by Peter Cates
After the Ball
Joan Morris, soprano, with William Bolcom, piano. Nonesuch H-71304, stereo LP, recorded 1974.
Joan Morris and her husband, William Bolcom, have been serving up records and concerts for over 45 years since the early seventies, their specialty being popular songs and composers from the Civil War to the ‘50s Lieber and Stoller. One album spotlighted Henry Clay Work, who wrote My Grandfather’s Clock.
The above set collects classic and not so classic vaudeville hits – Meet Me in Saint Louis, I‘ve Got Rings on My Fingers, the title song, my special favorite Love’s Old Sweet Song and ten others – and Joan Morris gives her charming colorful soprano best with her husband’s skilled keyboard. Their approach is that of the Sunday afternoon drawing room or parlor at Aunt Blanche’s but it is one making for great listening, in small doses!
Debussy: Sonata for Cello and Piano; Busoni: Kleine Suite, Op. 23; Foss: Capriccio for Cello and Piano – Gregor Piatigorsky, cello; Lukas Foss, piano; RCA Victor, LM-2293, mono LP, recorded 1958.
Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976) was a bear of a man in his physique as well as being one of the 20th century’s truly fine cellists and turning out recordings characterized by a special kind of electrifying intensity and sublime beauty. Two special favorites are his early ‘40s Dvorak Cello Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and the two Brahms Cello Sonatas from the ‘70s with pianist Artur Rubinstein.
This week’s record contains the listed works by four quite gifted and interesting modern composers. However, my favorite piece is the just over 10 minute Debussy Cello Sonata, one of the most beautiful examples of quiet sweet subtlety, mystery and bursting rhythm ever written by anyone and performed in the most alive, exciting yet delicate manner by the cellist and his partner, composer/pianist Lucas Foss.
RCA Camden, CAS-961, stereo LP, recorded 1966.
This batch of ten ‘60s Latin-American tunes, including the two classics, Spanish Eyes and Spanish Harlem, is arranged and performed by a studio group of carefully handpicked instrumentalists under the noted pop conductor, Leo Addeo, in an understated manner that is pleasant but not moving.