Sunday, January 24, 2010

Casadesus Mozart Munch and Barbirolli

The recording presented here is from a record of two wonderful Mozart recordings by the incomparable Robert Casadesus. I'm posting only the Barbirolli recording, because the performance with Munch has tracking problems at the beginning of the first movement on my copy. Fortunately, however, the very useful blog Quartiers des Archives by Benoit has the missing half of this record. If you follow the link you will be able to download his posting of the Munch recording from an earlier LP release than this one.

I am nonetheless very pleased to be able to offer the Barbirolli and Casadesus recording of the 27th Concerto, K.595, from a period of Barbirolli's career that is unjustly maligned. I think you will find him a very sympathetic accompanist to the Mozartian magic of Robert Casadesus; his individual solutions here and there to certain problems of phrasing are idiomatic and charming. Anyone familiar with the great recordings of his later years will realize that he did not suddenly become a great conductor out of an artistic nadir to which some critics still consign his early career. If he grew as a musician -- and he did -- all the better. But to dismiss his New York Philharmonic period just because NY critics of the time were in a pout that he was not Toscanini, is to miss some very satisfying performances. An early recording he did of the Sibelius Second Symphony (which I unfortunately do not own) demonstrates eloquently what would later be proved beyond any doubt: he had a real genius for the great Finnish composer. He began as an accomplished musician and became a great one. One cannot really blame him for one of the many periods where the NY. Philharmonic goes to pieces, though it rises quite nicely to the occasion on this recording.
( A performance of the Sibelius 2nd symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1964, in need of some re-equalization, can be found here:

Link to FLAC and MP3


  1. The "After Life of Poor Music Journalism" is something that bothers me greatly. Aside from the fact that many music critics of the past were poor musicians, better at writing than in the prior need to listen astutely, the musical milieu in which they moved and wrote long ago lost whatever pertinence it once may have had. To cite a double example of a superb recording that featured two artists long abominated by many critics (but not by all, fortunately, including David Hall, who praised it early on), consider Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" conducted by Barbirolli leading the selfsame New York Philharmonic, with, of all people, Michel Piastro playing the famous violin solo within the work, and playing it famously well! (Columbia X-185, two twelve-inches 78 r.p.m. discs). Piastro, indeed, went on to make many "semi-classical" and pop recordings, which put him into contempt so far as the snobs were concerned, but he plays this fiddle music with wonderful fire and grace, and, for his part, Barbirolli's conducting is superb. This still remains the first recording (of which I have had the 78 r.p.m. set for many long years) for which I reach when I feel like listening to this music.
    Barbirolli was not Toscanini, but neither was Toscanini Barbirolli, but "So what?" Both were great conductors, even at this point in Sir John Barbirolli's career.

    Do not be surprised if Casadesus did well to have Barbirolli at the orchestral helm of this Mozart piano concerto. As far as Casadesus is concerned, others played Mozart as well, but I do not think anyone played that composer better than Casadesus did. Nearly every recording that Casadesus made comes near to definitive status for the music in hand.

    Gerald Parker

  2. sorry, but the first track of the concert 27 is damaged, please re up, thanks for share good music.

  3. Is it the FLAC or MP3 file that is damaged?

  4. It is the FLAC. Thanks a lot, anyway !

  5. OK, I"ll repost after verifying that the original .zip file is OK.

  6. Thanks, Lawrence.
    Magnificent performance, très jolie Cover and sensational blog...

    ...What else?

    Thanks to you, I did find Benoit's counterpart,
    and that's double of remercis pour vous!

  7. It is a nice cover, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by; I am happy you enjoyed the performance and that you found the other concerto on Benoit's blog, which is really excellent.

  8. Martino: Sorry for the long delay, but I have finally re-upped the FLAC file. Thanks for pointing out the problem.

  9. Magnificent recording, one of the first (if not the very first) made at ‘The Church’, the Columbia 30th Street Studio (207 East 30th Street, formerly the Adams-Parkhurst Memorial Presbyterian Church) renowned for its sound qualities. I came here from the superb Quartiers des Archives and I am simply delighted with Vinyl Fatigue! Very many thanks for your thoughtful and literate posts.

  10. Amendment to my prior comment: this was not recorded at 'The Church' (the other concerto on this LP was) since it was done on 3 November 1941, and the 30th Street Studio was not yet in operation. Sorry 'bout that!