REVIEWS: Crumb, Beethoven & Carl T. Fischer


by Peter Cates


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 !


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.

REVIEWS: Composer: Mozart; Composer: Tchaikovsky; Singer: Jacqueline Francois


by Peter Cates


Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat Major for Violin, Viola and Orchestra; Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, French horn, Bassoon, and Orchestra- various soloists, Armin Jorad conducting the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Musical Heritage Society- MHS 4739H,  12-inch stereo LP, recorded April, 1980.

A very fine LP of two of Mozart’s most appealing works and given  very fine performances. Two of several of Mozart’s works that make splendid introductions to the classics. The writer of the liner notes recounted how the assigned conductor of the Sinfonia for woodwinds misplaced the original score, forcing Mozart to recopy most of the music from memory.


Symphony No. 4.
Herbert von Karajan conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra; English Columbia 33CX 1139, mono LP 12-inch record, recorded 1953.

Tchaikovsky’s endlessly compelling 4th Symphony has received many good to great recordings, of which I own a sizable pile. Examples: Bernstein, Ormandy, Kubelik, Stokowski, two Karajans, Albert, three Markevitches, two Mravinskys, Munch, Monteux, Reiner, Abravanel, Ozawa, Abbado, Pletnev, Muti, Rozhdestvensky, Rostropovich, Valek, Termikanov, Ivanov, Masur, Barenboim, Malko, Bernstein, Hollreiser, Freccia, Maazel, etc.

In 1946, Karajan became the conductor of the  Philharmonia Orchestra, an ensemble in London mainly created to make records, and to perform at concerts only secondly. K and a couple of other conductors turned it into a group second to none, while he made many of his finest records during his entire career, the above disc being a prime  example. All of these early LPs have been made available in cd box sets that are quite inexpensive!

Jacqueline Francois

Columbia WL 178, mono 12-inch LP, recorded approx. late ‘50s.

By the end of World War II, France’s most popular pop singers were Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet. But when the 24-year-old Jacqueline Francois (1922-2009) entered the formidable arena, her talent, charisma and musicianship was akin to a firestorm. Within a month of her first record, she won the Grand Prix du Disque, the French equivalent of the Grammy.

A head’s up – the prospective listener should know French to fully enjoy this record of standards, although the melodies of Fascination and La Mer or Beyond the Sea should be familiar to seasoned fans of ‘50s pop music.

For certain listeners as myself, no need to understand the language in order to enjoy Francois’ phrasing, pacing and delectable voice plus the polished orchestral arrangements of Paul Durand. A delightfully different type of record.

REVIEWS: Composer: Edvard Grieg; Conductor: Karl Bohm; Singer: Johnny Mathis


by Peter Cates
Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg

Robert Riefling

Piano Concerto
Lou Shankson, piano, with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Royale 18163, 10-inch vinyl LP, copyright 1956.

This infinitely lovely Concerto of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) receives a really good performance, but not from the above listed parties, which are pseudonyms. Research in recent years now identifies the team as Norwegian pianist, Robert Riefling (1911-1988), with the Oslo Philhar­monic under the direction of Odd Gruner-Hegge (1899-1973).

Rief­ling was imprisoned in a concentration camp for 3 to 4 years when Norway was under Nazi occupation.


Missa Solemnis

Karl Bohm

Karl Bohm

Karl Bohm conducting the Vienna State Opera Chorus and Philharmonic; DG 2707080, 2 stereo LPs, recorded 1975.

This mammoth epic from Beethoven’s last years, when he was totally deaf and willingly living in a hovel, is one grand listening experience in which even a newcomer to classical music could be inspired without any prior study. The great conductor, Karl Bohm (1894-1981), drew an exquisite performance from everyone involved here .

There are numerous, inexpensive offerings of the set, in both LP and CD formats, available through different Amazon vendors.

Johnny Mathis

Chances Are/The Twelfth of Never
Columbia 4-40993, seven-inch 45 vinyl record, recorded 1957.

Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis was 19 years old when he was discovered singing in a nightclub by Columbia records executive George Avakian (still living at 98) in 1954. Avakian was totally convinced he had heard a singer whose success would know few bounds and he was proven right – in later years Mathis would chart five albums simultaneously in Billboard, surpassed here only by Sinatra and Barry Manilow.

The two hits were also great songs given great performances, with Ray Conniff’s vibrant arrangements, similar to the ones he provided for Marty Robbins’s Story of my Life and White Sportscoat and Pink Carnations.

At 82, Mathis has reduced his concert schedule to ONLY 50 to 60 appearances a year.

My copy of the 45 is the briefly used yellow label from the mid-’50s with the four Columbia eyes. Collectors are particularly enamored of two-, four-, and six-eye mint copies of Columbia 45s and 10- and 12-inch LPs from the ‘50s and ‘60′, especially classic rock and jazz.

NCIS – right now my favorite Netflix show, mainly because of Mark Harmon’s LeRoy Jethro Gibbs character – what a role model for so many of us!

REVIEW POTPOURRI, Week of June 22, 2017


by Peter Cates

Bach Suites 2 and 3

Fritz Rieger conducting the Munich Philharmonic- Mercury MG10068, vinyl lp, from 1940’s German radio broadcast tapes.

Fritz Rieger

These two Orchestral Suites of J.S. Bach constitute some of the most joyous, very melodic and quite listenable music, both for newcomers to classical music and experienced connoisseurs who already find them infinitely re-listenable. The Second is scored mainly for strings and solo flute and has been recorded by such gifted tootlers as James Galway and Jean Pierre Rampal. The Third is a festive affair evoking the spirit of a holiday in which the entire orchestra, particularly the brass and percussion, display their wares. However, a special quieter movement is the soothing and delectable Air for the G String.

Fritz Rieger (1910-1978) was conductor of the Munich Philharmonic for over 25 years, beginning in 1941, before he took a position with the down under Melbourne Symphony in the land of duck-billed platypuses and Aborigines. (For those readers who are wondering about Munich, 1941, yes he was a member of the Nazi Party. But there is documentation that he kept his own hands clean and was de-Nazified quickly.)

The performances are very graceful and grandiose, truly living breathing renditions of an exceptional quality while the mono sound is vivid for its day, as German radio had magnetic tape several years before we did !

I have collected other recordings of Rieger and enjoy them a lot – the complete Mozart Magic Flute, Brahms 1st Concerto with pianist Witold Malcuzynski and the Robert Schumann A Minor Concerto with Rudolf Serkin. YouTube has several Rieger items, some of which I have posted recently, including an early ‘70s video of the Maestro rehearsing a Bach Concerto for 4 Pianos with three other now deceased conductors, Rafael Kubelik, Rudolf Kempe and Wolfgang Savallisch.

Against All Odds

Jeff Bridges

Rachel Ward

Soundtrack- composed by Michel Colombier; Atlantic 80152-1-E, stereo LP, recorded 1984.

I have never seen this Jeff Bridges/ Rachel Ward thriller but, having read the Wiki synopsis, am now curious. The soundtrack itself is a first class mishmash of instrumentals underscoring the action and individual tracks by Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks, Big Country, Mike Rutherford, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and, last but not least, the sublime Phil Collins hit, Take a Look at Me Now. The instrumentals by Colombier and Larry Carlton are powerful and soaringly eloquent. Recommended listening.

Bennie Moten

Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz- X- EVAA-3004, ep 45 reissue, early ‘50s from Victor shellac 78s recorded December 13 and 14, 1926, in Chicago.

Bennie Moten

Bennie Moten (1894-1935), led an outstanding Kansas dance band that was, arguably, the most popular one in that burg for much of the 1920s and early ‘30s until Moten’s tragic 1935 early death from a botched tonsillectomy. The four numbers on this 45 – Kansas City Shuffle; Yazoo Blues, Midnight Blues, and Missouri Wabble – make for compelling listening. Every note is alive, every texture well articulated and the variety of sounds coming from my speakers, ranging from the spunky banjo picking of Sam Tall to the brass shadings of cornettists Ed Lewis and Lamar Wright; trombonist Thamon Hayes; and Abe Bolar on tuba, etc., gives this record its status as a classic.

Composer: Ludwig von Beethoven; Dance Band: Russ Morgan; Vocal group: Peter, Paul and Mary


by Peter Cates


String Quartet No. 13, Op. 130 – Quartetto Italiano Angel 35064, 12-inch LP, recorded early ‘50s

Ludwig von Beethoven

Ludwig von Beethoven

The 16 String Quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) constitute some of the composer’s most powerful and beautiful music, especially the last five. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 were composed between 1823 or 1824, during a time when Beethoven was plagued by total deafness, a parasitic nephew, bad health, money, personality conflicts, the filth of his living quarters and other manure piles of aggravations, once in a while alleviated by a good day or two.

These Quartets mirror the manic ups and downs, victories and defeats and sideways in a most compelling, stirring manner. Among the paradoxes of Beethoven were the obstacles of his daily life, ones in which he either lacked the ability or willingness to confront; versus the discipline to compose not only the above Quartets, but also such creations as the 9th Symphony and Missa Solemnis while totally deaf.

The 13th Quartet is as good an example as any to begin with; I would suggest, especially to beginning listeners, to just turn on the music, sit back and let it happen. One can do the studying up later.

The Quartetto Italiano played this music totally by memory for the recording. And it is a very good performance, while the early ‘50s LP
sound is exemplary for its time.

Russ Morgan and his Wolverine Band

Everest SDBR 1095, stereo LP, recorded 1960.

Russ Morgan

Russ Morgan

Russ Morgan (1904 -1969) led one of the best dance bands during the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, until his death. The above LP, however, is a bit more animated than his usual standard. Wolverines being a clue, Morgan assembled a group of some of the finest sidemen active in ‘50s recording sessions, including trumpeter Dick Cathcart, clarinnettist Matty Matlock, guitarist George Van Epps, saxist Eddie Miller, etc. The rousing program includes such oldies as Mama’s Gone, Goodbye; Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home; That Da-Da Strain; Squeeze Me; etc., while the jacket is provided with informative notes by Morgan’s wife, Shirley, and son, David. Worth the search.

Peter, Paul and Mary

Warner Brothers, WS1449, stereo LP, recorded 1962.

Peter, Paul and Mary

PPand M were, arguably, one of the finest musical vocal groups in any genre. This first of several great albums during their initial seven- or eight-year run (followed by solo outings and intermittent reunions) still holds up incredibly well as a listening experience, even for myself who is no longer a folkie. My personal favorites are, and will always most likely be, 500 Miles, Its Raining, Cruel War and If I Had My Way, especially with the late Mary’s eloquent, haunting gifts of both phrasing the melodic line with both P’s deploying their own harmonies or vice versa.

Finally, their gifted music director, Milt Okun, who whipped the Chad Mitchell Trio into pristine shape for their own several Mercury albums, carefully and methodically honed, nurtured and led them to a level of success they would most likely have never achieved if they had been on their own.

Composer: Giacomo Puccini; Singer: Burl Ives; Composer: Johann S. Bach; Organist: Robert Elmore


by  Peter Cates
Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini


Madame Butterfly Selections
Arthur Pryor’s Band; Victor – 31697, 12-inch one-sided black label acoustic shellac 78, recorded approximately between 1905 and 1913.

Several shellacs from the pre-1924 acoustic era feature symphonic bands doing very nice performances of operatic excerpts. Arthur Pryor’s Band left one devoted to the matchless melodies from the opera, Madame Butterfly, of Giacomo Puccini (1857-1924) and is recommended heartily to collectors of early acoustic band disks.

Burl Ives

Burl Ives

Burl Ives

Songs of the West
Decca – DL 4179, mono LP, recorded 1961.

Burl Ives applies his Down Comforter of a voice to a dozen western classics – Home on the Range, Mexicali Rose, Cool Water, Jingle, Jangle, Jingle, Empty Saddles, etc.- and has the arrangements of Decca’s late, great Nashville A t R man, Owen Bradley, and the Anita Kerr Singers, both uncredited on this album.

My absolute favorite, one I have played many times with pleasure, is The Cowboy’s Dream, with its gospel message and the exquisite, separately recorded, different harmonies of Anita and her colleagues added gradually in each of the choruses. Recommended!

Bach on the Biggest

Robert Elmore, organist; Mercury SR90127, stereo LP, recorded 1956.

Johann Bach

Johann Bach

Organist Robert Elmore (1913-1985) was recorded on November 23, 1956, playing the Auditorium Organ of the Atlantic City Convention Hall. To call this instrument a behemoth of Great White

Robert Elmore

Robert Elmore

Whale proportions would most likely be an understatement. Its volume alone is equal to that of 25 brass bands; 225,000 feet of lumber was used in its construction, including 10,000 just for the 12 pipes; and the hall itself is more than 13 stories and occupies four city blocks.

Elmore’s playing of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major and Sleeper’s Awake and In Dulci Jubilo Chorale Preludes is both magnificent and magnificently recorded. A record worth seeking out!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Dick Kuhn and his Orchestra; Death of a Salesman; Handel


by  Peter Cates

Dick Kuhn and his Orchestra

Wild Flower; Bambalina- Decca -3723, ten inch blue label 78 disc, recorded March 25, 1941.

Dick Kuhn

Dick Kuhn

There is very little information to be gleaned anywhere on bandleader Dick Kuhn, he starting his own band while in high school being about the only morsel uncovered.

It would perform in the tradition of such dance bands as those of Guy Lombardo, Sammy Kaye, Griff Williams and Lawrence Welk, but with more animation, intelligence and nuance. Kuhn was also quite gifted as a saxist.

The orchestra could be seen during the late ‘30 New York City’s Times Square and heard regularly on the very popular radio station, WOR; it recorded a batch of 78s for Decca, Mercury and a couple of lesser known labels in its ‘30s and ‘40s heyday.

The Decca blue label 78 series was spearheaded by company manager Jack Kapp around 1936 or ’37 as a catalog of 35 cent records, as opposed to the dollar records of the major competitors, Victor and Columbia; it soared in sales when the dads all across the country would send their kids to the record shop every week with a dollar for the latest three releases (Within at least two years, Victor would respond by launching its own 35 center, Bluebird, and Columbia, Okeh).

A quartet of popular song lyricists/composers are credited with the above two selections, Wild Flower and Bambalina — Otto Harbach (1873-1963), Herbert Stothart (1885-1949), Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960), and Vincent Youmans (1898-1946) . As to why so many talents were assembled for these two songs, anyone’s guess is as good as mine, but this record is quite pleasant to listen to, with an added vocal trio.

When Herbert Stothart visited Scotland in 1947, he suffered a heart attack and later wrote a symphonic piece for orchestra- Heart Attack: A Symphonic Poem, about his tribulations. He started another piece, Voice of Liberation, when he died of cancer at the age of 63, in 1949.

Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller; written in 1949. Arthur Miller (1916-2005) wrote such classics of the theater as The Crucible,which dealt with the evil of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials; and All My Sons, which confronted the profiteering of the munitions industry.

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

The main character, Willy Loman, threw himself into being a salesman who was liked; the problem was that this goal was the only one that truly mattered. Then, when his company started squeezing him out gradually because his sales had gone down, he fell to pieces.

Reading this play, one not only feels the injustice, the anger, the terrors at the heart of our lives that bring us down when bad things happen, but also the flaws in our character, that contribute to it. Finally,

Miller leads us to care for Willy as a fellow human being and to feel his suffering as though he were a long time friend! And it holds up so well with re-reading!

Handel – Semele

Anthony Lewis conducting the English Chamber Orchestra and Saint Anthony Singers with various soloists; L’Oiseau-Lyre OLS- 111-3, three 12-inch stereo vinyl LPs, recorded 1955.

George Handel

George Handel

George Frederick Handel wrote one big beautiful opera here with arias, more choruses than normal in an opera and bracing orchestration; it was premiered in 1744 during Lent and was received with very mixed feelings. After several performances during the remaining 15 years of the composer’s lifetime, it would not be heard again until an English revival in 1925; since then, it has slowly made its way to a significant repertory status.

Its story line features an illicit attraction between the betrothed Semele and the god Jupiter, with tragic consequences.

The above set was its first recording and, to my mind, is very good. I would especially cite two women who gave master lessons in expression, articulation, and breathing – soprano Jennifer Vyvyan (1925-1974) and alto Helen Watts (1927-2009).

Only the LP set is available through Amazon vendors, no CD transfer having ever been made.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Kodaly, Ella Fitzgerald, & The Pelican Brief


by  Peter Cates


Hary Janos Suite; Respighi: Feste Romane- Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra; RCA Victor LM-1973, 12-inch vinyl mono LP, released 1956.

Zoltan Kodaly

Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) was, arguably, one of the four best known conductors of the 20th century, the others being Leopold Stokowski, Arthur Fiedler, and Leonard Bernstein (these three definitely being subjects for later columns.) . That said, it now occurs to me I did a column devoted to the Maestro’s wide influence a while ago. Therefore, I move on to this week’s record.

The featured pieces are the Hary Janos Suite, composed in 1926 by Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), and Feste Romane, from 1928 and composed by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) . Along with his lifelong friend, Bela Bartok, Kodaly was one of Hungary’s two best known 20th century composers. Hary Janos is a mythical character who proceeds to run off with Napoleon’s wife, Marie-Louise, and unleashes a series of near-lethal events before he miraculously makes things right. The Suite is a colorful piece of orchestral virtuosity.

In 1959, Kodaly’s first wife of 48 years died; he then married a 19-year-old student, with a 58 year age difference, and both were one happy couple (supposedly) until his own death in 1967, one year after a concert tour in the U.S.
Respighi’s Feste Romane evokes the spirit of Roman history from ancient times onwards – the spiritual pilgrimages to the Holy City, the romance of October Festival, the Circuses with their just plain fun-loving folks taking in the feasting of savage lions on the martyrs, etc.

Both works have immense potential appeal for beginning classical listeners and Toscanini’s conducting bristles with excitement.

Ella Fitzgerald

with Nelson Riddle’s arrangements and conducting; Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson; Verve V6-4054, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded 1962.

Ella Fitzgerald

The words Swings Brightly do not hint at the supremely splendid, vibrant excitement of this album. As far as I am concerned, Ella Fitzgerald sings renditions of the 12 songs contained here that have been rarely surpassed by anyone for power, beauty, elegance and all the other grossly overused synonyms for musical pleasure; and Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are those of once in a lifetime. Simply try Duke Ellington’s I’m Gonna Go Fishing, which I shared on my fb home page from YouTube, where it can be easily heard!

Pelican Brief

starring Julia Roberts, etc.; directed by Alan J. Pakula; Warner Brothers, 1993, 141 minutes.

Two Supreme Court justices of radically different ideologies are murdered on the same day. Thus no common thread is found to launch any type of investigation, until a Louisiana law student, Darby Shaw (played by Ms. Roberts), shows a brief to her professor who passes it along to a friend at the Justice Department.

Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts

All hell breaks loose for her – her car explodes, killing her professor inside who was borrowing it; she is pursued by killers from out of nowhere and doesn’t know who to trust. It’s 141 minutes of cat and mouse paranoia adding up to a most entertaining film. The late Hume Cronym does a captivating turn as one of the two murdered judges.

REVIEWS: Composer: Jean-Baptiste Loeillet; Film: Carousel; Conductor: Gennady Rozhdestvensky


by  Peter Cates

Jean-Baptiste Loeillet

Jean-Baptiste Loeillet

Sonatas; Trio Sonatas; and Lesson for the Harpsichord
Pierre Pouleau, recorder; Andre Chevalet, oboe; and Yvonne Schmit, harpsichord. Music Guild MS-113, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, released 1965.

One of a select group of baroque composers who wrote truly beautiful music for both the flute and recorder, Jean-Baptiste Loeillet (1680-1730) was born in Belgium, became a very talented player on the flute and harpsichord during early childhood, and traveled to England at 25 years old where he settled for life. He composed mainly for the flute, taught and arranged concerts for the wealthy, through which he became financially quite comfortable.

The performances are superb, and, fortunately for those with a record player, the album is still available through several Amazon vendors for prices starting at six dollars.


starring Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Cameron Mitchell, etc.; directed by Henry King; 20th Century Fox, released June, 1956.

Gordon MacRae

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel began as a hugely successful Broadway musical in 1945, but its transformation into a film shot in exquisite living color, and with better singers, superior orchestration by Alfred Newman and, for most of the film, the backdrop of our own Boothbay Harbor, turned it into a true cinematic classic – worthy of the several best film lists it has made. It and the 1945 State Farm are my two favorite R & H films.

Shirley Jones

The manner in which the movie segues at the beginning from a mundane conversation in heaven to the glorious Carousel Waltz is a case in point. Three of the greatest songs in Broadway musical history – If I Loved You, When the Children Are Asleep, and You’ll Never Walk Alone – are given the best performances they have ever received in the most pleasing seaside settings. The choreography along the marina and, later, on a lonely beach are dazzling set pieces of limber, supple virtuosity. And watching Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones and Barbara Ruark singing in their prime is a singular pleasure!

Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique

Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducting the USSR Radio Symphony Orchestra; Eurodisc 201 984-250, 12-inch stereo LP, recorded 1967.

The conductor, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, is, at 85, one of the more accomplished and interesting conductors to have emerged since the early ‘60s. First, he is accomplished because he was barely 22 years old when he was scoring successes in his appearances with various major Russian orchestras and both the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet through live appearances and recordings. He also has upwards of 1,500 musical works of a wide range of composers committed to memory. Finally, all of the recordings I have heard of his are consistently good, unlike several of the shining stars of the firmament of today. And I own at least a shelf of them.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Secondly, he is interesting because of the manner in which he conducts. I once saw him live in Boston’s Symphony Hall back in ’73 when he was on tour with the Leningrad Philharmonic (now, since the fall of the former Soviet Union, referred to as the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic.). That evening, he used very precise but conventional gestures.

However, I have seen footage of him not conducting the orchestra at all while it is playing but walking around the stage smiling a lot, yet barely moving his arms. Other times, he has been known to flail his arms without the baton or grabbing it with both hands effortfully, as though it weighed 50 pounds. Still, he gets quality work while being the ham!

The Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique is one of my favorite works to collect in duplicate recordings and, it being a special favorite, I own at least 40. Rozhdestvensky’s LP is good but not great. My absolute favorite is the 1975 recording of Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic has been available through Amazon and its vendors as a CD for years and, more often than not, inexpensive. The third movement, Scene in the Fields, has rarely sounded more serene or sublime while the fifth movement’s Dream of a Witch’s Sabbath is most colorful and ominous.

REVIEWS: Musician: Aladdin; Music Maker: Artur Rubinstein; Recording Artists: Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius


by  Peter Cates

Words of Inspiration

by Aladdin
Dot DLP 3570, mono LP, recorded early ‘60s.


Aladdin Ahmed Abdullah Anthony Pallante (1912-1970) was best known as a regular on the Law­rence Welk Show from 1953 to 1967 and a talented violinist, comic foil for novelty songs and skits and reciter of inspirational verse. This LP features him in some of his most popular recitations – Why Do I Love You?, Deck of Cards, A Cowboy’s Prayer, Windows of Gold and Touch of the Master’s Hand. Each one is accompanied by some of the most beautiful music performed exquisitely by Welk’s instrumentalists.

Five used copies of the LP are available from three different Amazon vendors, ranging from $5 to $20.

Aladdin suffered a heart attack in 1967, resigned from the show and died in 1970 at 57.

Artur Robinstein

Complete Polonaise and 4 Impromptus
Artur Rubinstein, pianist; RCA Victor LM-7037, two mono LPs, recorded 1965.

Artur Rubinstein

Artur Rubinstein (1887-1982) was a great player, not only of Chopin, but also Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, etc., and my shelves bear witness with 78s, 45s, LPs and CDs. His happy go-lucky personality and sociability at more parties than one could shake a stick at belied his purposeful discipline and very high standards.

However, he admitted in his memoirs that, before he turned 42, he caroused most of his days away until he had a very serious inkling that his talent was being squandered. Fortunately, he regrouped and became the much-loved music maker for the remaining 50 years of his life.

The performances are, of course, top-notch, and these pieces, with their infinite range of mood, will repay concentrated listening. A must set for Chopin fans!

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius

I’ll Never Be Free
RCA Victor APL1-2781, stereo LP, recorded 1978.

In recent years, I have become a fan of the late country singer Jim Ed Brown (1934-2015) and own a batch of recordings covering three major phases of his career and focus-first, with sisters Maxine and Connie as The Browns from the early ‘50s until 1967; then on his own from ’67 until ’75; and finally part of a duo with Helen Cornelius from ’75 until she ended the partnership in ’81.

Jim Ed Brown

At first, Brown was skittish about pairing up with anyone, but RCA A&R man Bob Ferguson prevailed with his idea that Brown and the then unknown Helen Cornelius (1941-) might be a good fit. He proved right; the two blended exquisitely and this album is one lovely disk. The ten selections are new to me but not one of them is a dud.
My absolute favorite, one I have played over and over again, is Lay Down the Burden of Your Heart. It never fails to provoke goosebumps!

Helen Cornelius

On June 4, 2015, country legend Bill Anderson presented Brown with the medallion for inclusion in the Country Music Hall of Fame, in the presence of family and friends, at his hospital bedside as he was dying from cancer; then everyone sang Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Brown passed away on June 11, at 81.