Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fielder Sinfonietta and E. Power Biggs play Handel

Library of Congress information indicates this set was published in 1939?. Thats "1939?". There is another Handel Organ concerto available on CD by the same players, priced obscenely on Amazon, leading me to believe that it is out of print. This Concerto, No. 10, Op. 7, No. 4 is pure delight. Fieldler's Sinfonietta, composed largely of BSO members of the time, as the Pops would be latter , was a pioneering chamber group that did several world premiers of works written for it, and performed Baroque and Classical pieces with an ensemble smaller than was customary for the time. The playing is tight and stylish, and E. Power Biggs, as always, plays with verve and excitement. He is my favorite organist -- and pedal harpsichordist too! -- so I am delighted to have found this 78 set recently in a local thrift store.

The recording was unusually bright. Usually with 78s I'm fighting booming bass and trying to give the highs a chance to breath; this time I had to restrain the highs, and I hope I got the equalization right. Any comments on it would be appreciated. I'm not opposed to revisiting the final files.

Fiedler was a fine musician, though later on better known for performing dreary arrangements of pop tunes that were better in their original incarnations. Still his "serious" work demonstrates a skilled conductor at work, and he did estimable recordings of many light classics. I hope soon to post enough of them to fill a CD along with this post, which, at fourteen minutes, is not a CD candidate on its own.

Link to all files


  1. Larry,

    This is indeed a fine, fine post. And you are so right about Fiedler. I am looking forward to this one! Thanks!


  2. Thanks Fred,
    Most of Fiedler's recordings are pretty readily available, so this was a nice find. Now if I can only find enough other Fiedler rarities to reasonably "fill" a CD.

  3. Thanks, Lawrence, for this upload (and for your blog)!

    E. Power Biggs and A. Fiedler actually recorded 4 Handel's organ concertos for RCA in the 78rpm era:
    - Nos. 2, 10 and 11 on April 13, 1939 (Harvard's Germanic Museum, Cambridge)
    - No. 13 on March 17, 1940 (ibid.)


  4. Well. there is more "Arthur Fiedler Sinfonietta" out there. Fine orchestra mad up of Boston's superb freelance community and BSO moonlighters. Did you know that Fiedler had an abolute passion for Fire fighting? He often work blazers with fired dept logos and he possessed an extraordinary collection of fire dept helmets!

  5. Benoît: Thanks for the information on the recordings and your kind comments. Where do you get your discographic information? Quartier des Archives has excellent information of that type, and I seem always to be floundering to get the most basic of it.

    Fred: Yes, I did know of Fiedler's fire fighting passion. I grew up in Boston, and lived there until 18 years ago; I remember a Parade magazine cover story in the Globe devoted to Fiedler (wish I'd kept it) showing photos of him with his memorabilia from various fire departments around the country.

    He used to conduct the opening performances of Nutcracker for the Boston Ballet, and the ballerinas I knew then said he like to pinch their bums. Quite a character, as well as a very fine musician.

  6. Lawrence,

    I got this information from the BSO discography compiled by James H. North (The Scarecrow Press, 2008).
    Generally, I try to find discographic information in online databases, such as libraries catalogues (British Library, Library of Congress, NY Public Library, and French National Linbrary), or in more specific discographies (cf. or

  7. Benoît:
    Thanks for the information. My bibliographic/discographic skills can use all the help they can get. Thanks again, too, for the Haydn Quartets by the Hungarian Quartet. I love the Haydn Quartets--right from Op.1 -- and listen to them all the time, so I always am happy to find a good performance of which I was previously unaware.