Sunday, January 10, 2010

Honegger: Concertino for Piano and Orchestra

I'm posting this little gem, a Masterworks 10" LP ML 2156, in large part for the Honegger with Reiner and (as a friend of mine says) the "highly flammable" Oscar Levant. It is a charming piece and certainly not over-recorded. This reading, combining Reiner's consistent discipline and Levant's fiery passion, should be available.

But --oh! -- the guilty pleasure of Ormandy conducting Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faun, topping it off with The Sorcerer's Apprentice of Dukas. Whether Ormandy and the Philadelphia's Debussy is "authentic" (a value of questionable musical import) is of no interest to me: It is gorgeous, tastefully and musically presented, and a pleasure one should feel free to indulge without guilt, like Beecham's late orchestration of Messiah (which is, in truth, very Handelian in spirit).

Link to all files


  1. Hi - I downloaded and listened to this one, never having come across a copy of it myself. Really good. I am unashamed to admit that I enjoy Levant, and have featured him on my blog. But I have to say that I have shared the popular prejudice against Ormandy and have almost none of his recordings in my sprawling collection - however, what you say about this one is quite true.

  2. No shame in enjoying Levant. He can be a virtuosic firebrand, but his musical values are usually solid, I think.

    As for Ormandy. I shared the usual prejudice against him for some time, but I've come to believe he really is a very fine musician, a idea more prevalent in England than in the U.S., it seems. His Prokofiev is inspired and gorgeous, unsurpassed, really, within a more lyrical approach to the music, even if I also enjoy having the more sinewy approach Leinsdorf takes -- one of my other favorite Prokofiev conductors, bringing forward the acid in the score. I simply like Prokofiev both ways. Sibelius too. And his Sibelius and Tchaikowski really are simply wonderful. His attack is usually less strong (or less brutal depending on your mood or point of view) than that of Muti, but when he gets the incomparable Philadelpians punching, it really does matter. He recorded everything, unfortunately, some of which he had no real feeling for. His Bruckner I find just awful. But I find Klemperer's late Schumann symphonies awful too, as well as his Tchaikowski. But I wouldn't be without those late Brahms and Beethoven recordings for the world.

    So I think Ormandy is terribly under-rated. His Bartok, too, is lovely, and I could go on. But I'll spare you, and won't. Thanks for your comments, and sorry for the unpaid advertisement for Ormandy.

  3. Buster and Larry,

    I never have felt embarassed about liking Ormandy and Leinsdorf, two vastly underrated conductors, especially Ormandy. In England he is (or used to be) referred to as "Dr. Eugene Ormandy". Ormandy did so many things so well (how versatile the man was!) that it simply cannot be a fluke that any particular recording seems so fine. Even in the U.S., where Ormandy long has gotten short shrift from the critics, Ormandy's recordings for Columbia outsold those of Leonard Bernstein for the same label, and Bernstein was no slouch (and Lenny, too, is one of my cherished favourites)! The record-buying public had better instincts than the critics did all those long years when the latter denigrated Ormandy.

    Up with Ormandy! Time is bearing out his greatness, as more and more of his recordings (and not just as the almost unparallelled superb accompanist his conducting made for soloists) are reissued and being, at last, reviewed favourably. Now Larry is helping out, himself, in doing the same!

    C.-P. Gerald (Jerry) Parker
    Rouyn-Noranda, QC.

  4. Hi again - I certainly am enjoying the outpouring of love for Ormandy! I'll have to make it a point to listen to a few more of his recordings - there certainly are no lack of them!

    I do draw the line at Leinsdorf (so to speak), however.

  5. Hi Buster. Love the pun -- line at Leinsdorf -- even if I don't share the sentiment. Though I did when I lived in Boston and he was music director. Loathing is not too strong a word for how I felt about him then. I'd like to think I'm getting mellow, not tone deaf in my old age.

  6. Dear Lawrence, thanks to Buster I have just discovered your superb blog! Oh no, and I have too much to do already... well anyway, thank you so much for your wonderful, fascinating choices. All the best, Nick

  7. Nick: thanks for your generous words and good wishes. A lot of folks seem to have discovered the blog through Buster's link; I cannot thank him enough. I've started to get a lot of great comments, and I certainly appreciate hearing from you. "Talking" with those who enjoy what I am doing is very satisfying.

  8. Where can i get a copy of the orignal 10" Columbia Masterworks ML 2156 and how much will it cost??