REVIEW POTPOURRI: CD – Mozart Sonata in F Major; Two very bad records

Peter Catesby  Peter Cates

Mozart Sonata in F Major

K. 497; Fantasy No. 1 in F Minor, K. 594; Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 358- Artur Balsam and Gena Raps, pianists; Arabesque Records – Z6635, CD, recorded June 15-18, 1992.

This CD features three of nine compositions that Mozart scored for four hand piano. He created the genre during a 14-month stay in London at the age of nine; there, he wrote a piece to perform in public with his sister, thus creating a new type of repertoire that would prove fertile ground for Schubert, Brahms, Dvorak, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and others.

Artur Balsam

Artur Balsam

My wonderful friend, Gena Raps, and her mentor/colleague, Artur Balsam (1906-1994), have selected the above-listed repertoire and give solid performances . Among Balsam’s bountiful experiences are several years touring with violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, during the ‘30s and recording batches of lesser known Mozart, Haydn, etc., for the Concert Hall, Musical Masterpiece Society and Musical Heritage Society labels between tthe 1950s and ’70s.

I recommend this very enjoyable CD to both beginning collectors and the most seasoned connoisseurs.

Two very bad records,
for different reasons

Arthur Godfrey

For Me and My Gal; Too Fat Polka- Columbia 37921, 10-inch 78 shellac, recorded 1947.

Arthur Godfrey (1903-1983) achieved an astounding popularity as a radio/TV talk show host, emcee, talent scout and formidable power broker throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s, mostly at CBS. His main gift was connecting with each listener, as though he was talking just to him/her personally, the friendly neighbor dropping in for a visit beaming with good will, affability and humor. At his peak, he had two daily programs and a weekly evening one.

Arthur Godfrey

Arthur Godfrey

Unfortunately, he was often a different man off the air – controlling, vindictive, not very nice. He fired his most popular regular, singer Julius La Rosa, mostly because La Rosa’s fan mail exceeded that of Godfrey’s, and did the firing on live TV. That may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back because Godfrey’s own popularity began waning afterwards.

His 1947 record of Too Fat Polka, a very very, very bad song, and For Me and My Gal, a mildly pleasant oldie, sold millions of copies, thus indicating a vast liking of Godfrey’s very four square singing.

Electronic Pioneers

music by Bolent Arel, Mario Davidovsky, Kenneth Gaburo, and Vladimir Ussachevsky and recorded at the electronic music centers of the University of Illinois and Columbia University; CRI 356, 12-inch vinyl LP, released 1976.

This week’s second very bad record is this group of so-called musical compositions, which is generated by gongs, voices, instruments, oscillators and other such sources, to create, to my admittedly very biased ears, a lot of auditory hokum. I do hope others curious enough to check out these works might find “meaning” and I will leave it at that!


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