When we think of piano virtuosos, we usually get an image of brilliant soloists performing dazzling technical feats at the keyboard. But there are famous pianists who are also lovers of chamber music, and who like nothing better than to submerge their musical egos in a larger group of musicians. The names of Arthur Schnabel, Rudolf Serkin and Emmanuel Ax come to mind. We'll hear some their recordings.
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
This year marks the commemoration of Richard Wagner's birth 200 years ago. After the flood of Wagner recordings after 1925, in the following decades of the 1930s and 1940s, another generation of Wagner conductors emerged. Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter and Wilhelm Furtwaengler made outstanding recordings in this period. We'll sample some of these discs.
For concert violinists, the great violin concertos of the 19th century may be the bread and butter repertory, but in the 20th century, the period from 1930 to 1950 saw the composition of many fine violin concertos, and the soloists who first played these concertos often also made the premier recordings of these works. There were, in that period, new concertos by Serge Prokofiev, Samuel Barber, and Bela Bartok, and we'll sample some of those recordings.
The famous British conductor Colin Davis died this past April 14. Davis had been a highly successful recording conductor over many decades. Among his many specialties, his achievements in recording the music of Hector Berlioz stand out. He was the first one to get on discs Berlioz's epic opera The Trojans. We'll sample some of Davis' outstanding recordings.
Sir Thomas Beecham was a man of strong likes and dislikes. The conductor was cold to the music of Bach, but very warm to Handel, and his love for the music of Mozart and Delius was famous. Less known was his affection for the earlier, less heroic symphonies of Franz Schubert. He recorded some of these works in the 1930s and later in the 1950s. There was something in the buoyant youthful cheerfulness in these earlier symphonies that appealed to the genial side of Beecham. We'll hear some of these recordings.
The Russian composer Alexander Glazunov was somewhat born out of the right time. He began writing late Romantic music when the music work was spinning into modernism. His beautifully crafted works seemed old fashioned in the early 20th century, but they have worn well. I'll play some of this most famous compositions.
Most conductors are musically trained as pianists. And many virtuoso pianists, at the height of successful careers, take up the baton and broaden their careers to include conducting as well as solo performing. Such has been the case the Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim. We will trace some career paths, from keyboard to podium.
On Vintage Vinyl Day, let's look at record collectors, a special breed of folks. What drives the urge to collect records? What is collectable? What creates the special personal drive to collect a special kind of record? And finally, for patient spouses, is there any cure for the collecting bug, aside from putting on attachments to the house? And we will play collectable records as well.
This year is the 200 anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner. After electrical recording started in 1925, there was an explosion of recording of Wagner's music, and in the parade of conductors putting on discs Wagner's Preludes, Overtures, and Interludes were such outstanding maestros as Albert Coates, Karl Muck, Leo Blech, and Leopold Stokowski. We'll hear some of those recordings.
You might think that long playing records were for classical music and the 45 rpm record was for popular music. But in Germany, much classical music was released on 45 rpm records between 1953 and 1965. Some years ago, the Deutsche Grammophon Company released on CDs a nostalgic collection of music released on those "little records with the big holes." We'll play some of them.