Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mitropoulos: Fall River Legend/ Ormandy: Cakewalk Suite

This record has been reissued in its entirety by Naxos, for MP3 download only, and even that is not available to anyone connecting to the site from the U.S. So, although there is one nasty skip toward the end of Cakewalk, I thought I would post it anyway, as it is not a record I have seen a lot. I even pulled out the DJ scratch arm that came with the turntable and a heavy tracking stylus/cartridge combination thinking it might track with that. No luck.

I am offering it anyway because I suspect it might be rather hard to find and the music and performances are well worth the effort of digitizing. Gottschalk’s music, as arranged for orchestra by Hershey Kay, is unadulterated fun. There’s no other way to put it. When I play the piece it is hard not to get up and dance about, admittedly looking a bit foolish, but with a kind of “who cares” “devil may care” delight.

Fall River Legend is an altogether different matter. The sad, bloody story of Lizzy Borden is hardly a subject to elicit a happy-go-lucky score, though there are lighter moments of remembered happier times in the music. Morton Gould’s music is filled with deep feeling and a humane if not altogether forgiving sense of Lizzy’s predicament, which, in this historically inaccurate version of the story, sees her facing the gallows at the end – alone, accepting her fate with "bitter resignation", as the notes say.

Mitropoulos and Ormandy conduct their respective works admirably, with special kudos going to Mitropoulos. Kudos to all involved, even Columbia's engineers, who gave Mitropoulos a technically decent recording this time round.

Link to all files


  1. Hi Larry - I have a copy of this LP if you want me to transfer the end of Cakewalk for you.

  2. Thank you, Buster, that would be great if you have time to do it. I only need the fourth track. The record may be more common than I thought, but I haven't encountered it through the years. Let me know what works best for you as far as handling the file. Thank you again, so much.

  3. Larry,

    What a great post! Mitropoulos was one of the strongest advocates of Gould's music and programmed him frequently during his tenures in Minneapolis and New York. In fact, there was some story that on one program, Mitropoulos programmed Gould's Philharmonic Waltzes with, I think, a Mahler symphony and the critics were besides themselves with such odd programming!


  4. I thought I would pass along a trick that I picked up regarding the Naxos historical downloads. The majority of these are available for sale at the Chandos download site, The Classical Shop, and they don't have the restrictions about selling to the USA that the Naxos site does (perhaps because they are third-party sellers). Alas, I couldn't find this recording listed, but much of the catalog is. I recently purchased some wonderful Oscar Levant concerto recordings (Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein & Khachaturian) there. The URL is

  5. ludicrus sextus: Thanks for the tip. Next time I bump into a Naxos "not available in your country" I'll give it a try. Thanks again

    Fred: The NY Critics hated Mitropoulos's programming choices and, for such an ostensibly cosmopolitan place, resisted his attempts to introduce new music. Go figure. For me he remains one of the truly great conductors. Wish I had be able to hear his Mahler live, not just on "live recordings" with compromised sound.

  6. Larry - Here is the fourth track from Cakewalk. Straight transfer, declicked and derumbled, mono FLAC file. Let me know if you need something else.

  7. Buster:
    Thanks so much for this. I owe you!!

  8. Larry...for those who don't know, Hershey Kay's "Cakewalk" is based on the piano works of Louis Moreau Gottschalk. I remember a fine recording made by Fiedler/Boston "Pops" Orchestra, along with "Stars and Stripes", based on music by Sousa. This is another one you might try to locate, on RCA label.