Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Piano Music of Scott Joplin (Part 2)

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

To complete our two-part survey of the piano music of Scott Joplin, I wanted to share tracks I downloaded from a still-active Public Domain site, LiberMusica.

In the first installment in this series I observed that the tempo on some of the ragtime tracks I unearthed years ago was, well, rather tame. My "go to" references for Joplin rags are the Dick Hyman/James Levine CD of Joplin's "Greatest Hits" (BMG) and the original soundtrack to the 1974 Motion Picture "The Sting", performed by Marvin Hamlisch (using Gunther Schuller's editions).

Joplin himself never made an audio recording as a pianist; however his playing is preserved on sevenpiano rolls. All seven were made between April and June 1916: six released under the Connorized label and the other roll, a recording of "Maple Leaf Rag" was recorded on the Uni-Record label in June 1916. It was recorded on better equipment than the Connorized rolls thus giving a truer record of Joplin's playing. (We note that at the time Joplin was suffering from the advanced symptoms of syphilis which would take his life 10 months later, so this recording is not a true record of his more youthful ability.)

These rolls are featured in the following YouTube playlist - with thanks to "Erik Satie".

It is therefore highly doubtful hat the performances provided in the so-called "Original piano rolls (1896-1917)" come from the playing of Joplin. Nonetheless, they are quite insightful and provide a better, more "authentic" tempo and playing style than the vast majority of the tracks I share last time. You can compare, as I highlight below the tracks that are "common" to both sets.


Scott JOPLIN (c.1868-1917)

  • The Entertainer (1902)
  • Pine Apple Rag (1908)
  • Reflection Rag (ca. 1907)
  • The "Rag Time Dance" (1902)
  • Sugar Cane (1908)
  • Combination March (1896)
  • Elite Syncopations (1902)
  • A Real Slow Drag (1911, Treemonisha:Act 3, no. 9)
  • Paragon Rag (1909)
  • Scott Joplin's New Rag (1912)
  • Solace (1909)
  • Paecherine Rag (1901)
  • Rose Leaf Rag (1907)
  • Swipesy Cake Walk (1900)
  • The Sycamore (1904)
  • Stoptime Rag (1910)
  • Silver Swan Rag (1914-18)
  • Original Rags (collab. with Charles Daniels, 1899)
  • Pleasant Moments. Rag-Time Waltz (1909)
  • Scott Joplin's Best Rag (Medley)

Piano Rolls (1896-1917)

Friday, November 25, 2016


No. 235 of the ongoing  ITYWLTMT series series series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast235

UPDATE - OTF Link https://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/3211-OTF-%E2%80%93-This-Day-in-Music-History-31-March-1913

This week’s blog and podcasts aims to re-create a historic concert that took place at the Great Hall of Viennna’s Musikverein on March 31st, 1913.

On February 3, 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with pilot Roger Peterson. The event later became known as "The Day the Music Died", after singer-songwriter Don McLean so referred to it in his 1971 song "American Pie".

In many ways, March 31st 1913 is the day that Romantic Classical Music died – some would argue that occurred a few months later (on May 29th), at a performance of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris when Stravinsky’s seminal ballet music for The Rite of Spring was premiered.

The Skandalkonzert of March 31st 1913 (as it has been referred to since), was a concert of the Wiener Konzertverein conducted by Arnold Schoenberg . The audience, shocked by the expressionism and experimentalism of the music created by members of the emerging Second Viennese School, began rioting, and the concert was ended prematurely.

(A punch administered by concert organizer Erhard Buschbeck became the subject of a lawsuit, whereby operetta composer Oscar Straus, heard as a witness, testified it had been the most harmonious sound of the evening.)

Here is the program: 

As a contemporary reviewer points out, it is sometimes difficult to put yourself in the position of that original audience, especially when we compare some of this music to what came later. Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, for example, isn’t nearly as challenging as some of his other work – it has identifiable tunes and cadences making it more “accessible” than some of his more rigid 12-tone compositions.

If Schoenberg now seems more accessible, the intervening century has done nothing to reduce the shock of the new in the music of his pupil Anton Webern. His Six Pieces still sound staggeringly modern. He uses the instruments of the orchestra sparingly, like diamonds twinkling on a dark background, but the sheer sparseness of the writing is still perplexing to many 21st century ears. The central climax of the work, where an eerily disembodied percussion sound leads into an ear-splitting orchestral thunderbolt, still has the ability to stun. The performance I chose for the podcast (which uses the “revised” version for large orchestra) is conducted with great care by Hans Rosbaud.

The songs by Zemlinsky– like the Mahler set that was scheduled to close the program -  hang on to basic tonality, albeit distended beyond what most of his contemporaries would have recognized, and therefore the beautiful texture of his writing is always closer to the surface. This is the complete set of songs

Alban Berg’s Altenberg Lieder, according to some the real source of the controversy in 1913, are much less extended than Webern’s Pieces, but in their own way they too have lost none of their strangeness and distance that must have so alienated their first audiences. Again, the complete set:

A few bars into the second song, the Viennese audience burst into laughter, annoying Schoenberg who turned around and said “I ask those who cannot be quiet, to leave the room.” And after the crowds refused to heed his request, said fampously “I'm against those who disturb, call the public authorities” quoted Die Zeit.

The donnybrook that followed the Berg lieder cut the program short – but not today, as we complete the podcast with the complete Mahler song cycle.

Schoenberg continued to champion the works of his contemporaries of the Second Viennese school, establishing the Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen (the Society for Private Musical Performances) in the Autumn of 1918 with the intention of making carefully rehearsed and comprehensible performances of newly composed music available to genuinely interested members of the musical public. In the three years between February 1919 and 5 December 1921, the society gave 353 performances of 154 works in a total of 117 concerts. The programs included works by Reger, Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Webern, Berg, and many others – without any reports of riots!

I think you will love this music too!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

La Wally (Catalani)

This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.

From a flood to an avalanche!

This installment of OTF looks at Alfredo Catalani’s opera La Wally, in a recording I moined off the LiberMusicasite. More on the performance later in this post.

Unless you’re an above-average opera devotee, you probably know but a few things about La Wally. One is that the hero and heroine both die in an extremely-difficult-to-stage avalanche in the final scene. Another thing may be that this was a favorite opera of conductor Arturo Toscanini. In fact, he loved it so much he named his daughter after Wally (his other two children, Wanda and Walter, were given names that began with “Wa” for the same reason). Finally, this opera boasts a hugely famous aria for soprano, “Ebben, ne Andro Lontana?” a concert favorite of many sopranos.

La Wally is about a beautiful girl in a small German town. Wally (short for Walburga) reminds us of Minnie from Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West because she’s pure, pretty tough and all the men in town are in love with her. Wally is secretly in love with a man from another town named Giuseppe Hagenbach who is also her father Stromminger’s enemy.

As in most operas, impossible love is a complicated thing, and when circumstances make it possible for Wally to be with Hagenbach, he’s no longer available. After an episode Wally views as betrayal, she turns to a long-time suitor Gellner and insists that if he loves her he must kill Hagenbach.
The plot gets a little complicated from here – Gellner stalks Hagenbach and in the deep darkness of a winter night, he hurls him into a ravine. Wally, disturbed and guilt ridden, goes to save Hagenbach by repelling down a mountain. Later, she returns to the mountainside (most likely with suicide on her mind) and encounters Hagenbach, recovered from his injuries.

Finally, they profess their love to one another. Hagenbach goes to find a path down the mountains but as he calls for Wally, he sets off an avalanche sweeping him away to his death. Unable and unwilling to continue to safety, she cries “Here is the wife of Giuseppe!” and hurls herself down into the avalanche, killing herself.

La Wally was a hit when it had its La Scala premiere in 1892, but began a descent into obscurity - along with the rest of Catalani's works - soon after the composer's death the next year. In the days before CGI and multi-media, it would be quite a feat to mount an opera with such a climax - the avalanche plays such an important role in the denouement, it would be impossible not to create something that passes for one for a stage production. This probably explains why it’s not been performed much – in the United States, La Wally has been a rarity since the last Metropolitan Opera staging in 1909. But recordings pirated from Italian performances and a commercial set starring Renata Tebaldi have made it a cult classic, high on many an operaphile's list of unjustly neglected works.

The performance I am sharing today is of the live 1953 Opening Night at La Scala with Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco and Giangiacomo Guelfi (three immense voices in their prime; no wonder there was an avalanche!) as well as the Scala debut of Renata Scotto, all conducted by the excellent, late, lamented Carlo Maria Giulini. And God bless the Milanese who simply cannot contain themselves in the final scene and applaud the avalanche. 

Alfredo CATALANI (1854 –1893)
La Wally (1889-91)
opera in four acts, Italian libretto by Luigi Illica after Die Geier-Wally: Eine Geschichte aus den Tyroler Alpen(The Vulture Wally: A Story from the Tyrolean Alps), by Wilhelmine von Hillern

Renata Tebaldi, (Soprano; Wally)
Mario Del Monaco, (Tenor; Giuseppe Hagenbach)
Gian Giacomo Guelfi (Baritone; Vincenzo Gellner)
Renata Scotto, (Soprano; Walter)

Coro del Teatro alla Scala
(Vittore Veneziani, Chorus Master)
Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
Carlo Maria Giulini, conducting
(Live performance: Milan, 7 Dec 1953)

Synopsis – http://www.opera-arias.com/catalani/la-wally/synopsis/
Libretto - http://www.opera-arias.com/catalani/la-wally/libretto/
Performance URL - http://www.liberliber.it/online/auto...lani/la-wally/

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Piano Music of Scott Joplin (Part 1)

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This month has five Tuesdays and, as luck would have it, I happen to have some spare material to share. So here's the first of a two-part series, for your listening pleasure.

This week's installment of Once Upon the Internet brings in music from two source sites: the old MP3.COM and an Italian public domain site that is no longer active, vitaminc.it.

Back in the day, I amassed quite a few tracks from the piano music of the great African-American composer Scott Joplin, performed by a pair of (amateur?) pianists, Robert Daria and Dario Ronchi.

Ragtime is a musical genre that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated, or "ragged", rhythm which takes me back to single-reel silent movies or Prohibition-era speakeasies. Scott Joplin became famous through the publication of the "Maple Leaf Rag" (1899) and a string of ragtime hits, although he was later forgotten by all but a small, dedicated community of ragtime aficionados until the major ragtime revival in the early 1970s – spurred in part by New England Conservatory president Gunther Schuller, and Hollywood director George Roy Hill.

The MP3.COM verbiage, as I recall, claimed that the performances adhered strictly to the tempo indications. To my ear, that seems a bit hard to accept, as it is rather customary to treat “Allegro” differently in musical tradition X from that of musical tradition Y, simply because composers of a given tradition may view “fast” as others may view it as “faster still”.

Ragtime, unlike the minuet or the waltz, doesn’t strictly adhere to a metric pattern. Wikipedia points out that “it is rather a musical genre that uses an effect that can be applied to any meter. The defining characteristic of ragtime music is a specific type of syncopation in which melodic accents occur between metrical beats.” Joplin, known as the "King of Ragtime", called the effect "weird and intoxicating." He also used the term "swing" in describing how to play ragtime music: "Play slowly until you catch the swing..." The name swing later came to be applied to an early genre of jazz that developed from ragtime.

I own other recordings of these little gems, notably a CD recorded by jazz pianist Dick Hyman and (yes by “the”) James Levine, and the tempo they adopt is night and day compared to Ronchi/Daria: break-neck speed vs cautious restraint.

Today’s musical share includes 21 tracks - the Daria tracks appear to have been recorded using an electronic piano made to "sound" rickety. I find that a bit annoying at times, but he does perform less kn own tracks - waltzes, marches and two-steps - I hadn't heard much before. The Ronchi tracks are recorded on a regular acoustic piano, and have a crisper sound quality..

A lot like I did with Kirkpatrick’s recording of the Scarlatti sonatas a couple of years ago, for the sake of disclosure, I wanted to provide a clear warning about overindulging on these. Maybe it’s the recording quality (poor to fair, generally) or just the style, but this stuff can give you a tummy ache if you’re not careful. Pace yourselves!

Scott JOPLIN (ca. 1868–1917)

  • Bethena. A Concert Waltz (1905)
  • Binks Waltz (1905)
  • Leola. Two Step (1905)
  • Rosebud. Two-Step (1905)
  • Antoinette. March and Two-Step (1906)
  • Reflection Rag (ca. 1907)
  • The Nonpareil. A Rag & Two Step (1907)
  • Pine Apple Rag (1908)
  • School of Ragtime: Exercises (1908)
  • Pleasant Moments. Rag-Time Waltz (1909)
  • The Augustan Club Waltz (1901)
  • Cleopha. March and Two Step (1902)
  • The Crush Collision March (1896)
  • The Favorite. Ragtime Two Step (1904)
  • The Harmony Club Waltz (1896)
  • The "Rag Time Dance" (1902)

Robert Daria, piano (Downloaded from MP3.COM)

  • A Real Slow Drag (1911, Treemonisha:Act 3, no. 9)
  • Gladiolus Rag (1907)
  • I Want to See My Child (1911, Treemonisha:Act 3, no. 2)
  • Rose Leaf Rag (1907)
  • Searchlight Rag (1907)

Dario Ronchi, piano (Downloaded from vitaminic.it)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Project 366 - Music Takes the Stage

To mark the fifth anniversary of ITYWLTMT, we are undertaking a long-term project that will introduce - and re-introduce - musical selections in the context of a larger thematic arc I am calling "A Journey of Musical Discovery". Read more here.

This next chapter of our project will run a quick survey of music conceived for, or from, works for the stage (and since the advent of film in the 20th century) and other screen media.

This in turn manifests itself in many ways musically – incidental music, that is music designed as “background” or “mood” music; ballet music or music intended for choreographed stage productions and, to a lesser extent, overtures, tone poems or other such free-form works inspired by plays.
The ultimate stage work involving music, of course, is opera and its derivatives forms (operetta, musical comedy, musical revues, …) however we will reserve a separate discussion – look for it in our next chapter!

How Suite It Is

The case of incidental music is worth discussing through a different angle, which aptly applies for much stage music output – what is the best vehicle or the best platform to present that music in the concert hall without the benefit of the stage performance and stage performers?

The answer is to assemble musical numbers in a multi-part suite. These suites come in two flavours – those assembled by the composer (or a surrogate) and those assembled by conductors or instrumentalists.

There are many examples of that. For instance, we rarely hear the music Edvard Grieg composed for Henrik Ibsen's 1867 play Peer Gynt (his Op. 23) in its original incidental form. In 1888 and 1891, Grieg extracted eight movements to make two four-movement suites: Suite No. 1, Op. 46, and Suite No. 2, Op. 55. Some of these sections – the Morning Mood and the Hall of the Mountain King, have transcended the stage and concert hall and are well-recognized tunes in popular culture.

Maurice Meterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande is the example of a stage work that has garnered many versions of incidental music, notably by Fauré and Sibelius, as well as an operatic adaptation by Claude Debussy. Of note, it is Fauré’s pupil Charles Koechlin who assembled a concert suite of Fauré’s incidental music, and composer/conductor Marius Constant who packaged Debussy’s music for a “performance symphony”.

Complete Ballet Scores in Concert

Ballet music is a peculiar case study when it comes to “complete” vs. “suite” in concert. It happens, on occasion, that orchestras (and chamber players) invite dance troupes to join them on stage in concert venues to add the choreographic dimension to a ballet (or even a ballet suite) they are performing – but that is the exception, not the rule.

Is ballet really about the music, or is it not about the dance? I guess the real answer is a lot of both, and even in some cases, I’d go so far as to say “it depends”…

Impresario Serge Diaghilev promoted his dance troupe les ballets Russes in concerts all over Western Europe, well into the 20th century, before, during and after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Some of the productions he presented used dancers and choreographers from the Imperial Ballet in St-Petersburg: Nijinsky, Pavlova, the list goes on!

The ballets he staged included the enduring classics from Late Romantic Russia – Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake – and Western ballets like Giselle. Diaghilev also promoted contemporary composers and commissioned works from Debussy, Ravel, Falla, Glazunov and Stravinsky. On the evening of May 29, 1913, Diaghilev’s dance troupe premiered a ballet by Stravinsky to a Nijinsky choreography: The Rite of Spring. The raucous this premiere caused, borrowing words by Don McLean, made it “the Day the Music Died”; at least, “old Guard” music.

A work like the Rite of Spring, because of its significance in music history, is one of these “it depends” cases where the music can stand alone in the concert hall. I would further argue that any ballet that can be performed as a continuous piece of music – unlike say the great Tchaikovsky ballets that are deployed over several acts – are also candidates for concert performance. Sometimes, we even forget Ravel’s La Valse or Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun were originally performance dance works!

Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet (his opus 64) is an interesting case study for “suites performance”. Prokofiev milked that music for all its worth: he assembled not one, not two but three suites (his op. 64 bis and ter and op. 101), and Prokofiev reduced selected music from the ballet in 1937 as Romeo and Juliet: Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 75, which he premiered himself later that year. Many conductors of renown, including Riccardo Muti and Dimitri Mitropoulos, have assembled their own by mixing and matching numbers from the Prokofiev suites.

Music as an Essential Component

The power of incidental music in stage (and screen) performance is its ability to set the mood, or convey “unspoken” messages. Richard Wagner, in many of his operas, instituted the concept of leitmotiv, or “character themes” where he represents characters in the action within the music, morphing these themes to suit the moment. This method has been heavily used by other composers – John Williams made significant use of that for the music he composed for the many chapters of the Star Wars anthology, and the Harry Potter anthology, only to name those.
In an interview, Aaron Copland discussed the scoring of the 1949 William Wyler drama The Heiress starring Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift for which he won the Academy Award for best original score.

In the action, on the night they are to elope, the heiress Catherine eagerly awaits at home for her suitor Morris to come and take her away, but he never arrives. The scene is played out as a sequence of individual carriages turning into Washington Square, with Miss de Havilland rushing to the door each time one comes by, only to see each carriage pass without stopping. You can sense how Wyler wanted to create a sense of anticipation with increasing impatience and despair as the drama unfolds, carriage after carriage.

At a pre-screening, the audience was heard laughing through the scene. Wyler asked Copland to re-score the scene, and at the next screening, the audience was in tears. The footage didn’t change – just the music, and that was enough to create the effect Wyler wanted to achieve.

Recommended Playlists

Listener Guide #53 - "Pelleas et Melisande". Three different works inspired by Maeterlinck’s play (ITYWLTMT Podcast # 108 - 7 June 2013)

Listener Guide #54 - "Sibelius Takes the Stage" We explore three stage works set to music by Jean Sibelius.  (ITYWLTMT Montage # 234 - 11 Nov 2016)

Listener Guide #55 - "Shakespearean Inspirations". Explore compositions by Berlioz, Ibert, and Korngold that were inspired or accompany stage works of William Shakespeare. (ITYWLTMT Montage #233 - 28 Oct 2016).

Listener Guide #56 - “Tchaikovsky ‎– Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty Suites”. Herbert von Karajan, has left behind a good umber of performances of the Tchaikocsky ballet suites. Here, from my vinyl collection,  Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty with the Berlin Philharmonic, in a studio recording from the early 1970's. (Vinyl's Revenge #19 - 26 July 2016)

Listener Guide #57 - “Prokofiev ‎– Romeo And Juliet”. It is not uncommon for conductors to "mix and match" selections from ballet suites to form their own, and this is exactly what Dimitri Mitropoulos did for Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. (Vinyl's Revenge #20 - 23 Aug 2016)

Listener Guide #58 - "This Day in Music History,  29 May 1913". A Montage which recreates the recital of les Ballets Russes at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées on that night over 100 years ago (ITYWLTMT Podcast # 107 - 29 May, 2013)

Listener Guide #59 - "A Suite at the Movies". Music and film goes back to the days of silent films, where music played a large role in providing desired mood effects, and later in the Musicals of the 1940âs, only to name those. Composers as far back as Camille Saint-Saens provided film music, and a great number of European composers (most noteworthy here being Franz Waxman and Erich Korngold) moved to Hollywood to score great epic films of the first half of the 20th century. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #20 - September 2, 2011)

Listener Guide #60 - "The Star Wars Trilogy".  A nostalgic look at the music composed for the original Star Wars trilogy, conducted by the composer. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #232 - 14 Oct 2016)

Listener Guide #61 - "Cowboiy Classics". The lure of the open prairie, and the cowboy mystique has inspired many composers â and this is what we will be exploring this week in our podcast. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #13 - 8 July 2011)

Listener Guide #62 - "Peer Gynt". Ibsen asked Edvard Grieg to compose incidental music for his memorable play. This is a "performance suite" of some of the highlights from the score. (Vinyl's Revenge #18 - 28 Jun 2016)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sibelius Takes the Stage

No. 234 of the ongoing  ITYWLTMT series series series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast234

The last post in our 3-part series on Stage works considers three suites based on stage music composed by Jean Sibelius.

A few years ago, I shared a montage of music based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Pelléas et Mélisande. The play has been the basis of several pieces of music; perhaps the best known is the 1902 opera by Claude Debussy. In 1898, Gabriel Fauré had written incidental music for performances of the play in London and the story inspired Arnold Schoenberg's early symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande of 1902–03. Jean Sibelius also wrote incidental music for it in 1905.

Sibelius composed ten pieces consisting of overtures to the five acts and five other movements. It was first performed at the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki on 17 March 1905. Sibelius later slightly rearranged the music into a nine movement suite, which became one of his most popular concert works.

The second work on today’s montage is incidental music for Adolf Paul ‘s historical play King Christian II (Kuningas Kristian II). The original play deals with the love of King Christian II, ruler of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, for a Dutch girl, Dyvecke, a commoner. Sibelius composed seven movements in 1898 and the following summer, he composed three more movements, Nocturne, Serenade and Ballad. The ballad is a dramatic piece about the 1520 bloodbath which the king ordered in Stockholm. This movement shows already traits of the later First Symphony. Sibelius derived from the incidental music a suite of five movements, first performed in December 1898.

Karelia is in the south-east of Finland, a beautiful wilderness full of history and peasant music (nowadays it's in dispute between Finland and Russia). Sibelius loved the area - he went there on his honeymoon and had traveled all around.

In his early life Sibelius was hugely patriotic. One of his earliest pieces (from 1893) was a 7-part collection of incidental music for a play put on by the Viipuri Students' Association in Karelia (the play was also patriotic). The different musical images depicted historical scenes from the Karelia area. Karelia Music consists of an Overture, 8 Tableaux, and 2 Intermezzi. Later Sibelius took three of the pieces from his incidental music and jammed them together into an orchestral suite - the Karelia suite.

The Intermezzo is the only "original" movement of the suite. Sibelius borrowed the brass theme in the middle of Tableau 3 and made it into its own movement.
The Ballade was based on Tableau 5, and is "sung" by a bard (on cor anglais), reflecting the mood of a fifteenth-century Swedish king, Karl Knutsson, reminiscing in his castle whilst being entertained by a minstrel.

Alla Marcia is an exhilarating march, which was originally incidental to Tableau 5½ and is practically the same as the original music, except for some minor chord changes.

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Stravinsky, LACO, Neville Marriner ‎– Concerto In D / Danses Concertantes / Dumbarton Oaks

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

November is typically when I take time in these pages to share music created by some of the artists and composers we lost over the past year. As it turns out, a little less than a month ago, we lost Sir Neville Marriner, a conductor memorable for his stewardship (and establishment) of a great chamber/early music ensemble, The Academy of St-Martin in the Fields.

Read his obituary

Most of us who've collected recordings over the last few decades have their fair share of Sir Neville recordings, and some (as recently as last year) were featured in the Tuesday Blog. His impressive discography covers the great names of the baroque and classical eras (Vivaldi and Mozart especially come to mind), but if I were to identify my favourite Marriner recordings, I would sway towards releases of modern-day composers who dabbled in neo-classicism: Prokofiev was one, but Stravinsky in particular. My favourite ASMF recording of Sir Nevilles's is his recording of Pulcinella, probably the best example of Stravinsky dabbling in old styles.

This week, in tribute to Sir Neville, I chose to share one of the handful of discs he recorded with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra which he led from 1969 to 1978. This all-Stravinsky disc features two of his concertos for orchestra and his set of neo-baroque danses concertantes.

Happy Listening

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Concerto in E-Flat for Chamber Orchestra ('Dumbarton Oaks', 1938)
Concerto in D for String Orchestra ('Basel Concerto', 1946)
Danses concertantes (1942)

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Neville Marriner, conducting

EMI Records Ltd. ‎– ASD 3077
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album (1975)