Friday, December 30, 2011

The Incomparable Leon Goossens - Postscript

Leon Goossens
My Christmas present to myself this year was a new turntable - an Audio-Technica LP120 3-speed direct drive unit - meaning that it will no longer be necessary for me to switch out between turntables to handle LPs and 78s (at least, I hope it won't be!).  Here is my first project using the new table: an LP featuring two oboe concertos played by the great Leon Goossens, as a kind of postscript to the transfers of concerto recordings by him that I offered earlier:

Bach-Tovey: Concerto in A, BWV 1055, for oboe d'amore and strings
Recorded June 1, 1949, and July 30, 1952
Vaughan Williams: Concerto for Oboe and Strings
Recorded June 16, July 7 and September 1, 1952

Leon Goossens, with the Philharmonia String Orchestra
conducted by Walter Susskind
HMV CLP 1656, one 12-inch LP record
Link (FLAC files, 96.04 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 50.18 MB)

No doubt both of these, like the earlier Goossens concerto recordings, would have been issued as English Columbia 78 sets had not the long-delayed launch of LP by EMI in September 1952 intervened.  As it was, both recordings had to wait eleven years for full issue.  In the case of the Bach, an incomplete issue actually did occur in 1953, on American Columbia (ML 4782) - apparently only the first three 78-rpm matrices of the required four were available to CBS, with the result that the concerto, on that release, cuts off about a minute into the finale!

My best wishes to everyone for a prosperous and collectingful New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rubinstein: Two Early Concerto Recordings

Arthur Rubinstein
For what is likely to be my last post of 2011, I present two of Arthur (spelled with an "h" on his earliest recordings) Rubinstein's earliest concerto recordings, which show the pianist, then in his early-to-mid-40s, as quite a firebrand.  The first of these is, I'm pretty sure, his very first concerto recording, with Albert Coates conducting:

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat major, Op. 83
Arthur Rubinstein and the London Symphony conducted by Albert Coates
Recorded October 22 and 23, 1929
HMV D 1746 through 1750 (Album 90), five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 11142.MB)
Link (MP3 files, 56.1 MB)

Rubinstein himself had strong reservations against the issuance of this recording; in his autobiography, he recounts how difficult the sessions were, with the piano placed in the back of the orchestra, far away from Mr. Coates! Nor had he any chance of consulting with Coates before the sessions.  Whatever the circumstances, an exciting performance emerges from these discs, surely one of the fastest on record of the Brahms B-Flat Concerto.  Listen and judge for yourself.

For his next concerto sessions in January 1931, Rubinstein had the services of John Barbirolli, with whom he recorded two works: the Chopin F minor concerto, and this concerto by Mozart:

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488
Arthur Rubinstein with the London Symphony conducted by John Barbirolli
Recorded January 7 and 8, 1931
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set M-147, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 61.15 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 29.1 MB)

This was among the earliest recordings of any Mozart piano concerto.  It was recorded and issued concurrently with Georges Boskoff's of K. 459 on Parlophone and Magda Tagliaferro's of K. 537 on French Decca; only Dohnányi's famous Columbia recording of K. 453 of 1928 is earlier than these.  It also remained in the catalogue well into the 1950's - in contrast to the Brahms, which was displaced by Schnabel's recording of six years later.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shostakovich by the Stuyvesant String Quartet

The Stuyvesant String Quartet as pictured for their recording of the Shostakovich Quartet, Op. 49
This is the second of two posts dealing with the Stuyvesant String Quartet, and presents them in two works by Shostakovich, one of them recorded only a week after the American première of the work by the same artists.  This was the Piano Quintet, Op. 57, which Shostakovich had written the year before, and played the first performance with the Beethoven Quartet in November, 1940.  Here the pianist is Vivian Rivkin, the wife of conductor Dean Dixon:

Shostakovich: Quintet for Piano and Strings, Op. 57
Vivian Rivkin, piano, with the Stuyvesant String Quartet
Recorded May 7 and 8, 1941
Columbia Masterworks set MM-483, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 72.85 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 33.42 MB)

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Stuyvesant Quartet, founded in 1938 by the Shulman brothers, Sylvan (first violinist) and Alan (cellist), had varying inner voices during its first five or six years of existence.  On the Shostakovich Quintet, these are Harry Glickman (second violin) and Louis Kievman (viola).  For the next recording, made the day before the Petrillo recording ban took effect, these had changed to Maurice Wilk (second violin) and Emanuel Vardi (viola):

Shostakovich: Quartet No. 1, Op. 49
The Stuyvesant String Quartet
Recorded July 30, 1942
Columbia Masterworks set MX-231, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 33.45 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 17.13 MB)

At the time of this recording, Shostakovich had written only one string quartet.  This wasn't the first recording of it, but the previous one, by the York Quartet, was already out of print by the time the Stuyvesant's appeared, having been issued on the fly-by-night Royale label.

Before founding the Stuyvesant Quartet, Sylvan and Alan Shulman played in the Kreiner Quartet, founded in 1935 by the violist, Edward Kriener.  This group, with Josef Gingold as its second violinist, made a handful of recordings, including this first recording of Malipiero's "Rispetti e Strambotti", a work that would later become a specialty of the Stuyvesant String Quartet:

Malipiero: Rispetti e Strambotti (String Quartet No. 1) and
Beryl Rubinstein: Passepied
The Kreiner Quartet
Recorded June 7, July 19 and August 14, 1937
Victor Musical Masterpiece set DM-397, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 63.65 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 38.26 MB)

These uploads complete the "reissue" program I have been working on for the last two or three months; I originally offered these recordings in 2008.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The First Electrical Beethoven Ninth (Weingartner, 1926)

Just in time for Beethoven's birthday later this week, here is the first electrical recording of what is, for many (myself included), his greatest symphony.  It features the London Symphony Orchestra, with chorus, conducted by Felix Weingartner, and a solo quartet consisting of Miriam Licette, Muriel Brunskill, Hubert Eisdell and Harold Williams.  The vocal portions are sung in English, as they are on Albert Coates' two recordings of the Ninth - the acoustical one of 1923 which I posted earlier, and the electrical one dating from seven months later than Weingartner's:

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 ("Choral")
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Felix Weingartner,
with soloists and chorus
Recorded March 16 and 17, 1926
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 39, eight 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 154.21 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 68.98 MB)

I had a request for this recording when I posted Weingartner's acoustical recordings of Beethoven and Brahms last month. Although I was a little leery of attempting a transfer, given the rather worn condition of the records, nevertheless they cleaned up better than I had any reason to hope, and so I offer my transfer here.  Happy Beethoven's Birthday, everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Symphonies from Philadelphia

Two American symphonies, one about America which is among the most well-known in the symphonic repertoire, and one by an American which should be far better known, are the subjects of today's post.  Both originate from Philadelphia, and are conducted by the indefatigable Eugene Ormandy:

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 ("From the New World")
Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Recorded December 18, 1944, and January 12, 1946
Columbia Masterworks MM-570, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 93.78 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 50.23 MB)

William Schuman: Symphony No. 3 (1941)
Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Recorded March 11, 1951
Columbia Masterworks ML-4413, one LP record
Link (FLAC files, 80.74 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 36.02 MB)

This was the first recording of William Schuman's Third Symphony, one of his finest works, and was recorded under the auspices of the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation, which awarded the symphony its American Composition Award in 1950.  It was released just a little too late to be issued as a 78 set, though eight 78-rpm matrices (XCO 45351 through 45358) were assigned to it.  Ormandy's recording is far less known than the one Leonard Bernstein did about ten years later, which it complements nicely.  I first offered it as an upload in May, 2007; the Dvořák, however, is new.  Ormandy, though content to play the "New World" straight for the most part, nevertheless indulges in adding, in the finale, two additional cymbal crashes to the one which Dvořák actually wrote. (In fairness to Ormandy, these were probably an inheritance from his Philadelphia predecessor Stokowski.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bloch by the Stuyvesant String Quartet

Ernest Bloch in Switzerland, 1916
This evening I present the first of two posts devoted to the Stuyvesant String Quartet, founded in 1938 by the Shulman brothers, violinist Sylvan (1912-1985) and cellist Alan (1915-2002).  This ensemble became renowned for its recordings of 20th-century quartets, including a number of recording premières.  Among these was their debut recording in the quartet repertoire, the First String Quartet of Ernest Bloch (pictured above in the year in which he wrote it):

Bloch: Quartet No. 1 in B minor (1916)
The Stuyvesant String Quartet (Shulman-Smirnoff-Kievman-Shulman)
Recorded October 10, 1939
English Columbia LX 8511 through 8516, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 113.75 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 51.12 MB)

October 10, 1939, would appear to have been a busy day for the Stuyvesant Quartet, for if one believes the data in a Pearl CD issue of Elisabeth Schumann's Bach recordings (which includes the Mass in B minor conducted by Albert Coates), the same players were in the Victor studios on the same date, assisting in accompanying Mme. Schumann in the "Wedding" Cantata, BWV 202, along with harpsichordist Yella Pessl, oboist Mitch Miller and bassist Philip Sklar.

The Stuyvesant String Quartet's inner parts changed hands several times through its first few years of existence.  The Quartet became inactive for a few years during the Second World War, then were reconstituted in 1945 with second violinist Bernard Robbins and violist Ralph Hersh.  This was the lineup for the remainder of the Quartet's career (until 1954).  In 1947 the Stuyvesant Quartet returned to the recording studio, making three sets for New York-based International Records (reissued as LPs by the Concert Hall Society), among which was a further Bloch recording:

Bloch: Quartet No. 2 (1945)
The Stuyvesant String Quartet (Shulman-Robbins-Hersh-Shulman)
Recorded in November, 1947
Concert Hall Society CHC-20, one 12-inch red vinyl LP record
Link (FLAC files, 77.7 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 40 MB)

This wasn't the first recording of the new Bloch quartet; that had been done five months earlier for English Decca by the Griller Quartet.

I originally offered the Bloch First Quartet in 2008, but the Second Quartet appears here for the first time in my transfer.

Anyone interested in the Stuyvesant String Quartet should look into a fine CD reissue by Parnassus Records, featuring quartets by Hindemith, Villa-Lobos and Quincy Porter, and produced by Jay Shulman, Alan's son.  When last I checked, it was still being carried by Berkshire Record Outlet (at a very reasonable $5.99).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bruno Walter in 18th Century Music

Bruno Walter at the Vienna Musikverein, January 16, 1938
Today I present the only commercial recordings of Baroque music conducted by Bruno Walter (1876-1962), as well as a Haydn symphony recording made on the same day as one of these recordings.  All three recordings were made in that fateful year, 1938, the year of the "Anschluss" - the Nazi annexation of Austria, where Walter, a Jew formerly active in Berlin, had been living and working since Hitler came to power.  (The picture above shows Walter in the green room of the Vienna Musikverein, shortly before his last concert there - which featured Mahler's Ninth Symphony.)  The details on the recordings:

Corelli: Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 ("Christmas Concerto")
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter
Recorded September 13, 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set M-600, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 46.62 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 25.73 MB)

Handel: Concerto Grosso in B minor, Op. 6, No. 12
Paris Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter
Recorded May 17, 1938
HMV DB 3601 and 3602, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 36.38 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 14.99 MB)

Haydn: Symphony No. 86 in D
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter
Recorded September 13, 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set M-578, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 62.66 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 34.15 MB)

The Handel recording is particularly rare, as it received no US issue during the 78-rpm era (although Victor is known to have allocated a set number, M-952, for it).  The Haydn set is rare enough, both HMV and Victor versions having been deleted during the Second World War.  I originally offered the Corelli and Handel transfers back in 2007, but the Haydn symphony is a new upload.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three by the Budapest Quartet

The reissue program continues with three recordings by the great Budapest String Quartet, from three different points in their career.  First is one of their early recordings, from the time when the Quartet's lineup still boasted two Hungarians, and three of its founding members.  These were first violinist Emil Hauser, violist István Ipolyi, and the Dutch cellist Harry Son; the newcomer was second violinist Josef Roisman, a Russian who would eventually become the quartet's leader:

Tchaikovsky: Quartet No. 2 in F, Op. 22 and
Dittersdorf: Quartet No. 6 in A - Minuet
Budapest String Quartet (Hauser-Roisman-Ipolyi-Son)
Recorded February 8, 9 and 11, 1929
HMV Album Series No. 134, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 121.83 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 48.98)

By the time of the following recording, Roisman had moved to the first violin chair, and only Ipolyi was left from the original lineup.  The Schneider brothers (Alexander and Mischa) now occupied the second violin and cello positions, respectively.  This lineup (1932-36) is considered by many to be the Budapest Quartet's greatest, and one of the few recordings from this period that has apparantly never been reissued on LP or CD is this, the only Haydn quartet that the Budapest Quartet was permitted to record for HMV after the Pro Arte Quartet was engaged to do its series for the Haydn Quartet Society.  (This particular work had, in fact, been part of the very first Society volume, but that was already out-of-print by the time this release appeared.)

Haydn: Quartet in G, Op. 54, No. 1
Budapest String Quartet (Roisman-Schneider-Ipolyi-Schneider)
Recorded April 24, 1935
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set DM-869, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 42.36 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 18.76)

Lastly, here is one of the Budapest Quartet's few recordings of a contemporary work, one actually written for them.  Even though Columbia had already successfully launched the LP format by the time of its issue, this recording was issued only on 78s, with the result that it is probably one of the Budapest Quartet's rarest recordings.  By this time, Boris Kroyt had long since replaced István Ipolyi as violist (so that now the group consisted entirely of Russians), and Alexander Schneider had left the Quartet in 1944 to freelance.  He returned in 1955, but in the meantime a succession of second violinists replaced him; at the time of this recording it was Edgar Ortenberg:

Hindemith: Quartet [old No. 5, new No. 6] in E-Flat
Budapest String Quartet (Roisman-Ortenberg-Kroyt-Schneider)
Recorded April 2, 1945
Columbia Masterworks Set MM-797, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 64.08 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 31.15 MB)

A word about the numbering of Hindemith's quartets, which is a very confusing issue indeed!  During his lifetime he published six: Op. 10, Op. 16, Op. 22, Op. 32, and two in E-Flat, one in 1943 and one in 1945 - Hindemith stopped using opus numbers after Opus 50.  (The present Columbia set doesn't identify a number, merely "Quartet in E-Flat (1943)", but the 1943 quartet was published as "No. 5.")  During the 1990s, however, an early Quartet, Op. 2, was published and added to the canon; this - unfortunately - became Quartet No. 1, and the numbers of all the succeeding quartets were bumped ahead by one!  Hence, the Op. 22, his most popular, is now known as "No. 4" where it previously was known as "No. 3"; worse still, the 1943 E-Flat is now "No. 6" - while formerly the 1945 quartet was known as "No. 6 in E-Flat"!  What I wonder is, why couldn't the Op. 2 quartet have been labelled "No. 0" as with Bruckner's early D minor symphony?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sargent's 1946 "Messiah"

The Christmas season is upon us again, and, to help us get into the spirit, here is Malcolm Sargent's complete 1946 recording of Handel's "Messiah," the first of four he was to make of the oratorio, and the first of three with the Huddersfield Choral Society and Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  This was intended to replace Beecham's pioneering 1928 set in the Columbia catalogue, and would, in the American catalogues at least, come into competition with Beecham's second recording when RCA Victor released it in 1948.  Sargent's account of the work is not quite as individual as Beecham's, perhaps, but on its own terms it is very satisfying, and boasts superb lady soloists in Isobel Baillie, soprano, and Gladys Ripley, contralto - neither of whom returned for Sargent's subsequent recordings.  The male soloists are James Johnston, tenor, and Norman Walker, bass.

Among the many felicities in this performance I would like to single out just one - notice what an absolute pianissimo the chorus achieves by the end of "All We Like Sheep."  I don't think that the sense of horror over "and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" has ever been conveyed more forcefully on record.

Handel: The Messiah
Soloists, Huddersfield Choral Society and Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Malcolm Sargent
Recorded July 12-16 and September 26, 1946
Columbia Masterworks Set MM-666, nineteen 78-rpm records
Link 1 (FLAC files, part 1, 173.77 MB)
Link 2 (FLAC files, part 2, 189.86 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 174.7 MB)

As I mentioned earlier this year, when I posted several galleries of Steinweiss record covers of which this "Messiah" set was one, somebody at Columbia had a really wicked sense of humor, making this Masterworks Set No. 666!  I suspect Goddard Lieberson himself had a hand in this - he was head of Masterworks by this time.  Am I the only one who finds this funny?  Look at this picture of the two spines for the two albums - dotted with crosses, as if to ward off the evil influence of the fatal number:

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Flonzaley Quartet and After

The Flonzaley Quartet
Today I present the legendary Flonzaley Quartet in the only complete 20th century quartet they recorded, the Dohnányi Op. 15.  This is one of their rarer recordings; in fact, I am unaware of any LP or CD transfer of this set, though most of the Flonzaleys' other early electrical sets were covered by Biddulph in a pair of double-CD packages during the 1990s.  Well, here it is, in a transfer I originally offered in 2008:

Dohnányi: Quartet No. 2 in D-Flat, Op. 15
The Flonzaley Quartet
Recorded October 20 and 21, 1927
HMV DB 1135 through 1137, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 69.3 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 26.74 MB)

The Flonzaley Quartet disbanded in 1929, but its members (which by this time were Adolfo Betti and Alfred Pochon, violins; Nicholas Moldavan, viola; and Iwan d'Archambeau, cello) continued to work in other quartets.  One of these was the Stradivarius String Quartet, in which Pochon and d'Archambeau were joined by Wolfe Wolfinsohn, first violin, and Marcel Dick, viola.  In 1937 the group made a handful of recordings for Columbia, of which perhaps the most important is this Mendelssohn quartet (again, originally offered in 2008):

Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 3 in D, Op. 44, No. 1
The Stradivarius String Quartet
Recorded January 27, February 4, April 19 and 22, 1937
Columbia Masterworks Set 304, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 59.77 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 24.47 MB)

Violist Moldavan went on to become a founding member (along with violinists William Kroll and Nicolai Berezowsky and cellist Jack Gottlieb) of the Coolidge Quartet, a very interesting group: named after that patron saint of 20th century chamber music, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (whose own String Quartet in E minor the group recorded); they started a project to record the complete Beethoven quartets, but abandoned it after No. 8 when the war and the Petrillo recording ban of 1942-44 intervened.  They also recorded quite a few American works, including quartets by Griffes, Loeffler, Mason, and by their own second violinist Berezowsky, as well as Roy Harris' piano quintet (with the composer's wife, Johana, at the piano).  Their first recording was of this Hindemith quartet (also a 2008 transfer):

Hindemith: Quartet No. 3, Op. 22
The Coolidge Quartet
Recorded May 20, 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set M-524, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 48.93 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 25.77 MB)

Finally, for anyone interested, I have put up three videos on YouTube with my own harpsichord- and piano-playing; here are the links:

Maple Leaf Rag
Hovhaness: Dark River and Distant Bell
"Linus and Ludwig"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bach's "Wachet auf" Cantata (Robert Shaw)

One of the best-loved Bach cantatas, that on the Nicolai chorale "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," is presented today in a recording by that greatest of choral conductors, Robert Shaw (1916-1999).  This cantata was written for the 27th Sunday after Trinity, a Sunday that occurs infrequently, only when Easter is particularly early in the year - in fact, I don't think the next 27th Sunday after Trinity will happen until 2035.  Well, I wasn't willing to wait that long to share this recording.  Taking note of the fact that the 27th Sunday after Trinity was also, always, the last Sunday before Advent, and also of the fact that this coming Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent for 2011, I decided that this weekend would be a liturgically appropriate time to present this recording, so here it is:

Bach: Cantata No. 140, "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme"
Soloists, RCA Victor Chorale and Orchestra conducted by Robert Shaw
Recorded June 25-26, 1946
RCA Victor Red Seal set DM-1162, four 10-inch 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 64.47 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 32.57 MB)

The soloists are Suzanne Freil, soprano, and Paul Matthen, bass, who sing two duets, and Roy Russell, tenor, who sings the recitatives preceding these duets.  For the first of the duets Joseph Fuchs provides a violin obbligato, and for the second, the oboe obbligato is played by Robert Bloom.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Musical Art Quartet

The Musical Art Quartet, 1928
(photograph from the collection of Tully Potter)
This evening, I present one of two recordings made for Columbia's 1928 Schubert Centennial by the Musical Art Quartet (Sascha Jacobsen and Paul Bernard, violins; Louis Kaufman, viola, and Maria Roemaet-Rosanoff, cello), founded in 1926 by four students at the Institute of Musical Art in New York (now known as the Juilliard School), and still in existence in 1941, when Heifetz and Jesús Maria Sanromá made a famous recording of Chausson's Concert, Op. 21, with them.  One of its members, violist Louis Kaufman, achieved prominence later as a violinist in Hollywood (he left the Quartet in 1933), but at the time of the Quartet's founding, its leader, Sascha Jacobsen, was the famous one - he had been yet another Russian-Jewish child prodigy (and, as such, was immortalized in a 1922 Gershwin song, "Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Sascha").  I originally offered their recording of Schubert's A minor Quartet, Op. 29, in May 2009:

Schubert: Quartet No. 13 in A minor, Op. 29, D. 804 and
Schubert: Quartet No. 11 in E, Op. 125, No. 2 - Minuetto
Musical Art Quartet
Recorded January 9, 11 and 12, and March 12, 1928
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 86, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 83.64 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 33.53 MB)

I suppose the Juilliard String Quartet, founded in 1946 and still going strong some sixty-five years later, can be considered a successor organization to the Musical Art Quartet, and so I present them too, in their first recording of Berg's "Lyric Suite" from an early Columbia LP.  The original lineup of the Quartet, consisting of Robert Mann and Robert Koff, violins; Raphael Hillyer, viola, and Arthur Winograd, cello, is heard on this recording:

Alban Berg: Lyric Suite
Juilliard String Quartet
Recorded April 19, 1950
Columbia Masterworks ML-2148, one 10-inch LP record
Link (FLAC files, 73.74 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 32.96 MB)

This was one of my earliest uploads, from May, 2007, made before I had done any transfers from actual 78s.  This recording was also issued as a 78-rpm set, Columbia MM-957, which, I imagine, is even rarer than the LP.  I don't believe this recording was ever reissued on a standard 12" LP.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weingartner's Earliest Beethoven and Brahms Recordings

This is to be my last "reissue" of acoustically recorded material.  It comprises three of the earliest recordings of complete symphonies conducted by Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) - two symphonies by Beethoven and one by Brahms.  I confess that I hesitated before offering the two Beethoven recordings, since Satyr has also offered them, and, in the case of the Seventh Symphony, he had markedly superior source material, since the first record of my set is badly cracked!  So, I encourage you to get Satyr's transfers, but for those who may want to compare American pressings of these recordings against Satyr's English ones, or for those who may want the FLAC upgrades of my transfers, here they are:

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92 and
Weingartner: The Tempest - Dance of the Sprites
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Felix Weingartner
Recorded June 1, 1923, and November 6, 1924
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 1, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 100.02 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 38.27 MB)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Felix Weingartner
Recorded November 27, 1923
Rachmaninoff-Wood: Prelude in C-Sharp minor
New Queen's Hall Orchestra conducted by Sir Henry J. Wood
Recorded December 4, 1922
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 2, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 83.35 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 32.26 MB)

It will be noted that the American version of the Beethoven 8th has a very curious filler, which is different from the filler in the English version - that being another excerpt from Weingartner's "Tempest" incidental music.  Yet another reason to get Satyr's download in addition to mine.

Finally, here is the Brahms symphony:

Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Felix Weingartner
Recorded November 28, 1923, and March 21, 1924
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 9, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 106.16 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 44.13 MB)

There was also something a little extra with the Brahms set - the original four-page leaflet that accompanied the album.  These leaflets are considerably rarer than the records - in fact, of the five or six early US Columbia Masterworks sets that I have seen with the original albums, this is the only one I have ever seen with such a leaflet.  Particularly interesting is the back page where the first eleven Masterworks sets are outlined and described - Columbia was obviously very proud of this (then) new series!  I have included scans of this leaflet in this download.

Earlier today, I fulfilled an intention that I announced on this blog one year and twenty days ago: that of performing the solo keyboard part of Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto on a modern piano.  This was with a local chamber orchestra, Da Salo Solisti, and I was quite pleased with how it went.  I understand that a video was made by one of the orchestral players, whose hobby is A/V production, and I have hopes that it might make it onto Youtube.  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mozart by Catterall and Harty

Arthur Catterall
This is the third and last installment of my Arthur Catterall series, and comprises two Mozart recordings he made with Hamilton Harty, the latter as both pianist and conductor.  Catterall was the leader (first violinist) in the Hallé Orchestra, a post he held from 1912 until 1925.  As Harty was music director of the Hallé from 1920 to 1934, their joint association lasted five years, and it was during this time that these recordings were made.  First came a Mozart sonata, which apparently was the first uncut recording of any sonata (which was, curiously, identified as "Opus 8, No. 1" on the labels):

Mozart: Violin Sonata in A, K. 526
Arthur Catterall, violin; Hamilton Harty, piano
Recorded April 27, 1923
English Columbia L 1494 through 1496, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 53.12 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 20.19 MB)

Then in 1924 came this recording of a Mozart concerto:

Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K. 219
Arthur Catterall, violin, with orchestra conducted by Hamilton Harty
Recorded April 10, 1924
English Columbia L 1592 through 1595, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 77.85 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 28.99 MB)

April 10, 1924 was a busy day for Catterall and Harty, who, prior to recording the Mozart, did the Bach Concerto for two violins with John S. Bridge, second violinist in Catterall's quartet.  That recording can be heard at the CHARM website.

There's a little bonus: I had the original album for the English Columbia issue, which contained slightly pedantic liner notes for the concerto printed on each record sleeve above the window for the label.  Quite a difference from the flowery wimble-wamble printed as liner notes in contemporary US sets!  An introductory paragraph or two appears in a box below the label on the first sleeve.  I typed all these into a text file that is included with the downloads.

The Mozart violin concertos were relatively well-served during the late acoustic era.  Three were available complete: besides this one, No. 3 in G was recorded by Yelly d'Aranyi for Vocalion (which Grumpy's Classics Cave has available here), and No. 4 in D was recorded twice - a famous recording by Kreisler with Landon Ronald for HMV (available commercially from various labels), and one by Riele Queling with Frieder Weissmann for Parlophone.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Symphonies on American Odeon

Today I present two samples from the earliest album set series to be offered to the American record buyer, that of Otto Heineman's General Phonograph Corporation, drawing on masters recorded by Parlophon in Germany, and released on the Odeon label.  (For an excellent article about the American Odeon label, click here.)  The first of these may well, in fact, be the very first complete symphony issued in an album in the USA - ironically, of an "unfinished" symphony - Schubert's:

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 ("Unfinished")
Orchestra of the German Opera House, Berlin, conducted by Eduard Mörike
Recorded November 22, 1921
American Odeon 5008 through 5010, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 55.88 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 22.92 MB)

The Schubert "Unfinished" has the distinction of being the symphony recorded the most times during the acoustic era - eighteen - but only nine of these recordings were intended as unabridged, and this is the first one of those.  I say "intended" because this recording actually omits four bars between sides 1 and 2.

Next is a sample of one of the earliest Beethoven symphony cycles on record.  Perhaps "cycle" is a misnomer, since different conductors were used, but in the twilight of the acoustic era, two companies in Germany vied with each other for the honor of having all the Beethoven symphonies recorded and on sale.  The first to start its series, in 1923, was Deutsche Grammophon (using five different conductors, among them Fried, Klemperer and Pfitzner), but before they could finish (Nov. 1925), Parlophon (using two conductors -Mörike and Frieder Weissmann) had started and finished their series.  All of the Parlophon series were released in albums by American Odeon.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 ("Pastorale")
Berlin Opera House Orchestra conducted by Frieder Weissmann
Recorded November 21 and 24, 1924, and January 21, 1925
American Odeon 5086 through 5090, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 111.44 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 41.71 MB)

When I had both of these sets in my possession three to four years ago, I did not, alas, have a scanner.  The Schubert album even had liner notes printed on the inside front cover, which I did transcribe into a text file that I include with the download.  But I have no way of showing what the lovely purple labels looked like, other than to show this photo of a Richard Tauber record from the same series, that I lifted from an eBay auction:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Catterall Quartet

Label showing Victor sticker for importation into the USA
Part 2 of my reissue series devoted to Arthur Catterall continues with all three complete string quartets recorded and issued by the Catterall Quartet (Arthur Catterall and John S. Bridge, violins; Frank S. Park, viola; Johan C. Hock, cello) - Beethoven's Op. 18, Nos. 1 and 2, and Brahms' Op. 51, No. 1.  (The group also subsequently recorded a third Beethoven quartet, presumably complete, on nine sides - No. 13 in B-Flat, Op. 130, a work otherwise unrecorded acoustically - but this, alas, was unissued.)  Here are the details:

Beethoven: Quartet No. 1 in F, Op. 18, No. 1 and
Tchaikovsky: Quartet No. 2 in F, Op. 22 - Scherzo
Catterall Quartet
Recorded May 8, 1922, and April 30 and June 18, 1923
HMV D 947 through D 950, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 94.53 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 31.75 MB)

Beethoven: Quartet No. 2 in G, Op. 18, No. 2
Catterall Quartet
Recorded June 19, 1923, and May 6, 1924
HMV D 997 through D 999, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 67.22 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 23.27 MB)

Brahms: Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1
Catterall Quartet
Recorded June 18 and 19, 1923
HMV D 791 through D 794, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 89.84 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 31.38 MB)

Included in all three packages is a text file containing information about all the Catterall Quartet's recordings, for both HMV and Columbia, of which I'm aware.

The Catterall Quartet's recording career for HMV effectively ended when the Virtuoso String Quartet was formed by the Gramophone Company in 1924.  The Catterall Quartet moved to Columbia after the introduction of electrical recording, but their repertoire there consisted mainly of potboilers, the only Beethoven being the slow variations movement of Op. 18, No. 5 (the only Beethoven quartet that Columbia's "star" ensemble of the period, the Léner Quartet, didn't record until the 1930s).  Here is that sole Beethoven recording:

Beethoven: Quartet No. 5 in A, Op. 18, No. 5 - Andante cantabile
The Catterall Quartet
Recorded June 16, 1926
English Columbia 9141, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 21.13 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 7.9 MB)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Walton: First Symphony

Sir Hamilton Harty
Today I offer the first recording of William Walton's First Symphony, by the man who commissioned it, Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941).  The ink was barely dry on the score when the recording was made - or at least, barely dry on the finale, for Walton had completed the first three movements, and Harty had conducted them, in December 1934, before the finale was finished!  Then, in November, 1935, the completed work was finally played by the BBC Symphony under Harty, and a mere month later, this recording was made, with the London Symphony.  It was a rare honor for a British symphony to be recorded soon after its première; even Vaughan Williams' Fourth Symphony, completed the same year, had to wait two years for its first recording:

Walton: Symphony No. 1 in B-Flat minor (1935)
London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty
Recorded December 9 and 10, 1935
English Decca X 108 through 113, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 98.94 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 43.88 MB)

The Walton Symphony is a new transfer.  Back in 2008 I offered these two acoustically recorded sets featuring the not-yet-knighted Hamilton Harty, one as conductor and one as pianist:

Bach: Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067, for flute and strings
Robert Murchie, flute, with orchestra conducted by Hamilton Harty
Recorded January 20, 1924
English Columbia L 1557 and 1558, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 45.79 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 17.31 MB)

Brahms: Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114
H. P. Draper, clarinet; W. H. Squire, cello; Hamilton Harty, piano
Recorded October 21, 1924
English Columbia L 1609 through 1611, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 74.98 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 30.35 MB)

Both are first recordings of these works; the Bach Suite is slightly abridged (64 bars cut from the fast section of the Ouverture, and the return of the slow section omitted altogether).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Arthur Catterall and William Murdoch

Arthur Catterall
This is to be the first of three posts dealing with uploads I originally offered in 2007-08, featuring the British violinist Arthur Catterall (1883-1943).  Here are three sonata recordings he made in 1923-24 with the Australian pianist William Murdoch (1888-1942).  The first is an abridged version of Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata:

Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 5 in F, Op. 24 ("Spring")
Arthur Catterall, violin; William Murdoch, piano
Recorded June 6, 1923
English Columbia L 1231 and 1232, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 38.89 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 13.82 MB)

This recording was intended as a replacement for an earlier version by Albert Sammons (also with Murdoch at the piano) that had been issued five years earlier with the same record numbers.  Catterall undertook a number of such re-recordings in June of 1923, not just of violin repertoire but also of piano trio movements with Murdoch and cellist W. H. Squire.  Presumably Sammons was persona non grata at Columbia in 1923, as he was then making records for Vocalion!

The following were not planned as replacements, but as brand-new recordings:

Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108
Arthur Catterall, violin; William Murdoch, piano
Recorded November 18, 1923
English Columbia L 1535 through 1537, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 53.22 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 21.37 MB)

Franck: Violin Sonata in A Major
Arthur Catterall, violin; William Murdoch, piano
Recorded November 18, 1923, and April 11, 1924
Columbia Masterworks Set No. 33, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 75.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 30.06 MB)

The Franck was issued only in America, and even then it took two tries to get it right!  The original issue, Masterworks Set No. 23, had been of only three of the work's four movements, and out of order to boot.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Symphonies from Sir Landon

Back in 2008 I posted three acoustically-recorded symphonies conducted by the Gramophone Company's "house conductor," Sir Landon Ronald (1873-1937).  Actually, he wasn't yet "Sir" when the first of these was made (he was knighted in 1922):

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 ("From the New World")
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Landon Ronald
Recorded November 1, 1919, and September 8 & November 29, 1921
HMV D 536, 537, 587 and 613, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 90.14 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 33.38 MB)

All movements are cut except the Scherzo, and I've spelled out the cuts in detail, in a text file accompanying the download.  As of July, 2010, this had proven my most popular download, with Mediafire calculating 545!  Sir Landon did re-record the "New World" electrically, and complete, in 1927.  This is available from Historic Recordings, in Damian's fine transfer.

Landon Ronald's next recording of a symphony was of Beethoven's Fifth, a work that holds the distinction of being the symphony recorded complete the most times during the acoustic era.  Ronald's version is the fifth, after Friedrich Kark's for Odeon (in 1910), Artur Nikisch's for Deutsche Grammophon (1913), Josef Pasternack's for Victor (completed in 1917) and François Ruhlmann's for Pathé (of unknown date, but surely before 1922):

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Sir Landon Ronald
Recorded in September and October, 1922
Victor Blue Label 55250 through 55253, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 95.07 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 37.89 MB)

I have the original album, a handsome "Music Arts Library of Victor Records" production, and I have included JPEGs of each sleeve, on each of which are printed liner notes in a florid style characteristic of the time.

Ronald also re-recorded the Beethoven Fifth electrically.  He did not, however, re-record the Tchaikovsky "Pathétique" (this job fell to Albert Coates):

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 ("Pathétique")
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Sir Landon Ronald
Recorded in January, May and June, 1923
Victor Blue Label 55240 through 55244, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 123.66 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 42.7 MB)

Sir Landon made two further acoustical recordings of symphonies: the Schubert "Unfinished" (a complete version of 1923 to replace an abridged version of 1912), and the Brahms Second.  The latter can be heard at the CHARM website.  He also made the first electrical recording of a symphony: Tchaikovsky's Fourth (which, again, is available in Damian's transfer at Historic Recordings).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The L.S.Q. and the L.S.Q.

Léner String Quartet
In the early 1920s English Columbia had two different string quartet ensembles that could claim the initials "L.S.Q."  The first was the London String Quartet, which began recording for Columbia in 1914, then about 1920 jumped ship and moved to Vocalion.  They eventually returned in 1924, but while they were away, a different "L.S.Q." came on board - the Léner String Quartet, founded in 1918 by four students at the High School of Music in Budapest: Jenö Léner, Jozsef Smilovits, Sándor Roth and Imre Hartman.  At first they were heard on records only in isolated string quartet movements, usually abridged, but by 1923 they had recorded their first complete quartet, Mozart's K. 465 (a work they never re-recorded):

Mozart: Quartet No. 19 in C, K. 465 ("Dissonance")
Léner String Quartet
Recorded November 7 & 8, 1923
English Columbia L 1545 through 1548, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 81.76 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 31.38 MB)

The following year they recorded their first complete Beethoven quartet - and they would become famous for being the first group to record a complete Beethoven cycle:

Beethoven: Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp minor, Op. 131
Léner String Quartet
Recorded February 11, 21, 22 and August 25, 1924
English Columbia L 1581 through 1585, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 116.2 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 43.77 MB)

The above two sets had the distinction, along with the Léners' recording of Haydn's Op. 76, No. 5, of being the first complete string quartets available to the American record buyer, being part of the initial release of Columbia's new "Masterworks" album series of complete works.  The Beethoven was Set No. 6, the Haydn No. 7 and the Mozart No. 8.  (The first five had all been symphonies.)

In 1924 the London String Quartet returned to the English Columbia fold, their initial release being this first complete recording of Haydn's "Emperor":

Haydn: Quartet in C, Op. 76, No. 3 ("Emperor")
London String Quartet
Recorded December 15 and 17, 1924
English Columbia L 1633 through 1635, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 73.38 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 25.96 MB)

By this time the London String Quartet was being led by James Levey, with founding members Thomas Petre, H. Waldo Warner and C. Warwick Evans covering the other parts.

For those interested in the London String Quartet, I highly recommend a new release on the Music & Arts label, a survey of their concerts at the Library of Congress from 1943-1951.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Early Orchestral Red Seals

Leopold Stokowski, 1924

As I mentioned earlier, back in 2008 I posted a whole series of acoustical orchestral and chamber music recordings.  Most of these were of European (chiefly British) origin, simply because that's where most of this  recording activity took place.  I did offer two American-made sets, however, and here they are:

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 - Andante and
Rimsky-Korsakov: Dance of the Tumblers (from "The Snow Maiden")
Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski
Recorded April 20 and March 19, 1923
Victor Red Seal 6430 and 6431, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 50.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 18.3 MB)

This recording is complete as issued; apparently, there was no thought of recording the entire symphony (which, of course, Stokowski did several times in subsequent years).  An incredible wealth of information about Stokowski's recordings can be found at Larry Huffman's amazing site,

Alfred Hertz

Wagner: Parsifal - Prelude and Good Friday Spell
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alfred Hertz
Recorded January 24, 26, 31 and February 2, 1925
Victor Red Seal 6498 through 6500, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 74.17 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 26.25 MB)

Alfred Hertz (1872-1942) was the San Francisco Symphony's second music director (the first was Henry Hadley), and this was the first appearance on records of that organization, whose concertmaster at the time was Louis Persinger, Yehudi Menuhin's (and later Ruggiero Ricci's) first violin teacher.  Hertz himself was intimately associated with Wagner's "Parsifal," having given the first performances of the opera outside of Bayreuth with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1903.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Marjorie Hayward and Una Bourne

Marjorie Hayward
The British violinist Marjorie Hayward (1885-1953) and the Australian-born pianist Una Bourne (1882-1974) were both veterans of the recording studio as soloists when, in 1918, they began the partnership for which they are best remembered, with an abridged version of Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata.  They went on to do abridged versions of the Franck and Elgar sonatas, which can be heard at the CHARM website, and, with the coming of electrical recording, they set down Mozart's K. 378 and Grieg's Op. 45 sonatas, which Damian's 78s has available for download.  And here is the Beethoven collaboration that started it all:

Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9 in A, Op. 47 ("Kreutzer") (abridged)
Marjorie Hayward, violin; Una Bourne, piano
Recorded February 20, 1918
HMV C 844 and C 854, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 48.32 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 17.28 MB)

Una Bourne's most substantial recording as a solo pianist is this one of Grieg's Op. 7 sonata, which appears to have been the only recording of the entire work made during the 78-rpm era, though Grieg himself had recorded two of its movements in 1903 (the best transfer of these is Ward Marston's, on his own CD label, Marston Records).  It is only slightly abridged, with about a minute's worth of music cut from the finale:

Grieg: Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 7
Una Bourne, piano
Recorded April 20, 1921
HMV C 1023 and C 1027, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 48.24 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 16.83 MB)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Composer as Accompanist

John Ireland
Back in 2008 I offered two different recordings featuring composers as piano accompanists in their chamber works.  One of these was John Ireland (1879-1962), who made at least two such recordings of which I am aware.  One was of his First Violin Sonata, with Frederick Grinke, for Decca in 1945.  This has turned up on a Dutton CD, but I am unaware of any subsequent release of the other recording, that of the Cello Sonata with Antoni Sala, with, as a filler, a solo piano piece by Ireland, which I present here:

Ireland: Cello Sonata in G minor (1923)
Antoni Sala, cello; John Ireland, piano
Recorded October 25, 1928
Ireland: April (1925)
John Ireland, piano
Recorded February 18, 1929
English Columbia L 2314 through L 2317, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 59.62 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 26.73 MB)

I know very little about Antoni Sala, other than that he was Spanish and was the cellist on a fine Parlophone recording of the Arensky Piano Trio, Op. 35, with Eileen Joyce and Henri Temianka, which turned up some years ago on a Biddulph double CD set devoted to Temianka.

Walter Piston
There could hardly be imagined a more different musical idiom than that of the other composer-pianist whom I present here, Walter Piston (1894-1976), in one of his very rare appearances on records as a performer.  Here he accompanies Louis Krasner in his Violin Sonata, a recording which appeared only a month before Krasner's famous recording of the Berg Violin Concerto, which Krasner commissioned:

Piston: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1939)
Louis Krasner, violin; Walter Piston, piano
Recorded November 24, 1939
Columbia Masterworks set MX-199, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 39.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 21.22 MB)

This recording was reviewed in the TIME magazine issue of August, 1941, where Piston is described as an "atonalist."  He was hardly that!  Wonder if the review had him mixed up with Berg?

Columbia had two sets of music by Piston on its catalogue during the 78-rpm era; here's the other one:

Piston: String Quartet No. 1 (1933) and
Cowell: Movement for String Quartet (Quartet No. 2, 1934)
Dorian String Quartet
Recorded September 27, 1939
Columbia Masterworks Set M-388, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 55.52 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 27.23 MB)

The cellist in the Dorian String Quartet was the 23-year-old Bernard Greenhouse; the other members were Alexander Cores and Harry Friedman, violins, and David Mankovitz, viola.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The National Gramophonic Society, Part 2

Paul Juon
Here's the second of two posts to deal with the re-uploads of my National Gramophonic Society sets, featuring two electrical recordings of chamber works in which woodwinds are prominent.  By far the lesser known of these works is the Chamber Symphony by Paul Juon (1872-1940).  This delightful work, which despite its title is really an octet for piano, woodwinds and strings, was published as such in 1905 with a dedication to Julius Block, the agent of Edison who recorded so many Russian musicians on cylinders, including Juon himself.  When I first uploaded this recording in 2007, I had done the side join in the first movement incorrectly, owing to the lack of either a score or a modern continuous-play recording.  Since then I have had access to a score (which can be had here at the Internationam Music Score Library Project), and this error has now been corrected.  Unfortunately the score also revealed that cuts had been made in the last two movements.  Despite this, it's a fine performance, featuring Rae Robertson (one-half of Bartlett and Robertson) on piano, and Leon Goossens on oboe:

Paul Juon: Chamber Symphony in B-Flat, Op. 27
New Chamber Orchestra conducted by Charles Kreshover
Recorded December 31, 1929, by Columbia
National Gramophonic Society 144 through 146, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 61.54 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 28.53 MB)

Leon Goossens also performs on the other work presented here, that of the Mozart Quintet for Piano and Winds, which features Kathleen Long as the pianist.  The ensemble is rounded out by Frederick Thurston (clarinet), John Alexandra (bassoon), and Aubrey Brain (horn):

Mozart: Quintet in E-Flat, K. 452, for piano and winds
Kathleen Long (piano) and ensemble
Recorded March 19, 1928, by Columbia
National Gramophonic Society 121 through 123, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 45.69 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 20.83 MB)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt!

Tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt (born October 22, 1811), and, to celebrate, I'm taking a little break from my reissue postings to offer something kinda fun.  I must say at the outset that I cannot count myself a Liszt fan, although I do recognize his pre-eminent position as a pianist (and oh, if only he had lived a few years longer, he could have left us a recording of his playing!).  But as a composer, it seems to me that he took himself too seriously about 90% of the time.  Of course, most of the Romantics did this, but in Liszt's case, it usually backfired.  I suspect his essential temperament was a fun-loving one - no doubt, he had fun playing the piano! - and the works of Liszt that I usually enjoy hearing are those that exhibit this, such as the Hungarian Rhapsodies and the Mephisto Waltz.  I also enjoy hearing Liszt in "fun" arrangements, such as the one I offer here:

Liszt: Liebestraum No. 3 in A-Flat
Chopin: Nocturne in E-Flat, Op. 9, No. 2
J. H. Squire Celeste Octet
Recorded January 29, 1932
Columbia DX 362, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC files, 22.43 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 9.24 MB)

Perhaps J. H. Squire (1880-1956) didn't intend these salon orchestra arrangements, played by an ensemble consisting of strings, piano, harmonium and, yes, celesta, to be fun, but that's how they come across nearly a century later.  Notice how the two cadenzas in the "Liebestraum" are played by the pianist in the group, as if in acknowledgement of their essential un-transcribability!

A number of Edison Blue Amberol cylinders played by the Moss-Squire Celeste Orchestra, which I presume was a precursor to the Squire Celeste Octet, can be heard online at the USCB's Cylinder Digitization Project.  These are fun, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The National Gramophonic Society, Part 1

The National Gramophonic Society was founded in 1923 by Compton Mackenzie, under the aegis of his new magazine, "The Gramophone."  Its aim was to promote and record complete works of chamber and instrumental music that had hitherto been neglected by the major record companies as being unprofitable.

In my heyday as a collector I had about a dozen of these sets, including the very first issue which is pictured above.  Either through borrowing copies back or working from tapes I had made, I managed to upload nine such sets in 2007-08; three of these I have already posted on this blog.  This is to be the first of two posts to take care of the others.  Here are four acoustically-recorded sets:

Beethoven: Quartet No. 10 in E-Flat, Op. 74 ("Harp")
Spencer Dyke String Quartet
Recorded July 30, 1924, by Columbia
National Gramophonic Society A, B, and C, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 72.2 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 27.48 MB)

Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4 (version for string sextet)
Spencer Dyke String Sextet
Schubert: Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat, Op. 100
Harold Craxton, Spencer Dyke and B. Patterson Parker
Recorded October 10 and December 30, 1924, and January 7, 1925, by Columbia
National Gramophonic Society H, I, K, L, M, N, O, and P, eight 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 198.73 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 69.9 MB)

Brahms: String Sextet No. 1 in B-Flat, Op. 18
Spencer Dyke String Sextet
Recorded May, 1925, by Parlophone
National Gramophonic Society Z, AA, BB, CC, and DD, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 83.87 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 33.06 MB)

Eugene Goossens: Two Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 15;
Orlando Gibbons: Fantasias Nos. 6 and 8;
Purcell: Four-Part Fantasia No. 4 in C minor
Music Society String Quartet
Recorded May, 1925, and February, 1926, by Parlophone
National Gramophonic Society DD, FF, and BBB, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 43.17 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 16.35 MB)

These were first recordings of all the works concerned, and in the case of the Schoenberg, probably the first recording of any of his music.  It should be mentioned that the cellist in the Music Society String Quartet was none other than John Barbirolli, some of whose earliest recordings as a conductor were made for the N.G.S. and can be heard at the CHARM website.