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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.