Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Classics report: The Schneider Quartet's legendary Haydn recordings finally make it to CD


The cover of the booklet accompanying the indispensable Music and Arts CD reissue of the legendary not-quite-complete 1951-53 Haydn Society cycle of the Haydn string quartets by the Schneider Quartet

by Ken

For decades now it has been one of the gaps in the ranks of available recordings, through much of the LP era and, until now, the whole of the CD era. But this month Music and Arts has released a specially priced 15-CD set of the 54 Haydn quartets recorded by the Schneider Quartet in the early '50s, "newly remastered mostly from the original master tapes." The massive project was spearheaded by company founder Frederick J. Maroth but was pursued, becoming a memorial, following his death in November 2013.

Alexander Schneider (1908-1993), described by Tully Potter, in his customarily excellent essay for the album booklet, as "one of the more remarkable musicians of the last century." was a violinist who expanded into something of a one-man music industry." He had spent a dozen years (1932-44) as second violinist of the Budapest Quartet, the third Russian to replace the old Hungarian players. (His older brother Mischa, a cellist, had preceded him by two years. A few years later, with the coming of violist Boris Kroyt, the Russianization of the Budapest would be complete.) Schneider eventually rejoined the Budapest, and even though the second violinist is normally thought to play the least defining role in a string quartet, to be the most interchangeable element, it's fascinating how much animated and musically probing the Budapest was with Schneider than without.

In the period between his Budapest stints, Schneider undertook also sorts of chamber music initiatives and became a mainstay, first of Pablos Casals' Prades Festivals and then of the Marlboro Festival (more and more often as a conductor), and devoted more and more of his energies to performances with young performers. Around 1950 his attention turned to the great body of Haydn's string quartets, and it became known that the newly formed Haydn Society, taking advantage of the dawn of the LP era, was planning to record all of the string quartets with a Haydn formed for the purpose by Schneider, which came to include violinist Isidore Cohen (later second violinist of the Juilliard Quartet and the violinist of the Beaux Arts Trio), violist Karen Tuttle, and cellist Madeline Foley, in time replaced by Herman Busch (whose brothers included the outstanding conductor Fritz Busch and violinist Adolf Busch, the father-in-law of pianist Rudolf Serkin).

The quartet did perform all the Haydn quartets in concert, but with funds critically short was unable to record the 24 quartets of Opp. 9, 54/55, 64, and 71/74, though it turns out that Op. 64 was actually begun; the first and last movements of Op. 64, No. 1 have their first commercial release, edited from unedited master tapes from a session in October 1954. The Schneider Quartet Haydn performances remain unmatched for their combination of structural integrity with personal relish and big and bold interpretive choices.

By way of illustration, I thought we would listen to a couple of movements we've already heard, the first movement of Op. 33, No. 2, and the famous theme and variations movement of Op. 76, No. 3, and then dip into the early quartets.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Last scherzo with Anton


The prince of symphonic scherzos? Leonard Bernstein conducts the Scherzo of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra augmented by players from numerous other international orchestra, in this Christmas Day 1989 performance of the symphony in celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

by Ken

Last week we got (eventually) to the first movement of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony -- a massive report, I'm arguing, that all is far from well in our world. Next week we will get to the last movement that Bruckner composed, a crowning Adagio that, I will argue, reports that all is way far from well in our world.

And in between we have Bruckner's last scherzo.


BRUCKNER'S SCHERZOS AREN'T VERY JOKELIKE

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Bruckner 9 -- what "cathedrals of sound"? With a detour through Wagner's "Ring" cycle


BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor:
i. Feierlich, misterioso (Solemn, mysterious) -- opening

[A] Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. EMI, recorded Dec. 1-2, 1976

[B] Vienna Philharmonic, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. DG, recorded live, June 1988

by Ken

Yes, these are the "A" and "B" performances of the opening of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony we heard in last night's preview ("We said it wasn't over till we heard Bruckner 9"), which I described as "very different (but significantly related)." Longtime readers will probably have guessed, because I've used this trick before, that the significant relationship between the performances is that they're by the same conductor, as noted in the listings above.

I want to get to the reason why I excerpted this pair of performances, but first, let me throw out a question for your consideration as we listen through the three movements of the Ninth Symphony that Bruckner actually composed. (Eventually I suppose we'll have to talk about the movement he never did compose, a finale, but for now we will be considering these three movements the "complete" symphony -- and they form a quite satisfying whole to me.) The question is:

Is this happy music?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics preview: We said it wasn't over till we heard Bruckner 9


by Ken

It's going to be pretty much a quick in and out tonight -- an actual, you know, preview. Sunday, as you may have guessed, we finally tackle the Bruckner Ninth Symphony. I still haven't decided whether we're going to do the whole thing in one fell swoop, which is going to make for an extremely large and unwieldy post, because there are any number of issues that come up, or we're going to work our way through the piece in pieces. Either way, here's a preview of what we're going to hear.


IN A NUTSHELL -- THE BRUCKNER
NINTH IN UNDER 2½ MINUTES


BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor

excerpt from i. Feierlich, misterioso (Solemn, mysterious)


excerpt from ii. Scherzo: Bewegt, lebhaft (Animated, lively)


excerpt from iii. Adagio: Langsam, feierlich (Slow, solemn)


Bavarian State Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch, cond. Orfeo, recorded Dec. 23, 1984


YOU WANT MORE? OKAY, HERE'S A LITTLE MORE

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Who is the author of Hoffmann's misfortunes?

Her mother's portrait sings to her --
Erin Wall as Antonia, Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2011
VOICE OF ANTONIA'S MOTHER: Antonia!
ANTONIA: Heavens!
MIRACLE: Listen!
VOICE: Antonia!
MIRACLE: Listen!
ANTONIA: God! My mother! My mother!
VOICE: Dear child, whom I am calling
as in olden times,
it's your mother, it's she;
hear her voice!
Dear child, whom I am calling, etc.

Felicity Palmer (ms), Voice of Antonia's Mother; Jessye Norman (s), Antonia; Samuel Ramey (bs), Miracle; Staatskapelle Dresden, Jeffrey Tate, cond. Philips, recorded 1987-89

Christa Ludwig (ms), Voice of Antonia's Mother; Edita Gruberová (s), Antonia; James Morris (bs-b), Miracle; Orchestre National de France, Seiji Ozawa, cond. DG, recorded c1986

Patricia Kern (ms), Voice of Antonia's Mother; Beverly Sills (s), Antonia; Norman Treigle (bs), Miracle; London Symphony Orchestra,Julius Rudel, cond. ABC-EMI, recorded July-Aug. 1972

by Ken

As I indicated in last night's preview, here we are for one more week with Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann.

I'm going to try to keep my prattling to a minimum. I just felt we needed a better focus on the unfortunate life situation poor Hoffmann has situated himself in. At one point he asks the students whether they would like to know who is "the author of my misfortunes," presumably having in mind Councillor Lindorf, whom he casts as the bass-baritone "villain" in his three tales -- and who is in fact busily engaged in sabotaging Hoffmann's current grand passion, for the great actress La Stella. But by the end of the opera, I think we have a better idea -- apparently better than Hoffmann himself has -- who the author of most of his misfortunes is.


AN EVIL GENIUS AT WORK

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics preview: Our Frantz knows it's all a matter of technique


"It's technique" -- tenor Kerry Jennings as Frantz

by Ken

This was looking like the week for our curtain-lowering Bruckner Ninth, but I've made an executive decision that we can't leave Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann the way we did. So in preparation for tomorrow's farewell to Hoffmann, I thought tonight we'd enoy a tasty morsel from the Antonia act (which we're resolutely calling Act III, the last of the three "mad loves" promised to recount in the Prologue.

As regular readers know, some of my most loved operatic activity takes place with or even among the minor characters, and there aren't many Iove more than the servant in the Crespel household, whom we almost met last week, when we picked up at the point where Hoffmann had just been admitted into the house by the servant Frantz, in direct contradiction of the specific instructions of the departing Crespel not let let anyone in while he's out.

Frantz, alas, is pretty deaf, though one gets the feeling that he perhaps doesn't listen all that attentively. In any case, the master-servant exchange left Crespel in a rage and Frantz in a snit over the constant abuse he takes from his master. Now, left alone, he licks his wounds.

We hear first the celebrated comic actor Bourvil, who sings the "comic" tenor roles in the 1948 Opéra-Comique recording; then the cherished Swiss character tenor Hugues Cuénod; and finally the veteran French character tenor Michel Sénéchal (whom we've heard in a variety of musical settings, including Mahler!).

OFFENBACH: The Tales of Hoffmann: Act III, Song, Frantz, "Jour et nuit je me mets en quatre" ("Day and night I wear myself out")
FRANTZ: Day and night I wear myself out;
at the least sign I shut up.
It's just as if I was singing.
But no, if I was singing,
he'd have to moderate his contempt.
I sing alone sometimes
but singing isn't easy.
Tra la la la la la la la la la la la,
it's not the voice, however,
tra la la la la la la la la la la la,
that I'm lacking, I think.
La la la la la la la la la la la --
[His voice cracks.
No, it's technique, no, it's technique, etc.
Tra la la, etc.

Heavens. one can't be good at everything;
I sing pitifully.
But I dance agreeably;
I say so without false praise.
Gosh, dance is my strong point,
and dancing isn't easy.
Tra la la la la la la la la la la la,
With women my shapely legs,
tra la la la la la la la la la la la,
aren't what let me down.
La la la la la la la la la la la --
[He makes a false step and falls.
No, it's technique, no, it's technique, etc.
Tra la la, etc.

Bourvil (t), Frantz; Orchestra of the Opéra-Comique, André Cluytens, cond. EMI, recorded 1948

Hugues Cuénod (t), Frantz; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Richard Bonynge, cond. Decca, recorded 1971

Michel Sénéchal (t), Franz; Orchestre National de France, Seiji Ozawa, cond. DG, recorded c1986


IN THIS WEEK'S GHOST OF SUNDAY CLASSICS POST --

We finish up with Tales of Hoffmann.

THE TALES OF HOFFMANN POSTS

"The poet Hoffmann and the legend of Kleinzach" (Sept. 14)
Preview, "The name of the first was Olympia" (Sept. 19)
"Hoffmann just can't get over is 'three mistresses'" (Sept. 21)
Preview, "Our Frantz knows it's all a matter of technique" (Sept. 27)
"Who is the author of Hoffmann's misfortunes?" (Sept. 28)
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Hoffmann just can't get over his "three mistresses"

"It's a song of love that soars aloft sadlly or madly": Nazhmiddin Mavlyanov (Hoffmann) and Hibla Gerzmava (Antonia) at Moscow's Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater

by Ken

In preparation for our quick survey of the poet Hoffmann's account of his three "mad loves," as set out last week, in last night's preview we made the acquaintance of the first of them, Olympia-- the "artist," according to Hoffmann's reckoning. (We'll come back to this in a moment.) As I noted last night, making Olympia's acquaintance is more than Hoffmann did before he fell soul-convulsingly in love with her. (It doesn't help that the poor fellow is literally looking at her through the equivalent of rose-colored glasses, sold to him by one of Olympia's creators, the eccentric inventor Coppélius.) Of course this is only the teeniest exaggeration of the way many of us so frequently fall just as consumingly in love as our poor hero has.

As noted, we're going to sample some of the astonishing music by which Offenbach captured the states of need and urgency and bliss that afflict Hoffmann in all three of his mad stories. First, though, let's meet another, very different object of the poet's passion: Antonia, one of the theatrical literature's great creations.

(Note that we're going to hear a sprinkling of German-language performances today. As with Gounod's Faust, the German-sourced Tales of Hoffmann -- the fantastic fables of E.T.A. Hoffmann, the source of the opera's tales, are standbys for German readers -- was taken up by German audiences if anything faster and more avidly than by French ones.)

OFFENBACH, The Tales of Hoffmann, Act III, Orchestral introduction and Romance, Antonia, "Elle a fui, la tourterelle" ("She has flown, the turtledove")
Munich. The home of Crespel. A bizarrely furnished room. At right a clavichord. Violins suspended from the wall. At left a window. At the back two doors, one the door to Antonia's room; in front, at left, a window casement that leads to a balcony, which is closed by a curtain. Between the two doors at the rear a large portrait of a woman hanging on the wall. The sun is setting. ANTONIA is seated at the harpsichord.

Romance, Antonia
She has flown, the turtledove!
Ah, a memory too sweet!
An image to cruel!
Alas, at my knees
I hear him, I see him!
Alas, at my knees
I hear him, I see him!
[She walks to the front of the stage.]
She has flown, the turtledove,
she has flown far from you;
but she is always faithful
and she keeps her faith!
My dearly loved, my voice calls to you!
All my heart is yours!
All my heart is yours!
She has flown, the turtledove,
she has flown, she has flown far from you!
[She approaches the harpsichord again and continues, standing, leafing through the music.]
Ah, dear flower that has just bloomed,
in pity answer me!
You that know if he still loves me,
if he keeps faith with me!
My dearly beloved, my voice implores you,
ah, let your heart come to me,
let your heart come to me!
She has flown, the turtledove,
she has flow, she has flown far from you.
[She lets herself fall on the couch in front of the harpsichord.]

[in German] Julia Varady (s), Antonia; Munich Radio Orchestra, Heinz Wallberg, cond. EMI, recorded 1979

Rosalind Plowright (s), Antonia; Symphony Orchestra of the Opéra National du Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Brussels), Sylvain Cambreling, cond. EMI, recorded June-July 1988

Victoria de los Angeles (s), Antonia; Paris Conservatory Orchestra, André Cluytens, cond. EMI, recorded 1964

Beverly Sills (s), Antonia; London Symphony Orchestra, Julius Rudel, cond. ABC-EMI, recorded July-Aug. 1972


HOFFMANN'S "THREE MISTRESSES"
THE TALES OF HOFFMANN POSTS

"The poet Hoffmann and the legend of Kleinzach" (Sept. 14)
Preview, "The name of the first was Olympia" (Sept. 19)
"Hoffmann just can't get over is 'three mistresses'" (Sept. 21)
Preview, "Our Frantz knows it's all a matter of technique" (Sept. 27)
"Who is the author of Hoffmann's misfortunes?" (Sept. 28)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics Preview: "The name of the first was Olympia"


Party chez Monsieur Spalanzani! A real doll is Olympia, the first of Hoffmann's "mad loves" (Matthew Polenzani and Anna Christy at Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2011).

by Ken

We heard the ineffable line "The name of the first was Olympia" last week -- five times over, actually -- as the poet Hoffmann prepares to give his crowd of adoring students in Luther's tavern his account of the first of his promised three "mad loves." Now we hear it again, in three languages, showing how hard it is to make the line work quite as poetically in any language but French, where "Olympia," being accented -- like most all French words -- on the final syllable, can stand at the top of the line's upward rise.

We're also hearing the line with a bit more in context this week, including the hauntingly resonant chorus of the students, which we can now hear is the tune that echoes after Hoffmann's ethereal announcement of the name "Olympia," and also including the Entr'acte that follows immediately -- or rather two of them. Cambreling and Beecham use a quiet mediation on the haunting "Écoutons! Il est doux de boire" theme, while Wallberg uses the more traditional first statement of the grand minuet that will be heard later as entrance music for the guests at Monsieur Spalanzani's grande soirée.


STUDENTS: Let's listen! It's pleasant to drink
during the telling of a mad story . . .
STUDENTS and NICKLAUSSE: . . . watching the bright cloud
that a pipe throws into the air!
HOFFMANN [sitting on the corner of a table]: I'll begin.
NICKLAUSSE: Silence!
STUDENTS: Silence!
COUNCILOR LINDORF [aside]:
In an hour, I hope, they'll be dead drunk.
HOFFMANN: The name of the first was Olympia.
[The curtain falls while HOFFMANN speaks to all the attentive STUDENTS.]

Entr'acte

Ann Murray (ms), Nicklausse; Neil Shicoff (t), Hoffmann; José van Dam (bs-b), Councilor Lindorf; Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of the Opéra National du Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Brussels), Sylvain Cambreling, cond. EMI, recorded June-July 1988

[in German] Ilse Gramatzki (ms), Nicklausse; Siegfried Jerusalem (t), Hoffmann; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b), Councilor Lindorf; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra, Heinz Wallberg, cond. EMI, recorded 1979

[in English] Monica Sinclair (ms), Nicklausse; Robert Rounseville (t), Hoffmann; [Lindorf's line omitted]; Sadler's Wells Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham, cond. Decca, recorded 1947-51 (soundtrack of the Powell-Pressburger film)


TONIGHT WE MEET THE FAMOUS OLYMPIA
THE TALES OF HOFFMANN POSTS

"The poet Hoffmann and the legend of Kleinzach" (Sept. 14)
Preview, "The name of the first was Olympia" (Sept. 19)
"Hoffmann just can't get over is 'three mistresses'" (Sept. 21)
Preview, "Our Frantz knows it's all a matter of technique" (Sept. 27)
"Who is the author of Hoffmann's misfortunes?" (Sept. 28)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: The poet Hoffmann and the legend of Kleinzach

"Le nom de la première était Olympia"




Nicolai Gedda, tenor; Paris Conservatory Orchestra, André Cluytens, cond. EMI, recorded 1964

Richard Tucker, tenor; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Pierre Monteux, cond. Live performance, Dec. 3, 1955

Léopold Simoneau, tenor; Orchestra of the Concerts de Paris, Pierre-Michel Le Conte, cond. Philips-Epic, recorded 1958

Plácido Domingo, tenor; Orchestre National de France, Seiji Ozawa, cond. DG, recorded 1986

Francisco Araiza, tenor; Staatskapelle Dresden, Jeffrey Tate, cond. Philips, recorded 1987-89

by Ken

I don't think I have, but it may be that you've heard music more hauntingly beautiful than this tiny bit -- the final half-minute of the Prologue to Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, as the drunken poet Hoffmann offers a tavern's worth of adoring students, hanging on his every word, his promised account of the first of his promised three "mad loves." I've gathered five distinctly different performances, plain and fancy, but all, I think, decently haunting. (Any preferences?)

I've painted myself into a corner here. For a good part of this week it was seeming like the time for the giving up the Sunday Classics ghost. However, while we already had, goodness knows, lots of loose ends that will be left dangling, one that I added just last week is strikes too close to home for me. I explained that last week's assortment of operatic (mostly) drinking songs touches me too personally. (There are times when Hoffmann is my favorite opera.)


I THOUGHT POSSIBLY I COULD SIMPLY
THROW OUT HOFFMANN'S DRINKING SONG

THE TALES OF HOFFMANN POSTS

"The poet Hoffmann and the legend of Kleinzach" (Sept. 14)
Preview, "The name of the first was Olympia" (Sept. 19)
"Hoffmann just can't get over is 'three mistresses'" (Sept. 21)
Preview, "Our Frantz knows it's all a matter of technique" (Sept. 27)
"Who is the author of Hoffmann's misfortunes?" (Sept. 28)
Starting by going just up to the point where something clearly goes wrong with the song.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: I have a song to sing, O!



Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland sing the "Brindisi" from Act I of Verdi's La Traviata, with Richard Bonynge conducting, at the Met in October 1970.
ALFREDO: Let’s drink, let's drink
from the joyous chalice where beauty flowers.
Let the fleeting hour
to pleasure’s intoxication yield.
Let’s drink to love’s sweet tremors –
to those eyes that pierce the heart.
Let’s drink to love -- to wine,
that warms our kisses.
ALL
: Ah! Let’s drink, let's drink to love --
to wine, that warms our kisses.
VIOLETTA [rising]: With you, with you
I would share my days of happiness.
Everything is folly in this world
that does not give us pleasure.
Let us enjoy life,
for the pleasures of love are swift and fleeting,
as a flower that lives and dies
and can be enjoyed no more.
Let’s take our pleasure!
While its ardent, brilliant summons lures us on.
ALL: Let’s take our pleasure
of wine and singing and mirth,
till the new day dawns on us as in Paradise.
VIOLETTA [to ALFREDO]: Life is just pleasure.
ALFREDO [to VIOLETTA]: But if one still waits for love --
VIOLETTA [to ALFREDO]: I know nothing of that --
don’t tell me --
ALFREDO [to VIOLETTA]: But there lies my fate.
ALL: Let’s take our pleasure
of wine and singing and mirth,
till the new day dawns on this paradise of ours.

by Ken

Extra credit if you saw the title of this post and sang back, "Sing me your song, O!"

In a moment we'll come back to "I have a song to sing, O!," but first, by way of sort-of-explainaton of what we're up to today, it's not exactly a rarity in opera where one character or another is asked to sing for the entertainment of a gathering, often with drinking involved. Nor is it a rarity for one character or another to offer a song to a gathering for their entertainment. I have such a scene in mind, and to get there I thought we'd hit some of the more notable specimens, and we've started with perhaps the most famous of all, the "Brindisi" (drinking song) sung by Alfredo, and joined by Violetta, at the start of Act I of La Traviata.

In fact, we're going to hear the full setting of Alfredo's "Libiamo," but first --

"I HAVE A SONG TO SING, O!"

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: "Kaleidoscope" -- a fondly remembered LP happily holds up under decades-later scrutiny


HOW DO WE GET FROM POINT A TO B TO C?

Point A, the opening of the piece (as heard last night):

Shortly we'll hear how we get from there to Point B:

However, Point B leads directly into Point C:

London Symphony Orchestra, Charles Mackerras, cond. Philips-Mercury, recorded July 1961

by Ken

Last week I reported my discovery of a hidden treasure trove (free!) of overtures, F. Reeder's Internet Archive compendium of "Overtures - Recorded 1926-1847)" -- 33 mp3 transfers of 29 overtures conducted by 18 conductors, most of them legendary (e.g., Barbirolli, Beecham, Furtwängler, Mengelberg, Mitropoulos, Reiner, Rodzinski, Toscanini, Walter, Weingartner). That helped nudge me into an overtury mood. I recalled that a happy heap of my listening over the years has been to recorded collections of overtures and related short orchestral pieces.

As I mentioned, this mood inspired me to finally order CD issues of material that had once been part of my "go to" listening material. As a result, we're not going to do much with the Reeder treasure trove this week, but we'll come back to it. Also, I should mention that in a February 2011 post I already flashed back to one of those treasured overture discs, the Capitol Paperback Classics reissue of Erich Leinsdorf's wonderful c1958 catchily titled Opera Overtures LP with the Philharmonia, augmented on CD with some fine overture performances by Felix Slatkin and Miklós Rózsa.

Another of those LPs sprang back to life with the arrival of those ordered CDs: a Mercury Living Presence CD reincarnation of sorts of Charles Mackerras's Philips LP Kaleidoscope. What we heard in last night's preview was the music that more than anything made me fall in love with the original Kaleidoscope. The CD isn't the original Kaleidoscope, exactly. On it material from two LPs is smooshed together (from the Kaleidoscope LP everything is here except two additional Brahms Hungarian Dances, a minimal loss), all recorded at the same time by the legendary Mercury "Living Presence" team of Wilma Cozart Fine, recording director; Harold Lawrence, musical supervisor; and C. Robert Fine, chief engineer and technical supervisor. The domestic Philips LP was in effect a "Living Presence" LP, which explains why it sounded so good. Unfortunately as with the general run of domestic Philips pressings, it could be, well, problematic -- my copy came badly warped.

But that didn't stop me from listening to it a few zillion times, especially the piece we began hearing last night. What we heard was the hushed, haunting opening -- "Point A" in the A-to-B-to-C sequence above. Now here's the whole thing, starting with the Mackerras recording. Then we have that wise old German hand Robert Heger (from a complete Merry Wives recording) and vintage Herbert von Karajan, plus a dip into the F. Reeder overture grab bag, turning up a conductor now hardly known, Nikolai Sokoloff (1886-1965), who does a pretty nice job while squeezing the thing onto one 78 side.

NICOLAI: The Merry Wives of Windsor: Overture


London Symphony Orchestra, Charles Mackerras, cond. Philips-Mercury, recorded July 1961

Bavarian State Orchestra, Robert Heger, cond. EMI, recorded 1964

Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. EMI, recorded c1959

[trimmed (and rushed) to fit on one 78 side] Cleveland Orchestra, Nikolai Sokoloff, cond. Brunswick, recorded May 1927 (digital transfer by F. Reeder)


A CONDUCTOR NOT SO EASY TO "TYPE"

Schedule note

There will be a post today, which will include all of the piece whose opening we heard in last night's preview ("Attention, please!"). But I got bogged down doing some LP dubbing (yes, for a ghost post!). Check back at 2pm PT/5pm ET -- maybe sooner!
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