Friday, June 24, 2016

Morton Gould's First Decca and Columbia Sets

Summertime, and the listenin' is easy....or it should be, I suppose. Anyway, it seems a good time to share my latest Morton Gould acquisitions, One of these is his first-ever album, a group of piano solos recorded for Decca in 1940. His association with Decca did not last long; it produced exactly one other set (with a string orchestra) before he switched to Columbia, a relationship that proved much more fruitful. His first album with Columbia (as a conductor) included one of the same pieces as the first Decca set. This was the delightful "Pavanne" - his most popular piece - which he deliberately spelled incorrectly, with two n's, in the hope that ignorant radio announcers would pronounce it correctly!

Morton Gould At The Piano in a Group of His Own Compositions:
1. Pavanne (from "American Symphonette No. 2")
2. The Prima Donna (from "Caricatones")
3. American Caprice
4. The Child Prodigy (from "Caricatones")
5. Tropical
6. The Ballerina (from "Caricatones")
7. Deserted Ballroom
8. Gavotte (from "American Symphonette No. 3")
Recorded October 9, 1940
Decca set DA-195, four 10" 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 66.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 42.12 MB)

A Morton Gould Concert
1. Gould: Pavanne (from "American Symphonette No. 2")
2. Friml: Donkey Serenade (from "The Firefly")
3. Freire: Ay, Ay, Ay
4. Trad.: España Cañi
5. Trad.: Dark Eyes
6. Rodgers-Hart: Where or When (from "Babes in Arms")
Morton Gould and His Orchestra
Recorded c. April-May 1942
Columbia set C-96, three 12" 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 62.98 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 41.70 MB)

Cover design by Alex Steinweiss (?)
The "Pavanne" was originally written for orchestra, but the other selections in the Columbia set feature Gould as arranger. Somehow he works in a reference to Enesco's Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1 in his arrangement of the Russian folk song "Dark Eyes". Of the piano compositions, attention is called to the group for which he coined the word "Caricatones" - for me, the most amusing of these is "The Child Prodigy", in which he works in not only the expected Hanon and Kreutzer exercises but also references to Haydn's D Major piano sonata and Chopin's "Minute Waltz"!


  1. Alternate links:

    Decca FLAC:

    Decca MP3:

    Columbia FLAC:

    Columbia MP3:

  2. Great stuff, Bryan, thanks - I look forward to enjoying these! How did the announcers mispronounce 'Pavane'? Best wishes, Nick

    1. Hi Nick, most of them said "Pa-VAIN" but one is even reported to have said "parvenu" (!) - always while referring to Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess" which was of course the only piece in the general repertoire at that time with the title.

    2. Aha - thanks for that! There were a few Renaissance pavanes in the catalogues - but I wonder how often they got played on air...

  3. Love Morton Gould. A genius. A fantastic composer, pianist, conductor (his recordings with CSO !!!!), arranger and orchestrator........Is there any "historical" version of his Spirituals for Orchestra, besides Dorati, Hanson and the great Susskind ? THX Bryan for these 2 posts ! Jean

  4. really enjoying the piano music. thank you

  5. I remember reading that John Coltrane heard "Pavanne" on the radio and the theme that occurs about halfway through the piece here became his tune "Impressions." And Gould knew this and didn't mind at all. From Wikipedia:
    "Its ['Impressions'] chord sequence is identical to that of Miles Davis' 'So What' (16 bars of Dm7, 8 bars of E♭m7, and 8 bars of Dm7). Both songs originate in Ahmad Jamal's 1955 cover of Morton Gould's 'Pavanne.'