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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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 !


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.


The Four Seasons


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


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.