REVIEWS: Bandleader: Spike Jones; Composers: Telemann & Maurice Ravel

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

How I Started Collecting Records, Part 7

As I slowly edged into liking classical music, via cartoons and storybook records, I remember Beethoven being the first composer to grab my attention, through two symphonies – the 5th and 6th, better known as the Pastoral. The great conductor, Bruno Walter (1876-1962), would be the first to give me the intensive exposure to both pieces. Mom owned a 78 set of Walter’s 1941 5th, a very satisfying performance full of conviction and spirit.

My Uncle Paul Cates owned an LP of the sublime Bruno Walter/Philadelphia 1946 Pastoral that he left at the family homestead along with a pile of other interesting disks while he lived in West Berlin for much of the ‘50s and ‘60s. I played that record many times while visiting Grammie Cates. My introductions to the beauties of the composer’s Emperor and Violin Concertos followed within the year.

Spike Jones

Spike Jones

Thank You, Music Lovers
RCA Victor, LPM-2224, recorded 1960.

A dozen of Jones’s wacky, weird 78s, featuring spoofs and putdowns of musical classics, such as Der Fuehrer’s Face, William Tell Overture , You Always Hurt the One You Love, My Old Flame, etc.; have been re-recorded in better sound and provide fun similar to Frank Zappa’s shenanigans from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Telemann

George Telemann

Concertos for Oboe, 2 Flutes and Orchestra; Suite for Recorder and Orchestra
Kurt List and Zlatko Topolski conducting the Austrian Tonkuen­stler Orchestra; various soloists; Musical Heritage Society, MHS 743, recorded 1967.

George Philip Telemann (1681-1767) was quite the prolific composer, much of his music, whether sacred or secular, very pleasurable. This assortment of works are the most beguiling listening experiences I have encountered in a very long time, and receive top notch performances. During his lifetime, he achieved far greater popularity than his friend, Bach.

Maurice Ravel

Bolero, Rhapsodie Espagnole, La Valse and Scheherazade Overture
Jean Martinon conducting the Orchestre de Paris; Angel, S-37147, recorded 1975.

Maurice Ravel

Most every recording of Jean Martinon (1911-1976) that has come my way has given enduring pleasure, whether Beethoven or the Rus­sian, Sergei Prokofiev. His career as the conductor of the Chicago Symphony after succeeding the phenomenally brilliant Fritz Reiner was cut short mainly by hostile music critics.

However, he returned to Paris and recorded a series of LPs devoted to the complete works of Debussy and Ravel that were superbly balanced, tasteful and yet musically alive examples of really great conducting. And the above record was every bit as fine as the others I have heard.

 
 

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