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!


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