Tuesday, July 5, 2022

E. Power Biggs plays Organ Music of Spain and Portugal


This record is one of the most interesting of E. Power Biggs' many compelling recordings.   He presents several organs from the Iberian peninsula in all their quirky glory. The music demonstrates the various organ's unique potentials, from ferocious to dainty, quite well, and no doubt was chosen for that reason.  It is delightful and sometimes fun.  It was released in 1957, in the issue I own, and the only reissue, as far as I can tell,  was in Australia on the Coronet LP. Discogs gives no date for that.

Since Biggs is one of my favorite musicians, I find it shocking that so little was ever available on CD, which is by now , I realize, a dying format.  Some of Bach's most popular pieces came out, but Biggs recorded prolifically and and the oeuvre is meagerly represented on CD.  His Buxtehude at Lüneberg: The Glory of the Baroque Organ  seems never to have made it, and it might well be titled, "The Glory of E. Power Biggs Playing Baroque Organ."  

I'll stop preaching. But do download and enjoy these neglected and delightful gems: 


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Fritz Mahler conducts Brahms Hungarian Dances

Brahms Hungarian Dances 

Fritz Mahler / Hartford Symphony Orchestra 

There are not a lot of Fritz Mahler LP's floating around, and I was delighted to find this one, signed by the conductor himself. The son of a first cousin of the great composer Gustav Mahler, conducted the  Erie Philharmonic from 1947 to 1953 before moving to Harford and leading the  Hartford Symphony Orchestra until 1964.  His first permanent engagement in the U.S. came in 1935 when he became music director of the Philadelphia's La Scala Opera Company (that's not an error). I assume he left Europe due to the rise of the Nazi's in Germany and the war, but nothing is mentioned that I can find other than his experiencing, "major changes in both his private and professional life." from 1935 to 1947.  "https://mahlerfoundation.org/mahler/family-tree/generation-6d/fritz-mahler-1901-1973/  

The performances themselves are well done and enjoyable. Orchestrations are by Brahms for 1,3, and 10; Andraeas Hallen for 2,4, and 7; Albert Parlow for 5 and 6; and Antonin Dvorak for 17-21.  Quite a mix. Nonetheless, they work well as a set. Enjoy!

All files are here:  https://www.mediafire.com/folder/952jhxr78mxus/F._Mahler_Hartford_19_Hungarian_Dances

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Reiner 1949 Brandenburg Concertos

Reiner Brandenburg Concertos

1949 Recordings

To say that I am not fully satisfied with these renovations is an understatement, but the extent of my dissatisfaction varies from mild to substantial. But looking back on a Facebook post, I realize I started work on the records two years ago, dropped the project because I didn't like my work, and picked it up again recently. I don't dislike my work as much as I did, and sometimes I almost think it's OK. Nonetheless, having done it, I figured I'd put it up and let others decide. The performances are well represented in digital form, including a Pristine Classical restoration with wonderful sound that I nonethless find too souped-up to represent the chamber group employed. I'd rather listen to my old LP's.  But whatever your reaction to these sound files, do by all means find a digitization of the performances that you can enjoy. They are quite modern for their day and musically satisfying for any era.  Brisk and beautifully played by some of the best soloists New York offered at the time.  

The first two concertos, volume one of the three LP set are from the original release in 1950, and the above art work uses it, photoshopped,  to announce this post.  The beginning tracks of the first concerto were the most challenging to renovate.  The other four concertos, 3-6 are from Harmony releases in the late 1950's, with better surfaces.

Files can be found in these links: 




Horszowski, Katims, Schneider, Miller Play Mozart and Beethoven

New York Quartet
Horszowski, Katims, Schneider, Miller
Play Mozart and Beethoven

This lovely performance from 1953 of these two works does not seem to have made it to CD, though it is digitized in the internet archive, where one can also find the text from the back of the LP jacket. As musicological information about the works can be found elsewhere, I don't have much to add. I found the LP only recently, cleaned it, played it, liked it, and after finding it unrepresented on CD, decided to digitize and clean up the record and post it. Flac and mp3 files, along with cd cover art for those who still enjoy burning to a format that is not so gradually disappearing, can be found here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/w3w6v8exjkki4/Horszowski_Katims_Schneidr_Miller_Mozart_Beethoven

I hope you enjoy the music and performances as much as I do. Schneider and Horszowski are two of my favorite musicians.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

"Halfway" 'Round the World with Janos Starker


"Halfway" 'Round the World with Janos Starker
Starker Plays Kodaly

I originally planned to include this entire 3 LP box set of early Period Records Janos Starker recordings, but ran into difficulties. First the original set I had did not include the Mozart or Boccherini sides, but duplicates of two of the Kodaly pieces. The second set I bought had the same issue. There was obviously a problem at the factory. At the prices the set is now being sold for, I did not feel like risking a repeat, and, to be honest, the Kodaly pieces included in this post, are the reasons this is one of my favorite record sets. 

In particular, though Starker recorded the Unaccompanied sonata on a number of other occasions, none of them match the intensity and technical bravura of this early recording, which remains my favorite of the piece by anyone, including Starker's subsequent essays. 

I have the Mozart and Boccherini concertos on an Everest fake stereo LP that I think sounds awful. After hours of work trying to get it to sound better, I have decided to settle for uploading the Kodaly and leaving the rest, at least for now. The Bartok Rhapsody and Weiner Kakodalmas have annoying audible clunks - either from the original transfer or my LP.  I have discovered I have the original pressing of those pieces, so if I manage to fix those issues someday, I'll post them, but for now the best of the box are the three Kodaly pieces included here: The Unaccompanied Sonata for Cello, Op.8, the Duo for Violin and Cello Op.7, and the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4.  The box is worth getting for the Op. 8 alone.

All files can be found here: 

Starker Plays Kodaly

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Robert Mann plays Bartok Solo Sonata

 Bartok Solo Sonata / Contrasts

Robert Mann, Violin - Stanely Drucker, Clarinet - Leonid Hambro, Piano

Here is the first recording of Bartok's Solo Sonata for Violin with the original last movement quarter-tones.  (Menuhin, who commissioned it, of course made the first recording, but it included changes to the original score.)  It is important for that alone, but it is much more, a brilliant performance of a great, late piece by Bartok.  The Constrasts, with Stanley Drucker and Leonid Hambro is one of the best performances I've heard, and with much better sound than Bartok's own recording with Benny Goodman and Szigeti. I have no personal need to look further than those two recordings, though, lover of Bartok that I am, I have others.

The recording was undertaken by Bartok records under the direction of  Bela Bartok's son, Peter. and they are masterfully recorded. I had a very clean LP to transfer using the Shure V15  V-MR. It only required a little declicking and very very little surface vibration removal.  The renovated file sound good, but adds nothing to the surprisingly full bodied, detailed,  and focused sound of the original from 1949.  Peter Bartok was a sound engineer, and quite a good one to go by this and several other Bartok Records productions.

I've included the record jacket notes, separating the three text columns into 3 jpegs for easier reading. I only take issue to the opening line of the text, which asserts that, "Bartok could not, with any accuracy, be classified as a 'modern' composer in the conventional sense of the term."  While it is true that Bartok is deeply influenced by classic forms and folk music, his application of those influences places him squarely in 20th century modernism.  The Solo Violin Sonata is "Bachian", but could by no means be mistaken for Bach. The third and forth string quartets have deep classical formal roots, and yet could not have been written other than the time they were composed, nor by anyone but Bartok. Denying him his place in the pantheon of great moderns is simply misguided, even if he mostly has a place among the  greatest of the greats of all time.

Links to all the files, Flac, MP3, and album and CD art, can be found here: 


Friday, August 20, 2021

Reginald Kell and Casadesus play Mozart

Mozart Clarinet Concerto

Reginal Kell / Zimbler Sinfonietta

My two favorite clarinetists are Reginal Kell, featured here, and Gervase de Peyer.  This recording from 1949, issued on this 10 inch Decca LP in 1950 is a beautiful example of  the art of the former, paired with the Zimbler Sinfonietta, a select group of Boston Symphony Orchestra players of the period. The playing is Mozartian and stylish, though still hearty enough to give the authentic instrument crowd the vapors.
The Zimbler personnell are listed thus:
Violins: E. Kornsand, G. Zazofsky, H. Dubbs, V. Resnikoff, N. Lauga, H. Dickson, C. Knudsen, M. Zung, H. Silberman, S. Benson  Violas: Joseph De Pasquale, J. Cauhape, A. Bernard. Celli: J. Zimbler, S. Mayes, H. Droeghmans. Double Bass: H. Portnoi.

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major K 467

Robert Casadesus / Charles Munch

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York

Here is a full blooded performance of the K467 piano concerto of Mozart with that incomparable Mozartian, Robert Casadesus, accompanied by Charles Munch leader the NY Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Of Cartridges and Needles

I am not an audiophile, and I do not have an audiophile set-up plugged into my computer soundcard. Nor am I a sound technician, which I have confessed several times. For the work here, I am "playing it by ear", a method perfectly adapted to the task at hand.  Nonetheless, I've tried to put together a system with which I can do decent quality restorations and which, when it is not going through my computer, lets me enjoy listening to my vinyl collection.  Since some people are interested in these things, here it is:

 I have three cartridge/stylus sets that I use on a regular basis, plus a cartridge with two styli, one for 78's, and one basic conical to play records too beat up to trust my other needles to. The three daily use are: An Audio Technica AT120E. It gives me the sound I want 90% of the time, and it is what I usually use for my own listening. The other AT is the 440Mla, sold  to me as an upgrade, but which is often a little too bright for me, though time has tamed it some. It is, however, the best tracker I have, and I have used it for records with tracking issues, later revisiting the equalization, and for LPs that seem dull.  My third is a Shure V15 Type V-MR, given to me by Fred Maroth when I was working on the Schneider Quartet Haydn project for him. He ended up not using my work, but not through any fault of the Shure.  It has a beautifully detailed output that I think of as generally neutral, at least on my set-up. I use it on records in very good condition when I feel its sound signature is called for.  It's not an exact science, and I confess it could well change from one day to the next.  As I wrote this I am re-recording with the AT120E the Bartok Solo Violin Sonata with Robert Mann on Bartok Records, which I originally recorded with the Shure.  I'm liking the sound of the AT. So it goes.  I'll decide which version to use tomorrow.

The rest of my set-up is decent rather than awe inspiring: A Yamaha R-S202 receiver, which is what I could afford when my old TEAC receiver died; a Cambridge Audio 640P pre-amp, all the more necessary as the Yamaha has no phono inputs or pre-amp, truly made for the post vinyl world; an old Numark TT200 with the S arm, not the DJ Scratch arm it came with, which I keep thinking of replacing but which continues to serve my needs; a set of Elac UB5 bookshelf speakers (nice, but I wish I'd gotten the KLH Albany, which I contemplated getting after using KLH in the 70's and a classic pair still in my living room with a different set up); Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 ohm headphones, bought specifically for my restoration projects.  And an EVA NU Audio soundcard, a considerable improvement over the built in  RealTek audio on my Dell XPS desktop.

While all of the above is respectable, none of it is top of the line, which I cannot afford and probably could not hear. What I have delivers satisfying musical output, which is all I ask for, and the CD's I make from my LP's sound good to my ears. I have used much less well equipped systems in years past (ceramic cartridge anyone?) and enjoyed my Brahms and Bartok just as much.  

Henry Cowel: Set of Five

 Henry Cowell

Set of Five for Violin, Piano, and Percussion

Hovhaness Kirghiz Suite, Ives Violin Sonata No. 4

An important 1956 recording of a significant work by Henry Cowell, composed at the request of the Ajemian sisters, that is, surprisingly, not on CD.  I like the Ives sonata a bit more edgy, but it is certainly played well here.  And my favorite rendition of it, Szigeti's with Foldes from 1941, is considered too "gypsy" for some, whatever that means.  For my money the most important recording here is the Cowell, and its a bang up performance of terrific piece of music. The entire album is included. Hope you enjoy it! 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Chamber Music Society Dvorak Chamber Music


E flat Piano Quartet Op. 87, F minor Piano Trio Op. 65

These are lovely performances, but the digitizing of them took some doing. I used two microline styluses on their recommended cartridges, and the results were harsh with distorted highs. Finally, my favorate cartidge/stylus for general listening, the AT 120E, did the trick. Even then, I re-equalized the final files to restrain what were, for me, a little too strident highs. I'm fairly pleased with the result. 

I like Dvorak's chamber music - a lot!  I have all the Piano trios with the Suk Trio, and those records are pretty much the gold standard for me, but I am always interested in hearing the Chamber Music Society records. The music is invariably performed by good musicians, if not the most famous.  Louis Kaufman and Artur Balsam on this record are probably the most well known, but all the others were highly respected performers. A sister label to Concert Hall records, most of the CMS releases had, ""licensed by Concert Hall Society for Non-commercial use", on the label, as does this record. 

The recordings have an important place in recording history, encouraging the recording of chamber music, and the performances usually stand in their own right.