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

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

MozartMozart

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.

Tchaikovsky

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.

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