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.
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.