Saturday, August 19, 2006


The Rest of the Classical Stuff, and more

I have the rest of the classical stuff (well, the single disc items, anyways, I'm giving up on the Tosci Red Seal DeLuxe stuff for the time being...) from the last haul encoded, and I think it kind of illustrates my point about cruddy recordings...

In this batch, there is a Red Seal shellac recording of Arturo Toscanini & the NBC Symphony Orchestra performing the Prelude to Act 1 and Prelude to Act 3 from Verdi's "La Traviata". Now THIS is a FAR superior recording to the Tosci DeLuxe sessions, at least the one I fought with in the last post. The shellac was much quieter, and it seems as if the recording, while still sounding a bit like it was coming from a canyon, is more defined than the Cinderella Overture on red vynil. Obviously, this was an earlier recording, but still, there's no excuse for a recording that sounds like it was recorded in Mush Canyon, especially when you're trying to release it on a high-end format (at least for that period).

I found kind of a cringer in this lot as well, the Sigmund Romberg rendition of John Philip Sousa's Semper Fidelis march. This is what happens when you get an over-ambitions orchestra doing a classic march, and turning it into something that was rejected for a film score. Yes, it's an orcehstrated version which isn't too awful bad, until you get to the coda..... WHERE THE HECK DID THAT COME FROM??? oy vey and gevalt. RCA Victor, this was not a winner of the catalogue.

At least, his rendition of Lehar's Silver and Gold Waltz passes muster nicely. If this was also film-score bait, then this works. Very nicely done. Note to Sigmund.... put down the marching scores and slowly back away.

Let's contrast this with a Columbia Masterworks pressing of Andre the K (Andre Kostelanetz & His Orchestra) doing Sibelius' Valse Triste. Yes, the engineer rolled off the top end somewhere around 10k, but the performance made me actually sit there and go "" He sure knew how to wave a baton. RCA may have had the better sonic recordings, but sometimes the performance surpasses the sonic incredulity. Andre's version of Paderewski's Minuet in G, even though it sounds like it was sped up in the control room to A-flat, is still a beautiful recording. Nice nice nice stuff.

I found another RCA Red Seal of Alexander Brailowsky, This time doing one of my favorite piano spectaculars, Franz Listz's Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2. OK, it's both sides of the disc, so he takes pretty much all the repeats indicated in the original score. BUT... this is NOT my favorite version of this piece. It is an interesting study in how to slop through some of the really hard bits and still sound somewhat reasonable. If you listen to the last portion of the piece, you'll hear some real schlepping in there... granted I have many versions of this, and most try to master that part (including Irwin Nyreghazi's version, which is the best example of how to power one's way through the piece, irregardless of notation), but Alexander must have had a bad day when this was recorded.

Time for a treat.

Gordon Jenkins wrote this four-piece deal and recorded it in 1949 for Decca entitled Manhattan Tower. The four parts, all combined for you so you don't have to stack up the mp3 files on the mp3-o-phone, are: "Magical City", "The Party", "New York's My Home", and "Love In A Tower". Gordon wrote this as a sonic memento of his living in a suite in one of the skyscrapers in Manhattan for a month while on assignment there, since he was working in Los Angeles as conductor there, but came to New York occasionally for conducting gigs. This was pretty popular around 9/11 for some reason, and I found a copy of this a while back... it's not in the greatest shape, and the de-noise took a few liberties (for which I apologize), but it is still a neat little narrated piece of sonic poetry. Elliot Lewis did the narration, and Beverly Mahr did the solo on "New York's My Home". This was released on Decca's 'unbreakable under normal use' Deccalite media, which, for some odd reason, made it more susceptable to noise. Sigh......

Anyways, we're done with classical for a little while, I have some big band and country swing stuff coming up that should knock your socks off, so check in often, you never know what'll be in the shanty!

Hi, Brad.

Just a slight correction--"Tower" was recorded in December, 1945 and released in 1946.

Which, in the grand scheme of things, hardly matters....

Now to listen to the file. Thanks in advance,

The original Tower. Fabulous.

But I'm going to continue to search for the Complete one which Jenkins recorded around 1956 for Capitol. The one which includes Learning My Latin, Married I Can Always Get etc.

Perhaps one day I'll find it on MoodieToonz - talking of which, I'm about to cross the street and listen to some Ahmad Jamal.

Thanks and best regards - Mel.
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