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The Treasure Trove

The Treasure Trove is a page which features rare, exceptional, not so exceptional and sometimes forgotten Lp recordings or just lists performances to enjoy or to remember, even if they had a short life.

Many may be known to, and have already been evaluated by, die hards, but to point out their existence can be of use to music lovers and collectors.
If you have comments, additional information or questions, just send an E-mail.

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A sultry night with Curzon and Jorda in the Spanish Gardens
Talking in the past sense there are three important conductors when it comes to performing works of  Spanish (and not so Spanish) composers: Ataulfo Argenta, Raphael Frübeck de Burgos and Enrique Jorda. All three have made recordings of De Falla's "Noches en los jardines de España", the three symphonic impressions for piano and orchestra: Nights in the Gardens of Spain. For many a favorite recording always has been the one on DECCA SXL 2091 from 1959 with pianist Gonzalo Soriano and conductor Ataulfo Argenta coupled with Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto performed by Narcisso Yepes. Right from the first release it was a best selling one too! Rodrigo had composed this popular work in 1939 and it was first premiered in 1940. It inspired many a composer. The most well know is Victor Young who took the theme to write the music for the movie "Johnny Guitar". And Gill Evans arranged the theme of the second movement for his band to accompany jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.

Decca never reissued the original coupling of these performances in the cheaper Ace of Diamonds (SDD), World of the Great Classics (SPA) or Jubilee (JB) Series. This was for copyright reasons. The recordings had been made in cooperation with Spanish Columbia who were the copyright owners. That is why Decca kept SXL2091 for more than 20 years in the catalogue. That was the only way to assure the continuity of the success. At left the cover of Alhambra MCC 30054, the Spanish mono edition of SXL 2091.
Four years after his DECCA recording, pianist Gonzalo Soriano played the piano part in a somewhat more streamlined, straightforward performance with Raphael Frübeck de Burgos which was recorded by HMV. Also in beautiful sound.

There is however an earlier recording of Falla's Nights in the gardens of Spain made by DECCA with English pianist Clifford Curzon and conductor Enrique Jorda made in July 1951 (Kingsway Hall, London) and released with Grieg's concerto on LXT 5165, and also on the 2 sides of a 10" Lp with reference number LW 5216 from 1956.
When Falla started working on this composition he gave it the title "Nocturnes" which still indicates the atmosphere of the three sections. Most pianists and conductors play the work in a well structured manner and sometimes rather straightforward. Curzon and Jorda however work together in a fine tuned atmospheric recording. Enrique Jorda is a conductor from the old school who - in stark contrast to the hyper active conductors of the youngest generation from the second milennium, takes time for phrasing and subtle dynamic variations and so achieves a sense of sultry and mysteriousness, while the air is bearing with heavy scents. This rendition has a quality which was hardly experienced before (and after, I must say). This performance shows once more all too clear how crucial the cooperation is of all the musicians involved. In this case the synergy between Jorda and Curzon is intense, yet intuitive. A true treasure that was well recorded with the piano well embedded in the orchestra.

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The liner notes on Westminster XWN 18417: "Kurt Appelbaum began to play piano at the age of four. One of the most outstanding pupils of Arthur Schnabel, he made his debut in Berlin at the age of twenty-four, meeting with immediuate success. He concertized extensively in Europe and made his American debut in New York's Town Hall in 1938. He has lived in the United States since 1938, and has made annual concert tours. His programs for the most part have been devoted to the music of Beethoven, for whom Mr. Appelbaum feels a deep affinity. He has devoted many years to intensive study of the Beethoven piano sonatas." The New York Times reported on February 1, 1990 that Kurt Appelbaum had died at the age of 84.


Kurt Appelbaum's Westminster Beethoven recordings:

First recordings 5000 series
5044 Nos 7 & 21 'Waldstein'
5090 Nos. 9, 24, 31
5133 Nos. 23, 16
5150 'Hammerklavier'
5313 Op. 42 Op. 22

18000-series:
18056 Nos 4, 28
18413 Nos. 2, 21, 24
18414 Nos. 7, 11
18415 Nos. 14, 16, 23
18416 Nos. 9, 29
18517 Nos. 31, 32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


High Fidelity Beethoven

The liner notes of Westminster WL 5075 deal extensively with the structure and the nature of Beethoven's  Op. 111 and Op. 2 No. 2. There are however no data about the pianist, Kurt Appelbaum, with whom Westminster started a complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas in 1950. The first disc - with Sonatas Nos. 7 and 21 (WL 50-44) - was released in December 1950. From six records produced, only the one containing Sonatas Nos. 9 and 24 was well received (WL 5090). Westminster apparently abandoned the project and substituted Appelbaum for Paul Badura-Skoda but Warren Demotte says that the wisdom of this choice was to be questioned as Badura-Skoda was much too young.
However, in hindsight, WL 5075 (released in June 1951), gives a remarkable example of what was feasible as far as High Fidelity is concerned. It is amazing how clear and clean and well defined, and also how natural the sound of the grand piano is captured and engraved in this disc. The sleeve says "Copyright 1951" and at the time the extremely high sound quality was recognized by engineers, critics and record collectors alike. If the standard of technique was already that high in 1951, one wonders why not more records were produced in the same technical vein in the early years of the monaural record, and in the years thereafter?
Well, of course, there were outstanding recordings already then, like the ones made for Mercury records by Robert C. Fine and the Mercury team. Westminster's recording quality in later years never reached that same height and as far as dynamics were concerned lost its superiority. In those years there were not many labels that could challenge the Westminster/Appelbaum sound. Specifically the cycle with Wilhelm Kempff on Deutsche Grammophon (in the USA released on American Decca) could not be recommended at all because of the rather low recording quality which sported a dull, round piano tone. Notwithstanding the fact that the Decca equivalent of any Deutsche Grammophon disc generally had a much clearer and defined sound and had better dynamics than the DGG disc cut and pressed in Germany. But even the sound of the Kempff US Deccas was not good enough as many a critic and collector reported. The choice for Deutsche Grammophon to make LP recordings with a rather heavy rounded sound is incomprehensible as most of the 78 rpm POLYDOR shellac discs reveal such a realistic piano sound.
Even if Appelbaum sometimes lacks the necessary lightness, seriousness, playfulness and humor (as many pianists do), and at times adequate technique to explore Beethoven's realm, the recording and the interpretations are nevertheless very pleasing to the ear. Later the Sonatas Op. 110 (No. 31) and Op. 111 (No. 32) were re-released on XWN 18417. And on second hearing, I must conclude that these are individualistic and interesting performances and more information about Kurt Appelbaum is available on that later XWN 18417 edition. (See at left.)

Louis Alexander, an amateur pianist who studied with Kurt Appelbaum from 1979-1981 in New York, with whom I corresponded for a short while, wrote to me:


"Appelbaum (...) was from Berlin, studied with Artur Schnabel, and his first wife was Anna Cassirer (daughter of Ernst Cassirer). (...) Off and on, I have tried to write about the years I spent as his student as he was without doubt one of the most profound teachers and pianists I have come across. That you find his recording of Op. 2 #2 without such things as lightness, seriousness and so on I do find surprising. I will have to revisit this recording. Actually, this is a work we spent a great deal of time on and I found his insights and playing to be most insightful. As you pointed out, only one of his recordings was well received and this seems to have been the curse of his life. He was so frustrated with audiences not understanding his interpretations that he walked away from the stage in the early 1950's. As I recall, he felt that it was this move that led Westminster to drop his contract, but I am not certain if I am remembering this correctly. (...) Perhaps Appelbaum would have agreed with your criticism that there were times when his interpretation was a little less of Beethoven and more of him. But, I believe he would have said something to the effect that B would have understood this and indeed would have expected this from an interpreter. Actually, I am not sure how A would have answered this. One thing I do remember from my study of the Op 2 #2 with him was the tremendous difficulty I had with the runs in the first movement. Appelbaum had an uncanny ability to use language as a way of reaching an understanding of how to approach such difficulties. He said that in order to understand such passages one had to become a tiger and run up the keyboard as it would. This visual image had such physical power for me that I learned from it how to play these rather difficult runs. In fact, A had me practice them by playing the notes in bunches and to pounce my way up the keyboard as if I were a tiger running after its prey. Gradually, he had me play the notes in succession rather than in bunches. It worked! This (...) does show you something of his teaching style. About Appelbaum, I am afraid there is painfully little information as he led a rather hermetic life (...) when I knew him in the late 1970s. Your mentioning of Badura-Skoda taking over the recording contract did remind me of his mentioning this. I do not remember him as having any ill feelings towards Badura-Skoda. Appelbaum's life as a performer seems to have had a tragic quality to it in that public opinion seemed to go against him." - Louis Alexander

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Leonard Pennario Khachaturian Piano Concerto


Mindru Katz's eloquent interpretations of Khachaturian's Piano Concerto and Prokofiev's No. 1.

You may have stumbled on Khachaturian's Concerto performed by pianist Leonard Pennario and conductor Felix Slatkin (father of Leonard) on Capitol P-8349, a noteworthy performance at the time of its release in 1957. Although it was originally released as a mono recording (made on 5-6 of October 1956), there exists a stereo issue of the same performance on SP-8349. Capitol must have recorded the concerto already in stereo at the time. Pennario's clear and chiseled technique and impetus are very appropriate for this extrovert score. He fully does justice to Aram Khatchaturian's style and melodies based on Armenian folk music. A performance to enjoy.
A few years later Everest had recorded Peter Katin in the same, released on SDBR 3055 (1960) with the cover with silver back designed by Alex Steinweiss. In their effort to make a real high fidelity recording, they did capture a somewhat clangorous, unnatural piano tone. The sound characteristic is better in the later Everest edition with the blue-orange label.

Although there had been remarkable recordings by other famous pianists like Moura Lympany (Decca/London), Oscar Levant (Columbia), Youri Boukoff (Philips/Epic) and William Kapell (RCA Victor), in 1966 High Fidelity Magazine reviewed a new recording of this work (which is as loud and as easy to access as the captivating Second Symphony, "The Bell" ( do get this symphony conducted by the composer himself on the Decca/London label). But now the pianist was Mindru Katz and the label was Vanguard. Appealing is Katz's pianism as well as the extremely brilliant recording technique which, even in a later pressing in the Vanguard Everyman Classics Series, is as dynamic as it is thrilling. Definitely a must have item not just for the audiophile
P.S. After writing this paragraph I acquired Philippe Entremont's recording with Seiji Oszawa conducting. Interesting is that Entremont's is a many facetted and very personal interpretation (CBS 72981 from 1971 = M-31075, coupled with Liszt's Hungarian Fantasia) and also very well recorded.
There is also an old Urania recording (URLP 7086) with Margot Pinter and Artur Rother which was issued by Eli Oberstein on Royale 1276 stating that the pianist is Maria Hüttner and the conductor Joseph Bälzer. See
Ernst Lumpe's Allegro-Royale Pages.

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Prokofiev, Gershwin and Ravel in adventurous interpretations.

Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto by Byron Janis and Kyrill Kondrashin? By Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado? Yes, Janis because of his composed playing, the "cool" cooperation with Kondrashin, the excellent microphone placement and the practically perfect recording and mastering of Mercury SR-90283 (if you have a top quality copy). Argerich not so much because of the recorded sound of SLPM 139 349, but because of the lyricism and intensity she and Claudio Abbado achieve.
Both may be among your favorites. Argerich's is coupled with Ravel's Concerto and Janis with his beautiful reading of Rachmaninoff's 1st. But it is time you added a third and blasting performance in transparent and dynamic sound to your collection (if you did not already). It is the recording by Julius Katchen made around the same time as Argerich's Deutsche Grammophon in 1969. It is DECCA's SXL 6411 which was still in the second Wide Silver Band series of recordings. The conductor is Istvan Kertesz, who leads the orchestra in a frenzy rendering of the work with drama and drive and suppleness at the same time. The scenario of the performance must have been written by both pianist and conductor well before the clarinetist calmly pressed the air, vibrating the reed, after which the sound is building up its structure to a first climax.

The whole affair takes you aback by amazement and sheer joy. The strong dynamics add to this firing furnace. The dynamics are followed by well executed diminuendos and the remarkable athletic piano playing of Katchen which cools down the atmosphere when necessary. All these moves are obviously well planned, yet never seem losing their make up of being propelled on the spur of the moment. Katchen is a master pianist, a wizzard, and Kertesz is a king in his own realm of symphonic sound making who's lead is well followed by the members of the London Symphony.

You may miss the calm and precise climaxes of Byron and Kyril which sound probably more Prokofievian than the effective rendition of Julius and Istvan. You may miss the flow of Argerich's playing and Abbado's conducting. But you will not easily forget the splendor of this SXL which contains on Side 2 Gershwin's Rhapsody in a very satisfying performance with good understanding of the Gershwin idiom, and an even captivating Concerto for the Left hand of Ravel which does not pale when placed next to the reading of Samson François.

On top of that, the grand piano and the orchestral score are captured in all the detailed glory from the lowest register to the strong top, which of course adds to the thrilling experience.

Both the Ravel and Gershwin make the cockles of your heart jump and you will be nailed to the edge of your chair.
I always like to sit very close to the orchestra. Row 6 in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is perfect for me. There you hear the clarity and the loudness and softness of the grand piano and the Cinerama-like display of strings, percussion, wood, brass and bass. And that is what the disc delivers if you have a lively audio set and have not dimmed down all the fine details by too much damping. That is, if you play it with a very good cartridge which provides all aspects of the score with clean dynamics and the loudest tutti, which can be grasped by the ear completely in all their complexity.

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George Szell's breathtaking Beethoven's Fifth and Mozart's KV 338 with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra
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On Philips LP 802 769 LY.

 

 

 


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Walter Gieseking playing Mozart's KV 488 with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra on Columbia 33C1012
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This performance is not easily surpassed. A perfect synergy between Gieseking and Von Karajan in a technically well recorded concerto. It is important however to acquire the original English Columbia pressing as other pressings - like the one on the Eterna label - do not convey that same quality.

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Technically most authentic sounding recording of a great treasure.
This performance, recorded in Berlin in the midst of World War II, has been pressed on various labels: Deutsche Grammophon, Melodiya, Unicorn and Ariston. All technicians involved have been cleaning up the old Reichsrundfunk Gesellschaft's tapes. To my knowledge the full impact of the performance in those dark days has only been cut into the lacquer with a lot of atmosphere by the Italian Ariston label. Ariston covers two full sides of a 12 inch record instead of just one side as Unicorn does. The impact is also heightened because they simulated stereo. Although simulated stereo is not always preferred, in this case the application gives extra impact. Thus this Ariston pressing of Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto in the dramatic performance by Conrad Hansen and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler has become an even more compelling Furtwängler recording. It is one of my ten desert island discs.

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Pianist Frieda Valenzi and conductor Jean Morel play César Franck.

This performance of César Franck's 'Variations Symphoniques' on Remington with conductor Jean Moreau, who is obviously Jean Morel who traveled to Vienna and made the recording. This is - to my knowledge - the only interpretation of this work which does justice to its concept of variations. Frieda Valenzi.

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Ingrid Haebler plays Mozart: Fantasia and Sonata KV 475 and 457, Sonata KV 533 and 494, and Fantasia KV 397. Philips 802 749 LY
.
Although it is advised to play Chopin as if you would play Mozart, and Mozart like you would play Chopin, Ingrid Haebler has her own, convincing and integer ideas when playing Mozart's Fantasy K 475 and Sonata KV 475 with great intensity.

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Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco: Romancero gitano, Sylvano Bussotti: ultima rara, Heinz Friedrich Hartig: Perché.

Siegfried Behrend, guitar; Sylvano Bussotti, voice; NCRV Vocaal Ensemble, Marinus Voorberg, conductor. Deutsche Grammophon 2530 037
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Extraordinary music, extremely well performed.

 

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Partsongs of Delius and Elgar on Argo.

These are performed by the Louis Halsey Singers released on one of those collectible, early Argo stereo recordings with the oval label. These are wonderful compositions on poems by Tennyson, Longfellow, Shelley, Arthur Symons, Andrew Lang, Henry Vaughan, Rosa Newmarch, and Byron, and an anonymous poet. There is even a text attributed to Delius himself as the insert tells. The choral sound is excellent and the singing is of the highest order with beautiful phrasing and perfect timing. Listen to the beautiful 'My love dwelt in a northern land' composed by Edward Elgar, and 'The splendor falls on castle walls' by Frederick Delius, and get carried away on the intimate sounds of the human voice into the wide and spacious countryside. The program contains all in all 14 songs.

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Lydia Gordon who lives in Montreal, Canada, writes:

"Ernö Szegedi was my former teacher at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.
Yes, he was from Szeged, but his original name was Ketter Ernö and his teachers were Imre Stefaniai and Ernö Dohnanyi.
Erno Szegedi was a wonderful interpreter of Debussy and Ravel and he was a virtuoso when playing Etudes of Chopin and Liszt, compositions by Dohnanyi, Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto), etc. His first wife Magda Vasarhelyi was an excellent concert pianist herself. They often performed together playing original repertory written for duo-pianists. Aniko Szegedi, Ernö Szegedi's daughter, is a pianist too. She is especially well known in Europe." - Lydia Gordon


Szegedi Ernö (Erno) a.o. play Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies.

Recently I acquired a boxed set of 3 LPs, all in mono, with the 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by Franz Liszt performed by various pianists. I have not played them all, but I will do in due time and I may be in for more surprises.
The Hungarian Rhapsodies are favorites of mine. I have a few recordings on the shelves: Misha (Mischa) Dichter on Philips, Alexander Brailowsky on RCA, Michele Campanella on Philips. Roberto Szidon on Deutsche Grammophon. Misha Dichter is dynamic, Brailowsky is idiosyncratic, Campanella is honest and less sophisticated, but is recorded in beautiful sound, and Szidon is dynamic as well and fully understands the score.
In Hungary the Christian name is always placed after the family name. So when you come across the name Szegedi Ernö (Erno), it means that Ernö is the given name and Szegedi is the family name (maybe the family originally came from Szeged, who knows). Ernö Szegedi is one of the six pianists Hungaroton put together on LPX 1079-80-81. The other five are: Harnádi Lajos, Katona Agnes, Antal István, Gabos Gábor, and Wehner Tibor (who also gives us a very personal, intimate Liszt).
After the records were cleaned I put on one of my favorites which is the 5th Hungarian Rhapsody (Héroide élégiaque). In this Hungaroton collection it is performed by Ernö Szegedi. I was in for a shock. There was no bravura, no slick piano playing, no superficiality. Ernö Szegedi performed the Liszt we all know from 'Funerailles' and also from the Sonata (so well played by
Simon Barere). Szegedi's Fifth Rhapsody is the core of what could be called the Hungarian soul, it is the essence of Liszt's deeper creativity. Szegedi also plays No. 1 in his own manner, and No. 14 (from which the Hungarian Fantasy is derived, very well played by Shura Sherkassky with Herbert von Karajan on Deutsche Grammophon and by Sondra Bianca with Carl Bamberger on Musial Masterpiece Society). Szegedi sheds a different light on all these compositions.
So if you come across this Hungaroton set or just recordings of Szegedi Ernö check them out. He also played compositions of
Dohnanyi Ernö, and on Hungaroton HLPX 1044-45 (a two record set) Bela Bartok's "For the Children" (Gyermekeknek, Series I and II). Maybe you can confirm the quality of playing and agree with my suggestion, and you are happy that I have talked you into buying them.
Do not confuse the set with the Hungarian Rhapsodies with the later Hungaroton LPX 11488-90 set recorded in stereo from the nineteen seventies with Gabor Gabos, Erika Lux, Gabriella Torma, Erszébeth Tusa and Kornel Zempléni. There you can hear that Gabriella Torma in No. 5 is somewhat emulating Ernö Szegedi, but she has a less perfect timing.

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Olivier Messiaen: Complete Works for Organ. Almut Rössler. Schwann AMS Studio 351.

"Gesamtausgabe" (Complete Edition) is printed on box and book of this 7 Lp set of recordings made in the years 1969 till 1972 of the complete works for organ played by Almut Rössler on the Riegel organ of the Neander church at Düsseldorf and on the Beckerath organ of the "Johanneskirche", also at Düsseldorf. These are modern instruments with all the possibilities, voices and registers, for performing works from Clérambault to Messiaen (as is said about another Beckerath organ). Olivier Messiaen himself took part in the preparation of these performances.
Years ago I owned a Ducretet Lp with "L'ascension" and "Le banquet celéste", music which transports you to far away spheres. These two compositions get however their full meaning in the context of the many other works in this fascinating set. The recording engineers and technicians were Heinz Klein, Ingo Engelsmann, Richard Hauk, Günther Half and H.N. Matthes. They all did a wonderful job.

Messiaen's music is based on a strong religious believe. But even if you do not accept his convictions, the inspiration can be felt in each and every work. Messiaen explores the possibilities of the organ to new levels and while creating so many different sounds and combinations of sounds, he compiles as it were an entire catalog of creativity and beauty, sometimes curious and sometimes exploring strange worlds, but always a blueprint of the soul it seems.

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Walter Goehr Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade MMS

Mewton-Wood Goehr Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Walter Goehr with Rimsky-Korsakov on Musical Masterpiece Society MMS 2004 (12 inch)/ Guilde Internationale du disque M-126, and with Mewton Wood in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto Op. 44 (CHS 1125).

Every other month the postman would deliver a parcel with a few MMS records. Sender was Musical Masterpiece Society (Muzikale Meesterwerken Serie) located in Amsterdam at Paulus Potterstraat 12 (opposite the later built Van Gogh Museum which opened in 1973). As a collector one was not pressed to buy one or more records. The membership was a perfect and agreeable way for collector and music lover alike to get acquainted with works from the classical catalog performed by interesting artists: Beethoven's 4th Concerto with pianist Noel Mewton-Wood; Liszt's "Hungarian Fantasia" with pianist Sondra Bianca and "Les Preludes" on MMS-166 conducted by Carl Bamberger (who studied with Heinrich Schenker); violinist Ricardo Odnoposof playing Mendelssohn, Paganini and Bach; Walter Goehr conducting Tchaikovsky's 4th and 5th Symphonies, and many more. And the odd 10" record (reference MMS-196) had pianist Georges Vincent playing and Fred Hendrik conducting the Concert Hall Promenade Orchestra, pseudonyms for Georges van Renesse and Benedict Silberman (Silbermann) probably. On the program Warsaw Concerto (Addinsel), Cornish Rhapsody (Bath), and Swedish Rhapsody (Alfven).
MMS was an ambitious label, recording for example all Beethoven and Mozart String Quartets played by the Pascal Quartet, and the complete Mozart Symphonies (41), Walter Goehr conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.

MMS not only pressed 33 rpm 12 and 10 inch discs, but 7" records as well which were also cut at 33 1/3 and never at 45 rpm.

Some time ago I acquired Rimsky-Korsakoff's "Scheherazade" conducted by Walter Goehr on the early MMS label, number four in the 2000-series of 12 inch pressings.
No listing of this recording as a Concert Hall Society release can be found in editions of Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog, nor in the catalogs of Gramophone, but it is assumed that the recording was made in 1954 or even earlier as it is listed in Discopedie 1955 edition , at the end of a fruitful period of making recordings in the Netherlands.
I have always liked and often admired Walter Goehr's uncomplicated style of conducting. There is no pretense, he has good insight in the musical score and, what is more important, he has extremely good timing and treats a movement as a well thought over concept, not as a fragmented, rhapsodic cluster of themes. Proof of this is in the wonderful recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 with pianist Noel Mewton Wood on Concert Hall CHS-1125. Just listen to the exquisitely played second movement with the Winterthur Symphony Orchestra. To my knowledge hardly no other recording equals the perfect cooperation between conductor and soloist, in this case of Goehr and Mewton-Wood, in this movement. Sure, Shura Cherkasky's Tchaikovsky with the Berlin Philharmonic is very well performed, but many "modern" performances seem to be manipulated or fabricated, like the Postnikova/Roshdestvensky on Philips. In the Concert Hall recording the violin solo is performed by Peter Rybar and the cello is played by Antonio Tusa as is mentioned on the page of
René Gagnaux.

CHS 1125 was first listed in the December 1951 Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog. The record was released in time for the Christmas Season or even earlier in November as it took at least one month to prepare and print a new edition of the catalog and generally monthlies were antedated and so the December issue was already on stands in November. The recording which had been issued as a floppy 10 inch record on MMS 131, was deleted (discontinued) by June 1957.

Walter Goehr and Noel Mewton-Wood decided to play an abridged version of the second movement. It is n not the so called Siloti cut, because Goehr and Mewton Wood play a longer version. See for what Alexander Siloti proposed Wikipedia. In the Concert Hall recording the long orchestral introduction was omitted and already after a few bars the piano sets in, sensitively. Also the long orchestral part later in the score is reduced. If you want to hear the extensive version of the second movement, there is as an example, take the recording made by EMI with Sylvia Kersenbaum and Jean Martinon from 1972.
The shorter version of Mewton-Wood and Goehr has a more sober style, is more classical in approach and by its shortness gains in impact. This cleverly concocted abridged version is - in my view - all you need.

Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy plays Tchaikovsky in the Russian movie "Chaykovskiy" from 1969, which is directed by Igor Talankin and L. Sadikova and Tchaikovsky's music is adepted and arranged by Dmitri Tiomkin. The movie visualizes the prominent compositions and suggests the creative moods of the composer which is quite interesting for those who are familiar with the works of this great Russian. An important instance is also the premiere of the First Piano Concerto performed by the composer. The concerto is not well received, especially by teacher Anton Rubinstein. He tells Tchaikovsky that the B minor Concerto does not have the quality of a Beethoven Concerto.
Judged from the second movement of the Second Concerto - typically in the performance on Concert Hall - Tchaikovsky's response to Rubinstein's remark can be heard, especially at the end of the movement where there is a reminiscense of the ending of the Second Movement of Beethoven's 4th Concerto.
Compared to the pianistic Shura Cherkassky (with Fritz Lehman), the musical Werner Haas (with Eliahu Inbal), and the clear Sylvia Kersenbaum (with Jean Fournet abit exaggarating), Noel Mewton-Wood and Walter Goehr give a human rendition although they leave half of the score out around 7 1/2 minutes) while Haas and Inbal take 15 1/2 minutes. Compared to these and other greats, Wood and Goehr are atmospheric and compelling.

Click here to listen to the Second Movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 played by Noel Mewton-Wood and Walther Goehr.

Mewton-Wood's Schumann Op. 54 in A is also a remarkable performance released on a 10" disc (MMS 43). There the mood of the Second Symphony and even Träumerai shine through, although the Third Movement (allegro vivace) is a bit too German for my taste.
Walter Goehr always knows how to get good playing from the musicians and he knows how to put the orchestra and the performance on the rail. This was especially important if only a short recording time was available, and if one or more movements had to be recorded the next day or even several days later, he accepted that fact. It is said that one work could have been recorded by the same orchestra but several musicians would have been replaced as they were on the next assignment playing the remainder of a score. It just depended on who was available for a side job. It is also said that rather often in the middle of playing a movement, the recording was stopped because the orchestra - which was actually the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Netherlands) - had a busy schedule and was to perform for Dutch Radio Union that same day. In the score the bar was marked were to begin the following day or whatever day the next session was scheduled for.

Could well be that "Scheherazade" was recorded in such a manner, and at least during two sessions (if not more). Generally a break can be heard if the ambiance changes due to a slight difference in microphone placement. In recordings the slight change in positioning the micophone(s) can often be noticed. A clear example of this phenomenon can be heard in the recording of Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto with Lazar Berman and Claudio Abado where the cadenza was recorded separately under different circumstances - CBS.
In the MMS Scheherazade it seems that the first recording session included the first movement and half of the second movement. So far the performance is rather uninteresting and the sound recording is somewhat dull. But from halfway the second movement up to and including the fourth movement, the performance has a lively character. The sound engineers have been more careful and the orchestra is more alert. The result is quite good. Even the violinist seems to be in a better mood or must have been replaced by another player as the violin solo has far more spirit and soul now. The Netherlands Philharmonic, as the group of musicians is called, play correctly. At the time Bernard Haitink was conductor of the Radio Philharmonic, but the MMS orhestra ould well have been the Utrecht Symphonty or a mix of orchestra players. The performance does not reach the intensity of "The young prince and the princess" of Bernard Haitink's Scheherazade (Philips), but Goehr and his musicians do their best although the orchestra has difficulty in the virtuso passages. Nevertheless the last movement has vigor and drive.

The interesting question concerning this Musical Masterworks Society recording is: "Who is plays the solo violin?"
Maybe Piet Hartvelt, or Jacob van der Woude, who were concert masters / leaders of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in the nineteen fifties. Or it could have been Theo Olof, who also recorded for MMS? Or maybe it is the concert master of the Broadcasting Orchestra (Omroep Orkest), Dutch violinist Willy Busch (a far cousin of Fritz, Adolph and Hermann Busch), who also plays the solos in the MMS recording of Bach's St. Matthew Passion conducted by Piet van Egmond? Or just any violinist who was available at the time? Whoever he may be, it is remarkable that he plays with understanding, in strong and beautiful lines, and with passion. This is in strong contrast to violinist Jan Damen's poor (to put it blun4tly) solos in the Concertgebouw Orchestra performance under Eduard van Beinum, recorded for the Philips label in the same year. The sound of this MMS recording is also remarkably good, and better - I should say - than the Philips.

The little money invested in this second hand, old and used record was well spent. But be sure to acquire the relatively heavy 12 inch disc if you are interested! And not the floppy 10 inch disk (MMS 126), unless you absolutely have to. And remember that the choice of cartridge makes a huge difference. For more info see
Concert Hall Society - MMS.

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Armin Schibler, Boris Mersson, Jean Perrin, Conrad Beck.

The title of this record is "Saxophone Musik Schweizer Komponisten" (Saxophone Music of Swiss Composers). Iwan Roth is the soloist who plays together with the Camarata Zürich conducted by Raäto Tschupp, and with pianists Boris Mersson and Gérard Wyss. The record is a pressing by Jacklin disco, reference number 568.
Saxophone records are hard to find. And it is a real treat if the find is expressive music in exquisite performances. This one is not to be missed.

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Music of Young Romanian Composers: Anatol Vieru - Museum Music, Stefan Niculesco - Formants, Tiberiu Olah - Translations, Mihai Mitrea-Celerianu - Seth, and Costin Miereanu - Polymorphies.

Exciting music, amazing compositions, written in the nineteen sixties during the reign of Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu.
Passionate and meticulous per54ormances conducted by Marius Constant and his ensemble "Ars Nova".

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Leoš Janácek - Piano and Chamber Works - performed by Paul Crossley (piano), The London Sinfonietta and Chorus condcucted by David Atherton, Kenneth Sillito (violin), Christopher van Kampen (cello), and the Gabrieli String Quartet. Exemplary performances.

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Solo Pieces of Joaquin Rodrigo played by guitarist Pepe Romero.
You know how it is. There are recordings which you always can play and never get tired of the music and the interpretation and the beauty of it. And if you did not hear them for some time, there suddenly can be a yearning to listen to one or more of them because you want to reviset a wonderful place where you feel at home. That is why I listened after a long time again to "Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen" (Kindertotenlieder, Gustav Mahler).
One of those recordings you always can listen to is Philips 9500 915 with Pepe Romero playing beautiful compositions of Joaquin Romero: En Los Trigales, Sonata a la Espagñola, Tientyo Antiguo, Junto al Generalife, Fandango, 3 Petites pièces, Bajando de la Mesata, and Romance de Durandarte. The execution has intimacy, vigour, is at times meditative, and always conveys very well these different moods of the pieces. They are extremely well recorded by the Philips technicians and beautifully pressed.

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Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15 and Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14, KV 449: Veronica Jochum von Moltke and Eugen Jochum.

The father, Eugen, may have said: "My dear Veronica, I will give you the best orchestral accompaniement I have." And that's what he gave her. OK. But then of course remained the question: "Is Beethoven's First a late Mozart Concerto or should it be played with the vigour of the later Beethoven?" That is the reverse of the question whether Mozart's late Concertos should already have a Beethovenian flavor.
Daughter and father certainly discussed extensively the way they were going to play the scores. The interpretation reflects their answers which lie in the nature of these performers, of Eugen Jochum, the foremost Beethoven expert, and his daughter Veronica Jochum von Moltke, the piano talent styled in extremely musical surroundings. That is how it came about that the two recorded a wonderfully supple, yet firm, Beethoven and a beautiful Mozart, together with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (Bamberger Symphoniker) in 1969, very well recorded by the Philips engineers. The record was released in 1970.
Yes, the question of a sensitive link to Mozart, is being answered in this recording. The introduction of Beethoven's Op. 15 by the orchestra with "Trois jeunes tambours" is played with a youthful 'joy de vivre', but at the same time with a poignent seriousness, without making the music sound military or giving it a touch of agression.
The piano blends in very well with subtle phrasing through which the melodic lines are sounding in a continuous flow as it were, and this in all three movements. Naturally nothing of the sort of testosteron displayed by her male contenders Claudio Arrau and Alfred Brendel, both with Bernard Haitink, and Brendel also with James Levine. Veronica remains sincere and integer throughout.
The same goes for her playing and the collaboration with her father in the Mozart KV 449.

This record is relatively rare, it seems, and is worth its while for more than one hundred percent. It is a performance that you can play and play again. It never fails to bring joy. And if at one moment or another you would need a more sturdy and nervous Beethoven you can pick one from the large reservoir of male pianist, old and young, just to remind you how beautiful, subtle and flowing Veronica Jochum's Beethoven and Mozart are.
The record was released as Philips 6500 150, and in Germany also as 6833 028 in a gatefold sleeve with a Philips catalog, beautifully illustrated showing the many boxed sets of the Philips artists..

At left the front and back of the German release, and a booking ad from 1968/1969 (Albert Kay Associates, Inc. New York)

See Veronica Jochum von Moltke's biography at the New England Conservatory.

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Years ago a pianist friend of mine advised me to listen to Christian Zacharias.
I did and also watched a program on German television WDR about his approach of Scarlatti Sonatas. Now I found the Haydn Sonatas played with beautiful energy. At left the front of the German release. Not to be missed!

 

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Copyright 1998-2009 by Rudolf Bruil, Louis Alexander, Ben Rummigam, Eamonn Sullivan, and Lydia Gordon,