Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Vinyl for the New Year

Hope you all had a wonderful, enjoyable, stress-free holiday!  This year's holiday season brought in a new sound rig in our home ... a Rega RP6 turntable with Denon DL-110 MC cartridge, Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp, and a used pair of MIT ATV2 speaker cables to replace a broken Audioquest cable.  So while I was on a vinyl hiatus for several months, I can't wait to revisit my LP collection with this new system.  I was also able to acquire a series of Decca SXL, Columbia SAX, and EMI HMV/ASD classical recordings from Ebay, a couple different online British classical record dealers, and my recent trip to Berlin, and I will be sharing my thoughts on these and more in the coming weeks.  Some of these I have heard their digital remastered versions and will try to offer a comparison when possible.  Stay tuned!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Album of the day: Mendelssohn's Complete String Quartets with the Pacifica Quartet

Apologies to all for the hiatus ... it was a very very busy summer with unfortunately very little time for blogging.  I did get a chance to do a lot of listening en route to work, in my office, at night at home, and I hope to have the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on some of the finer albums to have come through that listening experience.

For today, however, I just wanted to highlight this gem of an album which I just pulled from the shelf.  If you haven't heard anything from the Pacifica Quartet, then this is an urgent recommendation to give them a try.  They were previously based in my home town of Chicago and they have been recording almost exclusively for the Chicago based record label, Cedille (with a couple of exceptions for the Naxos label).  If you know the Cedille label, then you are familiar with their excellent recording engineering for not just these artists but also others including Rachel Barton Pine, Jorge Federico Osorio, and several others.  This is the only recording of the Mendelssohn string quartets which I own, though I have recently sampled the first album of a new cycle by the Mandelring Quartet.  This one has garnered a great deal of praise from Classics Today (with a 10/10 rating) and Fanfare, and I'm happy to also throw my hat into that ring.  This is a thoroughly enjoyable CD set.  The Pacifica Quartet has a wonderful sense of ensemble, intonation, and musicality.  If any of you have had the chance to listen to other Mendelssohn string quartet cycles and have been able to compare, I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just in ...

The latest to land on my CD playlist at the office ... Mozart's Symphonies 28-41, with the  Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Sir Colin Davis, in a nice boxed set from Decca.  These recordings were originally recorded and released between 1982 and 1991 (I guess around the same time that Harnoncourt recorded his series of Mozart's late symphonies with the Royal Concertgebouw) and were compiled in this collection in 2007.  As you can tell from my blog last month on Klemperer, I've been in a bit of a Mozart symphony phase, so I couldn't resist to check this reissue out when David Hurwitz recently cited these recordings as a reference on Classicstoday.com. 

Will keep you posted on how these sound ...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who's been frequenting my playlist for the last couple of weeks?

Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra!

Yes, indeed.  I just recently picked up several of their releases on the Channel Classics label, including award winning recordings of Mahler's 2nd symphony, Rachmaninov's 2nd symphony, Brahms' 1st, Dvorak's 7th, Beethoven's 7th, and Beethoven's 4th and 6th.  I'm pleased to say that I've really enjoyed these performances from a wonderful orchestra under the direction of an inspired conductor.  They all benefit from excellent recording engineering, and while I unfortunately have not had the setup to listen to the SACDs in multi-channel surround sound, the stereo 2-channel versions are a real pleasure to listen to, either in the comfort of my home or in the car on my drive to work.  Their most recent recording released is an album of Stravinsky, including the Rite of Spring and the Firebird, which is a lot of fun.  I'm a big fan of the Rite of Spring and am always open to hearing a new interpretation.  Although this one didn't quite grip me viscerally as did the release by Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic from last year, it is growing on me.

Stephane Deneve's Debussy album named a Recording of the Month!

Musicweb International just listed Stephane Deneve and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's latest recording on the Chandos label, a double SACD set of Debussy orchestral works, as a recording of the month!  In addition to this, David Hurwitz of Classicstoday.com gave it a 10/10 rating. 

This is totally deserved, in my opinion.  These are beautiful performances in wonderfully recorded sound (and I'm only listening to this in two channel stereo ... I'd love to be able to hear it in multichannel), and this CD will most likely be on my top 10 list for the year.  In my opinion, this album may be on its way to attaining reference status, alongside such great Debussy interpreters as Ernest Ansermet, Paul Paray, Charles Munch, Jean Martinon, and Jean Martinon. 




http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2012/June12/Debussy_orchestral_CHSA5102.htm

http://www.classicstoday.com/review/deneves-vintage-debussy/?search=1

Friday, May 11, 2012

Massenet revisited!

I was just listening to WGBH Boston (Classical New England) this morning when my ears caught an orchestral piece of music that I'd never heard before.  Lo and behold, it was the Scenes Pittoresques, by Jules Massenet -- a charming set of four orchestral movements performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on Naxos.  Captivated as I was, I looked into this further and discovered that Massenet wrote other "Scenes", including the Scenes Alsaciennes, Scenes Dramatiques, and Scenes de Feerie.  Few recordings of these works currently exist.  I counted a total of 3 or 4 on CD, including:

1. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Jean-Yves Ossonce (Naxos)
2. Orchestre de Ia Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Albert Wolff -- a classic Decca recording in early stereo sound (Testament, Australian Eloquence)
3. Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo, John Eliot Gardiner (Erato, Apex)

I think these are highly overlooked orchestral works which probably deserve more attention!
June 2012 BBC Music Magazine Discs of the Month announced:

1. RECORDING OF THE MONTH: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Marek Janowski - Wagner: Parsifal (Pentatone Classics)

2. ORCHESTRAL CHOICE: Danny Driver, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Rory MacDonald - Chisholm: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (Hyperion)

3. OPERA CHOICE: Armonia Atenea, Giuseppi Sigismondi di Risio - Gluck: Il trionfo di Clelia (MDG)

4. CHORAL & SONG CHOICE: Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, Stephen Layton - Howells: Requiem & Other Works (Hyperion)

5. CHAMBER: Nightingale String Quartet - Langgaard String Quartets Vol. 1 (Dacapo)

6. INSTRUMENTAL: Yuja Wang - Fantasia (DG)

7. DVD: Rossini: Le Comte Ory (Virgin Classics)
June 2012 Gramophone Editor's Choices revealed:

1. Ray Chen - Tchaikovsky & Mendelssohn Violin Concertos (Sony)

2. Yuja Wang - Fantasia (DG)

3. David Russell - The Grandeur of the Baroque (Telarc)

4. Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Steven Layton - Howells: Requiem & Other Works (Hyperion)

5. Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside - The English Song Series Vol. 22 - Benjamin Britten (Naxos)

6. Olli Mustonen - Scriabin Piano Works (Ondine)

7. London Conchord Ensemble - Poulenc Chamber Works (Champs Hill Records)

8. Nightingale String Quartet - Langgaard String Quartets Vol. 1 (Dacapo)

9. Bamberger Symfoniker, Jonathan Nott - Mahler Symphony No. 7 in E minor (Tudor)

10. London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Georg Solti - Liszt: Tone Poems & Hungarian Rhapsodies (Australian Eloquence)

11. Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen - Handel: Concerti grossi, Op. 3, 1-6, HMV 312-317 (CPO)

DVD: Vivaldi: Orlando Furioso (Naive)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Speaking of Otto Klemperer ...


Last weekend during Music Appreciation Mornings with my son, I decided to treat him to the Klemperer recording of Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements and Pulcinella Suite, as seen on the left.

Columbia (UK) SAX 2588
Otto Klemperer
Philharmonia Orchestra
Recorded at Kingsway Hall, London, 1962 and 1963

This isn't my copy on the left, but I do own a red label original of the album.  I don't believe that a Blue and Silver label of this album was ever produced.

It was luck of the draw that I happened to stumble across this album at a Midwest record collector's show in the suburbs of Chicago.  Hardly any of the dealers there (back in 2003 or 2004) sold any classical music, but a few threw some classical boxes in with their jazz for sale.  I rummaged through the boxes of one dealer whom I had met before, a quiet older fellow who generally knew what he possessed and charged top dollar prices for his items.  Somehow, I landed on this album, picked it out (the disc was in near mint condition), and asked him how much he wanted for it.  My heart beat nervously.  I had a feeling that this was quite rare and wasn't sure if he was well versed in British Columbia/EMI classical recordings.  Five dollars, he told me.  A sigh of relief.  I handed over the money and quickly walked away.  As it turned out, I found a copy on sale on a British classical LP web site for over 150 British pounds. 

It's really a wonderful album.  Now I don't think Klemperer was well known to be a great Stravinsky interpreter, but somehow this recording is still very enjoyable.  I particularly like the Pulcinella Suite.  The LP has been reissued on CD, but sadly, it doesn't come with the fantastic Picasso cover.
Okay, just decided to pick up one of these new EMI Signature SACD releases.  While there are some that might argue that this is just another marketing ploy to repackage old material, I happen to find this a very attractive item.  For one, the SACDs come in a nice bound booklet case, full of illustrations including color photographs of the original front and back covers of the original LPs, color photographs of the original blue and silver Columbia SAX record labels, booklet notes, information about the remastering process, and other historic photos of the original production of the recording.  I love the original EMI/Columbia LP album covers from the late 1950s to 1960s ... beautiful artwork on laminated front covers.  On the left is the actual cover of the SACD purchase; below it you will find the cover art for the albums contained within.
 

As you can see, I went with the Philharmonia Orchestra recordings of the last six Mozart symphonies with Otto Klemperer.  I've been in a Mozart and Haydn symphony phase, rediscovering older and more recent recordings of the late Mozart symphonies as well as Haydn's Paris and London Symphonies.  As part of this musical re-exploration, I decided to add this set to my collection.  As much as I'd love to, I don't own these on LP, and I figured I'd go with the most recent incarnation of the recordings.  As far as I can tell after listening to the first SACD, the tape hiss appears to be relatively minimal, and the recording sounds very clear with good dynamics.  Repeated listening with comparison to other interpretations (Harnoncourt, Marriner, Bohm, etc) will hopefully provide greater appreciation for these.

If you happen to have any personal recommendations for Mozart symphony cycles, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sound the Bells!

Just arrived in my office and have decided to usher in the morning with some brass fanfares.  Sound the Bells!  American Premieres for Brass is a recent album from the end of 2011 featuring the Bay Brass, a San Francisco-based ensemble, in a performance of several first recordings of American composers including John Williams, Michael Tilson Thomas, Morten Lauridsen, Bruce Broughton, Kevin Puts, and Scott Hiltzik.  I don't normally run out and buy CDs or LPs of brass music, but something about this album -- whether it be the American repertoire, the generally wonderful sound quality of Harmonia Mundi recordings, or maybe just that I don't really own a CD of brass music -- motivated me to pick this one up.  Now while I can't say that I listen to this disc all the time, there's an occasion for everything.  I'm a morning person, and I happen to find the glorious sound of brass instruments a nice celebratory way to get my work day going.  I particularly like the John Williams compositions, which have a similar flavor to his Olympic Fanfare.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gramophone Award winners for May

The Gramophone Editor's Choices for May are:


1. Rafal Blaechacz Plays Debussy and Szymanowski  - Rafal Blaechacz - (Deutsche Grammophon) DISC OF THE MONTH

2. Ysaye: Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27 - Tai Murray - (Harmonia Mundi)

3. Brahms: Works for Chorus and Orchestra - Collegium Vocale Gent & Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, Philippe Herreweghe - (PHI)

4. Tune thy Musicke to Thy Hart - Stile Antico & Fretwork - (Harmonia Mundi)

5. Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem - Katharine Fuge (soprano), Matthew Brook (bass), Monteverdi Choir & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner - (SDG)

6. Medtner: Arabesques, Dithyrambs, Elegies - Hamish Milne - (Hyperion)

7. Shostakovich: Piano Concertos - Alexander Melnikov, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis - (Harmonia Mundi)

8. Manuel de Falla: Works for Stage and Concert Hall - BBC Philharmonic, Juanjo Mena -  (Chandos)

9. Beethoven: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 7 - Peter Cropper (violin), Moray Welsh (cello) & Martin Roscoe (piano) - (Somimage)

10. Dvorak: Cello Concerto - Zuill Bailey, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Jun Markl - (Telarc)

11. Schubert: Chamber Works - Busch Chamber Ensemble, Rudolf Serkin - (Regis) - REISSUE OF THE MONTH

12. Mozart - Die Zauberflote, K620 - Günther Groissböck (Sarastro), Saimir Pirgu (Tamino), Albina Shagimuratova (Queen of the Night), Genia Kühmeier (Pamina), Ailish Tynan (Papagena), Alex Esposito (Papageno) & Peter Bronder (Monostatos), Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala & Choir of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala, Roland Böer (conductor) & William Kentridge (stage director) -  (Opus Arte La Scala Collection) - DVD OF THE MONTH, BLUE-RAY OF THE MONTH


If you're reading this, I'd love to hear your comments about these selections!

I can attest to the Medtner and Shostakovich recordings, which I own, but I'm interested in the Rafal Blaechacz Debussy/Szymanowski, Manuel de Falla, and Beethoven Trio albums.  Also, has anyone heard the new Beethoven Complete Trios performed by the Trio Wanderer on Harmonia Mundi?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Behzod Abduraimov

Decca is really promoting a number of very talented young pianists.

Last year it was Benjamin Grosvenor, this year it is Behzod Abduraimov, a highly talented artist from Uzbekistan and winner of the 2009 London International Piano Competition.  Here's his promotional video for his debut album coming out later this month.

Debussy a la Stephane Deneve!

Now here's an album I'm eager anticipating!  I've already pre-ordered my copy from the UK classical music dealer, Presto Classical (it's official release date is 4/30/12, at least in the UK).

I had the privilege to hear Stephane Deneve conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra earlier this year in a concert of Ravel (Mother Goose Suite), Stravinsky (Concerto for Piano and Winds, with Peter Serkin), and Shostakovich (Symphony No. 5).  The concert blew me away.  I had not heard of Deneve prior to this performance (though he has received many positive reviews for his records of the orchestral works of Albert Roussel), but his talent was imprinted in my mind afterwards.  Now he's releasing an album on Chandos of orchestral music of one of my favorite composers ... I can't wait!
My quest to rediscover my LP collection has transformed into Music Appreciation Time with my 8 month old son.  Weekend mornings, we're both up at a little after six, and then it's breakfast time.  After he gets his banana, pear sauce, and sips of water, we head on over to the living area for playtime.  That's also when I use the opportunity to introduce his young ears to the wonderful world of music.  Last weekend, we explored a couple of Mercury Living Stereo and London FFSS albums:

Mercury Living Stereo
SR90136
Carpenter: Adventures in a Perambulator; Phillips: Selections from McGuffey's Readers
Howard Hanson
Eastman-Rochester Orchestra
Recording director: Wilma Cozart
Musical director: Harold Lawrence
Engineer/technical supervisor: C.R. Fine
Tape-to-disc-transfer: George Piros
Recorded at th Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, October 28, 1956

What perfect music to play for your infant.  I had never heard of a perambulator before I picked up this record, but I'm pretty sure we have our own modern version of a perambulator right in our home.  Wonderful, charming music that depicts the pleasant imagery of a child's journey in a stroller.  Nicely recorded sound.  I always liked how Mercury recorded a lot of compositions of contemporary American composers, many of which were conducted by Howard Hanson for these recordings.  Though this album is not one of the most valuable Mercuries, I think it is still relatively hard to find.  I somehow managed to find a copy at a used bookstore in Wrigleyville.

 
Decca Record Co. Ltd.
CS 6235
Encores
Julius Katchen, piano
Recorded 1961

What a wonderful pianist with a tragically short life.  Katchen was an American, born in New Jersey in 1926.  Sadly, he succumbed to cancer at the young age of 42.  This is a nice album of shorter solo piano works with such pieces as the Chopin Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53; the Chopin Fantasie-Impromptu, Op. 66; etc.  He made a number of other recordings for London/Decca, including the Beethoven Piano Concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra as well as a beautiful disc of the Brahms Violin Sonatas with Joseph Suk.


Decca Record Co. Ltd.
CS 6248
Debussy: Prelude a l'apres midi d'un faune, Nocturnes; Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte, Rapsodie espagnole
Pierre Monteux
London Symphony Orchestra
Recorded 1962

What can I say? I love music of Debussy and Ravel and can't get enough of their recordings.  It's been a while since I listened to this album, but I was reminded of how dynamic these performances are when playing it for my son.  Decca really had nice clarity to their recordings in the 1960s, and this record is another testament to this observation.  Monteux wasn't the only one to record Debussy and Ravel for Decca during this time period.  You'll also find classic interpretations of the French impressionists from Ernest Ansermet and Ataulfo Argenta.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Decca Music Group Limited
478 3206
Chopin - Liszt - Ravel
Benjamin Grosvenor
Executive producer: Ben Pateman
Recording producer: Simon Kiln
Recording engineer: Arne Akselberg
Recorded Lyndhurst Hall, Air Lyndhurst Studios, London, April 23-26, 2011

This is a phenomenal disc.

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical about purchasing this debut album from the 18 year old British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor.  I mean, could his performances of all four of the Chopin Scherzos and the Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit compare to some of the most well known performances of these works?  (He also performs three Chopin nocturnes, two Chopin pieces transcribed by Liszt, and Liszt's En reve.)  I've got recordings of the Chopin performed by Rubinstein and Horowitz (both on vinyl and on CD) among others, and there are many enjoyable Gaspards on the market (I have Argerich live at the Concertgebouw, Steven Osborne's recent Ravel compilation, Thibaudet, Pascal Roge), but somehow, I've found myself coming back to this CD day after day after day.  There's something just mesmerizing about Grosvenor's playing ... his touch, his use of dynamics, his virtuosity and clarity in fast passages, his lyricism and phrasing in slower passages ... I can't quite explain it.  I love the way he attacks the opening measures of the Scherzo in B minor and find his placement of accents perfect.  The Gaspard is superb.  I never used to spend a great deal of time listening to the second movement (Le Gibet) but have been looping this track at least 3-4 times now as I write this!  I have absolutely no regrets about purchasing this album and look forward to many more enjoyable hours listening to it.  Furthermore, I'm eager anticipating this young and highly talented artist's future albums to come!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vik (A Product of Radio Corporation of America)
LX-1075

Mam'selle Gisele

Gisele MacKenzie
George Siravo, Sid Bass, Neal Hefti, conductors
Producer/director: Herman Diaz, Jr
Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, December 10, 11, and 13, 1956

I just gave this disc a spin on the turntable as my wife and I were having dinner this evening.  It's been at least one year since I last listened to this album, and I nearly forgot how wonderful of an album this is.  If you have any appreciation for French song, I think you'll really enjoy this album.  It's got a very nice collection of well known French songs from the first half of the twentieth century ("C'est si Bon", "Autumn Leaves", "La Vie en rose", "Sous le ciel de Paris", etc.) as well as a few pieces from the American songbook ("September in the Rain") sung with French lyrics.  For me, this album conjures up images of post-WWII Paris ... outdoor cafes in the Quartier Latin, strolling along the River Seine, a scene right out of a Doisneau photograph.  Before purchasing this album at a Reckless Records in Chicago, I had never heard of Gisele MacKenzie.  She's actually a Canadian-born singer, but as a native of Winnipeg, she spoke French fluently.  She started playing the piano at the age of three and took up the violin at age seven.  By the age of fourteen, she was enrolled at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.  She later became a well-known television (she had her own weekly TV show on NBC) and recording artist, which is how she gained her popularity in the states.  Gisele has a very warm voice, and I think that she brings a lot of life to the French repertoire on this album.  The orchestral/band arrangements are excellent and complement her quite well.  Fortunately, this album was remastered onto CD in 2002 by the Japanese as a limited edition with a nice attractive LP-style cover, which one can purchase online for a price ($50-60 on Amazon.com).  Or, if you like to hunt, you can check around your local used LP shops to try to find an original vinyl pressing (mine was $3.99).

Here are a couple of the notes from the back cover which you'll often see on pre-stereo records of this era:

"This is the 'New Orthophonic' High Fidelity Recording.  It is distinguished by these characteristics: 1. Complete frequency range.  2.  Ideal dynamic range plus clarity and brilliance. 3. Constant fidelity from outside to inside of record. 4. Improved quiet surfaces."

"Beware the Blunted Needle!  A blunted or chipped needle can permanently damage your most valuable records."

Friday, March 2, 2012


Here's a video from EMI promoting the latest release of Russian-born conductor Vasily Petrenko, who is currently the Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and whom I think is one of the most exciting young conductors on the international classic music scene today.  I picked up a couple of his recent releases on the British label Avie Records, namely a recording of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, Isle of the Dead, and The Rock; and a recording of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto Nos. 1 and 4 with the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski.  I thoroughly enjoyed both of these recordings for their dynamic performances and excellent sound, so I decided to give Maestro Petrenko's debut release on the EMI lael a try.  This CD contains Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3, coupled with the Caprice Bohemien and Vocalise.  This video served as a spoiler for me, too, and I can say that after hearing the first few minutes of the first movement of the Symphony No. 3, I was hooked.  Although I'd heard Rachmaninov's second symphony several times (whose heart doesn't melt with the opening bars of the Adagio movement?), this was actually my first exposure to this work and I loved it.  Take a listen yourself and let me know what you think!

In response to an insightful reader, I've pasted a link to a Youtube clip of the first two movements of the Scythian Suite as conducted by Antal Dorati with the LSO on Mercury SR90006.  I unfortunately couldn't find a clip of the Love for Three Oranges Suite, but hopefully you can still appreciate part of this famous recording!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mercury Living Presence
SR90006

Prokofiev: Love for Three Oranges Suite, Scythian Suite

Antal Dorati
London Symphony Orchestra
Recording director:  Wilma Cozart
Recording engineer/supervisor:  C. R. Fine
Musical editor:  Harold Lawrence
Tape-to-disc transfer:  George Piros
Recorded at the Watford Town Hall, July 4, 1957

One of the very best Mercury Living Stereo recordings from the 1950s-60s.  This album is well known to most classical LP audiophiles and has the distinction of making it to Harry Pearson's The Absolute Sound Super LP list.  It was also released in mono as Mercury MG-50157.  I picked up my stereo copy (stampers FR4/FR2) at the Princeton Record Exchange while I was still in medical school.  It is quite a stunning record, both in terms of sound quality as well as performance.  Personally, I favor the Love for Three Oranges Suite over the Scythian Suite, but both are given very dynamic performances on this disc.  The famous March from the LOTOS packs quite a punch.  Compared to a lot of other Mercury recordings, this one seems to have a quieter surface and less background hiss, which really allows the listener to appreciate the dynamic range of this record.

One of the things I like about reading the liner notes of these Mercury Living Stereo recordings is the "Hi-Fi Facts", which follows the program notes and precedes the list of "Other Mercury LIVING PRESENCE High Fidelity STEREO RECORDS for your record library".  For this album, "three especially sensitive microphones were plaed in experimentally-determined positions in front of the orchestra, which was seated in normal concert position.  The three resulting channels of sound were later incorporated into a two-channel master tape, and the orchestral sound is thus spread evenly before the listener in an unbroken front of sound."

If you aren't able to land a vinyl copy of this wonderful album, you can still appreciate it on CD.  It was first issued on CD in 1991 but has since been rereleased as part of a boxed set from 2005 entitled "Antal Dorati Conducts", which also happens to include several tracks from a number of Antal Dorati's famous recordings for Mercury.  For about $20, this 5 CD set is a pretty good bargain.

For those of you who are reading, I'd be interested to know if you have any other favorite recordings of these compositions, either in analog or digital.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Welcome!


Welcome to From Miles to Mozart!

The creation of this blog marks the 10 year anniversary of when I first started to seriously collect classical and jazz records, a hobby which I picked up during the year I lived on the outskirts of Washington, DC and which has traveled with me back to my hometown of Chicago and then on to Boston where I currently reside. While 10 years is probably beans compared to how long most other die hard LP and CD collectors have been at this, they've been a blast, and I've learned a lot about various aspects of record collecting, audiophilia, and music in general. I've spent my share of free time diving into record bins at used book and record stores, record fairs, moving sales, people's basements ... you name it. While it can be frustrating to travel miles to someone's home to find hundreds of Mantovani and Jackie Gleason records (not that there's anything wrong with them), there are those occasional eureka moments when you stumble across something like a rare British Columbia stereo recording of Otto Klemperer conducting Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite in mint condition for 5 bucks, an early wide-band English Decca pressing of Ernest Ansermet conducting Petrouchka in stereo for 1 dollar, or a shrink-wrapped copy of Kenny Dorham's Una Mas, Blue Note New York USA pressing, for 75 cents. Sadly, those types of moments are very rare nowadays in the world of Ebay, when anyone who digs up their old record collection believes that they have rediscovered gold and offers it to the auctioning world at inflated prices. Such is life. Regardless, I was able to build up a reasonable LP collection and have had the privilege of being able to appreciate the wonderful legacy left behind by a host of absolutely stellar musicians. As I enter into the next decade of music collecting, I find myself purchasing more CDs and SACDs than LPs. Not that I've abandoned the world of vinyl -- not at all -- but I'd like to be able to support the growing group of highly talented classical and jazz artists who have just as much to share with us (if not more) as did past masters. In parallel, though, I've decided to revisit the items of my record collection. My hope is to be able to share some of my observations as I listen again to these records and if possible, throw in tidbits of history behind some of them. Once in a while, I'll do some side by side comparisons between different recordings of the same composition. And from time to time I'll share some of the stories from my record hunting days.

Okay, here we go!