October 18, 2014

Double and triple concertos

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.

October 11, 2014

Early 20th century French composers

France in the early 20th century had such musical giants as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. But there were also such fine composers as Paul Dukas, Albert Roussel and Florent Schmitt. Some of these, Roussel and Schmitt, recorded performances of their music. We'll sample recordings of such works as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," "The Spider's Feast" and "The Tragedy of Salome."

October 04, 2014

Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink

Bernard Haitink, born in 1929, is now in his 85th year. He is the most famous Dutch conductor since Willem Mengelberg. Over his long career, Haitink has done an enormous amount of recording, with specialties in the music of Bruckner and Mahler.

September 27, 2014

Recordings of Romantic Era piano concertos

With improvements in recorded sound, the decade of the 1930s had many fine recordings of piano concertos of the Romantic era. Pianists such as Arthur Rubinstein, Wilhelm Backhaus, Vladimir Horowitz and Artur Schnabel had their first opportunities to record concertos by such composers as Liszt, Chopin, Brahms and Tchaikovski. We'll sample those recordings.

September 20, 2014

Farewell performances of Mahler

Gustav Mahler died in May1911 before the premieres of his last two masterpieces. It was not until months later that Mahler's assistant, Bruno Walter, conducted the first hearing of The Song of the Earth, and Walter then conducted the premiere of Mahler's 9th Symphony in the following year, 1912. Thus, it is ironic that Walter conducted the first recording of the 9th Symphony in January, 1938, two months before the German annexation of Austria, forcing Walter into exile. We'll play some of Walter's "farewell" performances of Mahler. 

September 13, 2014

Recordings of conductor Eric Leinsdorf

The conductor Eric Leinsdorf had a distinguished career, from conducting at the Met as a young man around 1940, to leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s. Leinsdorf did a large amount of recording, of opera as well as symphonic works. For one reason or another, a good number of these recordings are out of print. We will look at the work of this neglected conductor.

September 06, 2014

Full Frequency Range Recordings

What does the sound of a 1943 German submarine have to do with the sound of a recording of Stravinsky's ballet Petrouchka released in England in 1947? However unlikely, there is a connection, and the connection is the phrase "Full Frequency Range Recording," coined by the British Decca recording company in the mid 1940s. We'll hear more about that  submarine and also Petrouchka and the sound of other early FFRR recordings. 

August 30, 2014

Recordings of conductor Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos

The famous Spanish conductor Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos passed away recently. He was known widely as a guest conductor of orchestras worldwide, and his specialties were Spanish music and the Romantic classics of the 19th century. We will hear this famous conductor in recordings of the music of Isaac Albeniz and Joaquin Rodrigo.

August 23, 2014

Recordings of early music by Archiv Produktion

One of the pioneers in the recording of early music was the Deutsche Grammophon company, which established the subsidiary label, Archiv Produktion, in 1948. These silver-labeled records attempted to present early music in the most authentic form possible. The records were accompanied with the most detailed documentation I have ever seen on any recordings. The first discs, in 1948, were of Bach organ music played by Helmut Walcha, a star of the label for 30 years.

August 16, 2014

Recorded legacy of Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss was born 100 years ago. Strauss was not only one of the most famous composers of the 20th century, he was also one of the most renowned conductors. He was thus in the almost unique position to conduct on records definitive performances of his own works. We will assess the recorded legacy of Richard Strauss' musical heritage.

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