As Christmas approaches, we will feature some famous vocal performances of Christmas carols by famous singers of the past, such as Jussi Bjorling, as well as orchestral performances of works associated with the Christmas season.
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
John Frayne's weekly exploration of memorable recordings from the 20th century
saturdays at 11 am on fm 90.9 and 101.1
Handel's Messiah is probably the most often-recorded Baroque work (after Vivaldi's Four Seasons). The commentary about what version to perform is immense and controversial. Older recordings resemble Victorian performances with gigantic choruses. In recent decades, leaner, authentic instrument performances have become more popular, and there are recordings in between the extremes. We will sample old and newer performances.
Beethoven's Violin Concerto premiered in 1806. After a slow start, it became in the 19th century one of the most important concertos in the violin repertory. In the days of 78 rpm recording, great violinists were eager to get their interpretations on discs. We will hear how Fritz Kreisler, Josef Szigeti and Jascha Heifetz played it.
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness ..." As befits the second day after Thanksgiving, we will play some music of the season of autumn, of the gathering of harvests and the expressing of thanks.
One of the outstanding chamber ensembles of the early 20th century was composed of the great cellist Pablo Casals and two outstanding French musicians, the violinist Jacques Thibaud and the pianist Alfred Cortot. Together they recorded in the 1920s and 1930s some of the classics of the piano trio repertory. We will sample some of their recordings.
Vox Records was the bargain hunter's dream label from the 1950s on. On this label you heard of conductors whose names you had never encountered before, but after playing those records, their names lingered in a corner of your mind. Jonel Perlea, Jascha Horenstein, Michael Gielen, the list could go on and on. We will journey back onto Voxland, when records were $1.98, and turned at 33 1/3.
Christopher Hogwood, pioneer of the original-instrument, authentic-performing-style movement, passed away recently at the age of 73. Hogwood, with his Academy of Ancient Instruments, recorded, with original instruments, an enormous quantity of the music of the Baroque Era. His many recordings of the music of Haydn and Mozart were also received with enthusiasm.We will sample some of the voluminous output of that trailblazing conductor.
Everyone went to the movies in the 1930s and 1940s, and such is the power of Hollywood that it was inevitable that classical music would eventually go the movies. On spectacular example was Walt Disney's "Fantasia," employing the master showmanship of Leopold Stokowski. Also, the 1947 film "Carnegie Hall" showcased Stokowski as will as virtuosos Jascha Heifetz and Artur Rubinstein, among others. We will sample some music from those films.
Richard Strauss was fortunate to attract many virtuoso conductors to interpret his tone poems. Strauss' brilliant orchestration challenged the skills of world-class orchestras. We'll hear some of the many successful recordings of the Strauss tone poems by the 1930s by such conductors as Mengelberg, Koussevitzky and Stokowski.
If a concerto with a famous soloist is a sure-fire draw at a concert, then one would think that a concerto with two soloists would be a bigger draw. Not so. The more soloists, the less attractive the concerto, except when the concerto is by Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms.We'll look at some famous recordings of double and triple concertos.