G Minor, “Christmas Concerto”; Pergolesi: Flute Concerto No. 2 in D Major- Karl Munchinger conducting the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and Werner Krotzinger, violin, for Vivaldi; Jean-Pierre Rampal, flute, for Pergolesi; London Treasury Weekend Classics, 417-873-4, recorded 1971, 1961, 1964.

Karl Munchinger (1915-1990) founded the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra just after World War II and led it for just over 40 years, retiring in 1988. I have enjoyed every record of his that I have heard, if not own. These three works are given spirited performances that will give much pleasure to both newcomers to classical music and to seasoned collectors! This recording of Vivaldi’s Seasons is the second of three for London that the Maestro did, each one with a different fiddler. I own the early fifties mono lp, along with the above, which I like better by a tiny margin because of more rhythmic bite.

Igor Gorin

Largo Al Factotum

Igor Gorin, baritone, with orchestra conducted by Howard Barlow; Ol’ Moses Put Pharoah in His Place- Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians; V Disc, no. 563, 12-inch vinyl 78 record, probably recorded during World War II.

Igor Gorin

Igor Gorin (1904-1982) was a popular opera and concert singer on radio during the mid ‘30s throughout the ‘40s and recorded 78s for Victor, starting in 1936. His singing on side 1 of the above record of Rossini’s most famous opera aria is quite good, with a fine accompaniment by an orchestra under the conducting of Howard Barlow, Music Director of the CBS Radio Orchestra from 1927 to 1943.

Side two has the Pennsylvanians under their founder and leader, Fred Waring (1900-1984), giving a most festive rendition of the spiritual Ol’ Moses…, itself of average quality. However, I do own a sizable number of the group’s records for Victor, Decca, Capitol and Reprise; at one point in the forties and fifties, it was the most popular choir in the U.S. and former President Dwight Eisenhower watched its TV show every Sunday night, without missing one episode.

The V Disc label provided records for broadcast over armed forces radio stations and several of them are in my collection.

REVIEWS: Crumb, Beethoven & Carl T. Fischer

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Crumb

documentary film produced and directed by Terry Zwigoff, Sony Films 1994, 120 minutes.

Terry Zwigoff

Terry Zwigoff initially ran into fierce resistance from his otherwise very good friend Robert Crumb, when he proposed the idea of this film. In reply, Zwigoff threatened to commit suicide, thus convincing the artist of the documentary’s viability. During the nine years of production, Zwigoff was living on $200 a month and suffering from pulverizing back pain.

Robert Crumb

Crumb, of course, has been well known since the ‘60s as an underground comic book artist with his own uniquely dark, yet often quite funny vision. He satirizes much of contemporary culture; his own difficult childhood and dysfunctional family; and certain icons of movies and TV. His obsession with the varieties of sexuality have brought both fame and notoriety . No further details needed in a family newspaper .

Throughout the documentary, Crumb’s two brothers, the older Charles and younger Max, are often featured, both of them showing formidable sketching talent. In fact, Zwigoff insisted on the title, Crumb, as a tribute to all three brothers.

Unfortunately, Charles committed suicide two months after the film was completed but Max stopped his pan-handling.

Among other subjects that obsess Crumb is the rural nostalgic American past. This animates his record collecting of old 78s from before about 1935; he owns approximately 6,000 disks of old jazz, blues, hillbilly, gospel, etc. Audio and video offerings on youtube abound that showcase this passion.
A very interesting documentary on an important figure in American art !

Beethoven

Symphony No. 6, Pastoral
Weber/Berlioz Invitation to the Dance- Franz Konwitschny conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus; Weitblick SSS0016-2, CD, released 2001 and consisting of broadcasts from December 10, 1961 (Weber), and October 30, 1958.

Franz Konwitschny

Franz Konwitschny (1901-1962) was one of the great conductors from a past that included such titans as Arturo Toscanini, Fritz Reiner, Otto Klemperer and George Szell, each of whom commanded an infrastructure of fans, critics, the media and record labels, that often blocked out more modest figures of equal talent, such as FK.

This pair of well-known classical masterworks are given performances that engage, captivate and inspire any listener with an open mind and heart. They will also appeal to the possibly jaded, experienced types of listeners/collectors who think there is little left to discover after hearing both pieces ad nauseam numbers of times via concerts and recordings but they couldn’t be more wrong. Konwitschny conveyed a newly minted freshness, almost as if he were discovering them for the first time. His phrasing, tempos, high-lighted details, drawing of sheer sound, etc., add up to a first class CD.

He was also quite the character. He loved the proverbial bottle and was nicknamed Konwhiskey. Once he consumed six bottles of champagne before conducting a highly-successful performance of Richard Wagner’s five-hour opera, Tristan and Isolde.

He would wave to family and friends with a handkerchief right in the middle of conducting a concert. He hated rehearsals but quickly got the orchestra back on track if playing became sloppy.

When he died on July 28, 1962, just short of his 61st birthday, of a heart attack, while on tour with the Leipzig, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, he was given a grand state funeral from the East German government, with massive crowds, ten deep, lining five miles of streets. However, because he was a devout, practicing Catholic, his request for a funeral Mass in his will was honored, much to the chagrin of the Communist leadership.

The Weitblick CDs originated from Japan, are mostly deleted, and tend to be prohibitively expensive on various websites (with a few exceptions). However, the mail order Berkshire Record Outlet has kept a number of Weitblicks, including this week’s post, available for very reasonable prices. For those whose interest in acquiring more Konwitschny recordings is increased after buying and hearing the above Pastoral, they will find not only Weitblicks, but also offerings from such other labels as Memories, Regis, Scribendum, Berlin Classics, etc.

Carl T. Fischer

Reflections of an Indian Boy
Paul Weston conducting his Orchestra; Columbia, CL 788, mono LP, recorded 1954.

Carl T. Fischer

Carl T. Fischer worked for 15 years on this very exciting tone poem for full orchestra, all but completing it just before his death from cancer at age 42 in 1954. Born to Chero­kee parents who encouraged his budding talent, he wrote this piece out of his own experience, imagination and love of traditional rhythms.

The music is melodic and filled with the romantic sweep of such soundtrack composers as Max Steiner, Miklos Rosza and Bernard Herrmann. Examples of the titles include At the Pool, Maiden’s Prayer, Big Brave Song and Ceremonial War Dance. The LP is out of print but can be heard on YouTube in its entirety. Sometimes a copy of the album shows up at a garage sale or used record store, where I found mine.