Sunday, April 15, 2012

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
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
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.


  1. Hey, just found your blog- it's tone, neither too informed or too critical fits with mine. Mind you, I haven't read much yet. Best of luck with your son. Mine became so obsessed with the process of playing LPs that he managed to strip off my stylus from the cartridge twice. For the second one, I was removing the cartridge and storing it in a case, but one day I forgot. Two Denon DL 103s got to heaven! After that, the turntable went in the attic. (I didn't have a huge collection, and was nearly through digitizing it.) I do miss playing the vinyl, but we don't have room for it. Something to dream about if my wife can ever become fully employed again.

  2. Just saw your comment below your Ramsey Lewis cover. I'm 773/60202, if that means anything to you. If it doesn't don't worry about it.

    1. Sorry for the very late reply, but thanks for the Chicago reference. I was 312/60611 before I moved to Boston.

  3. Nice to hear about the Monteux. I've got a Super Analog of the piece and would like to get the blue back. Only given a 7 in that blue back guide. You should review it.

  4. I'd have to agree with the 7. It's nice but not one of the best Deccas. I'm just a sucker for French impressionist orchestral music that it's one of the few which I've kept and not sold off. I'll try to review it in the near future per your request!