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).