Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Year In Review and Look Ahead to 2022

 As I usually do this time of year, I issue a quick update on what we did last year and what we plan on doing next year on all our platforms.

2021 - or Year 2 of the Corona Virus Pandemic - has ha its ups and downs, though we have tried here to continue with our daily programming on For Your Listening Pleasure, with new releases nearly every week. We completed our complete recap of our montages in 2021, and started a partial recap of our Tuesday Blog / Once or Twice a Fortnight shares in the form of the 222 day binge challenge - which marks today day 122 with our repost f Die Fledermaus.

The first 100 days of 2022 will complete the chanllenge, whuke introducing two fixtured for the upcoming year :

  • Lundi avec Ludwig will replace Mozart Mondays with a weekly Beethoven program every Monday; and
  • The Opera Akphabet with 26 weekend programs that will explore the lyric repertoire every other week.
Here is our calendar for the first quarter (January - March)of 2022

And to complete, our annual YouTube collection of odds and sods

Happy New Year ad thanks for listening!


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

PTB Classic - Xavier Cugat

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

My last Tuesday Blog for 2021 follows the classic format we brought back this year.

My mom would have been 90 this year, and in some small way, this post is a wink in her direction. As an awkward teenager, my mom tried to teach me (and my brother before me) what she thought to be a basic life skill – ballroom dancing. She tried her best to get us to learn the basic steps to Latin dances, particularly the cha-cha and rumba. Her go-to vinyl record was an old Mercury disk featuring Xavier Cugat and his orchestra.

Xavier Cugat (1900-1990) was a Calatan musician and bandleader who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba. A trained violinist and arranger, he was a leading figure in the spread of Latin music. In New York City he was the leader of the resident orchestra at the Waldorf–Astoria before and after World War II. One of his trademark gestures was to hold a chihuahua while he waved his baton with the other arm.

Cugat recorded for Columbia (1940s and 1950s, and Epic), RCA Victor (1930s and 1950s), Mercury (1951–52 and the 1960s), and Decca (1960s). Cugat followed trends closely, making records for the conga, the mambo, the cha-cha, and the twist when these dances were popular. In 1940 his recording of "Perfidia" became a hit. In 1943 "Brazil" was Cugat's most successful chart hit. It spent seven weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard magazine National Best Selling Retail Records chart.

Past members of his orchestra have included Desi Arnaz, Lina Romay, Abbe Lane, Tito Rodriguez, Yma Sumac, Miguelito Valdés, Frank Berardi, Gene Lorello, George Lopez, Glenn E. Brown, Henry Greher, Isabello Marerro, James English, John Haluko, Joseph Gutierrez, Luis Castellanos, Manuel Paxtot, Oswaldo Oliveira, Otto Bolívar, Otto Garcia, Rafael Angelo, Richard Hoffman, Robert De Joseph, and Robert Jones.

Today’s share features two specific Cugat albums: a “Best Of” compilation and the record that my mother used for her lessons, “Viva Cugat”.

The Best Of Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra
  1. Sway [Norman Gimbel, Pablo Beltran Ruiz]
  2. Tequila [Chuck Rio]
  3. Fly Me To The Moon [Bart Howard]
  4. Brazil (Aquareia Do Brasil) [Ary Barroso]
  5. Desafinado [Antônio Carlos Jobim]
  6. Witchcraft [Cy Coleman]
  7. Green Eyes ("Aquellos Ojos Verdes") [Adolfo Utrera and Nilo Menéndez]
  8. Besame Mucho [Consuelo Velázquez]
  9. Yours (Quiéreme Mucho) [ Gonzalo Roig]
  10. Amor [Gabriel Ruiz, Ricardo Lopez Mendez]
  11. It Happened In Monterey [ William Rose, Mabel Wayne]
  12. Tea For Two [Vincent Youmans]
  13. What a Diff'rence a Day Made ("Cuando vuelva a tu lado") [María Grever]
  14. Papa Loves Mambo [ Al Hoffman, Dick Manning, and Bix Reichner]
  15. La cumparsita [ Gerardo Matos Rodríguez]
  16. El Cumbanchero [ Rafael Hernández]
  17. I've Got The World on a String [ Harold Arlen]
  18. Always In My Heart [ Ernesto Lecuona, Kim Gannon]

Spectrum Music 554 767-2
CD, Compilation
Released: 1998

Viva Cugat!
  1. Jungle Concerto [Xavier Cugat]
  2. The Peanut Vendor (El Manisero) [Marion Sunshine, Moises Simons, L. Wolfe Gilbert]
  3. Isle Of Capri [Jimmy Kennedy, Will Gross]
  4. Tropical Merengue (Amanecer Tropical) [Don Marsh, Lawrence Elow, Rafael Munoz]
  5. Nightingale [Fred Wise, George Rosner, Xavier Cugat]
  6. Perfidia [Alberto Dominguez]
  7. Siboney [Dolly Morse, Ernesto Lecuona]
  8. Jungle Drums (Canto Karabali) [Carmen Lombardo, Charles O'Flynn, Ernesto Lecuona]
  9. Anna (El Negro Zumbon) [Armando Trovajoli]
  10. Maria Elena [Lorenzo Barcelata]
  11. Poinciana (Song Of The Tree) [Buddy Bernier, Manuel Lliso, Nat Simon]
  12. Say Si Si (Para Vigo Me Voy) [ Al Stillman, Ernesto Lecuona, Francia Luban]

Mercury – SR 60868
Released: 1951, reissued 1961


Friday, December 17, 2021

Rafael Kubelik conducts Ma Vlast

No. 374 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. It can be found in our archives at


Blogger’s Note: As we review our many musical shares from our musical forum activities under our ongoing “222 Day Binge Challenge”, the Friday Blog and Podcast will revisit some themes from past Tuesday Blogs. Today’s montage is part of that exercise. The Tuesday post in question was issued on December 26, 2011. The programme reuses some of the same works and the below commentary is taken almost verbatim from the original post.

About the Work

Ma Vlast (transl. My Country, or My Fatherland) is a tone poem cycle by the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884). Though other Czech composers (Dvořák and Suk) wrote a lot of folk-inspired music from their homeland, Ma Vlast stands out as being more of a patriotic work, not unlike Sibelius' Finlandia, for instance.

The six tone poems that make-up Ma Vlast are a mix of folklore, legend and atmosphere. From the on-set, the poems were meant to be played as part of a larger group, and Smetana makes use of Leitmotivs and other such devices to sew the music together into one large fabric.

Of the lot, Vltava (The Moldau) is probably the most famous, having been recorded as a stand-alone piece by almost every major conductor. However, one cannot lose sight of the other five, as they all have their own charm and particular potency.

The Conductor

Czech conductor Rafael Kubelik (1914-1996) is a member of the great generation of conductors born between 1908 and 1920 which includes names like Bernstein, Karajan and Giulini. After graduating from the Prague conservatory, he gives his first performance as conductor with the Czech Philharmonic in 1937, and becomes its Principal Conductor in 1942, succeeding Vaclav Talich.

When the Communist regime takes hold in then-Czechoslovakia, he chooses exile and leaves his homeland in 1948 going first to England, then to the USA where he becomes the Music Director of the Chicago Symphony (1950–1953), then music director at Covent Garden (1955 -1958). He guest conducts regularly in Berlin and Vienna and, in 1961, begins a near-20 year tenure with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (1961–1979).

This particular relationship sees Kubelik record great repertoire from the classical, romanitic and Second Viennese periods. However, Kubelik's wheel-house repertoire remains Czech and Bohemian music by Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů et Smetana.

The Kubelik / Ma Vlast Marriage

While still in Prage in 1847, Kubelik sets up the "Prague Spring Music Festival". It is the tradition at this festival that Ma Vlast be played at the inaugural concert, and that Beethoven's Ninth be played at the closing concert.

There is no better match than that of Kubelik and Ma Vlast - the patriotic Czech work performed by the sensitive conductor, hopping all over Europe and North-America while longing for his homeland.

Today’s montage assembles the entire corpus of six tone poems, from six Kubelik recordings available commercially. They are (chronologically):

·         1938 with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
·         1953, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
·         1958, with the Vienna Philharmonic
·         1971, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
·         1984, with the Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks
·         1991 with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Rachmaninov, the Pianist

No. 373 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. It can be found in our archives at


Blogger’s Note: As we review our many musical shares from our musical forum activities under our ongoing “222 Day Binge Challenge”, the Friday Blog and Podcast will revisit some themes from past Tuesday Blogs. Today’s montage is part of that exercise. The Tuesday post in question was issued on January 2nd, 2012. The programme reuses some of the same works and the below commentary is taken almost verbatim from the original post.

 Today’s blog and podcast is dedicated to Sergei Rachmaninov - not as a composer, but as a concert pianist. This is nothing new - Liszt made a fine career as a concertist as well as in composing. Rachmaninov did what he had to do to "feed his family":

Rachmaninov possessed extremely large hands, with which he could easily maneuver through the most complex chordal configurations. As a pianist, Rachmaninov ranked among the finest pianists of his time, along with Leopold Godowsky, Ignaz Friedman, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann, and is perhaps one of the greatest pianists in the history of classical music.

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as Rachmaninov had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, and his livelihood. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters (on an open sled!)

He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received lucrative American contract offers. Although he declined them all, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns.

He departed for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninov quickly chose an agent, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919–20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company.

From the many recordings he left us, works I retained include a few of his won, but also works by Beethoven and Chopin.

Due to his busy concert career, Rachmaninov's output as composer slowed tremendously. Between 1918 and his death in 1943, while living in the U.S. and Europe, he completed only six compositions. The main work in today’s montage is Rachmaninov as soloist on his fourth piano concerto.


I think you will (still) love this music too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Bizet, Seiji Ozawa, Orchestre National – Carmen / L'Arlésienne Suites

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

This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge is one of many available couplings of Georges Bizet’s most popular suites from his stage works, notably his two suites from the incidental music he wrote for Alphonse Daudet's play L'Arlésienne and musical selections from his final opera, Carmen.

The incidental music Bizet composed for L'Arlésienne consists of 27 numbers (some only a few bars) for voice, chorus, and small orchestra, ranging from short solos to longer entr'actes. Bizet himself played the harmonium backstage at the premiere performance, which took place 1 October 1872 at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris.

The play itself was not successful, closing after only 21 performances. The incidental music has survived and flourished, however. It is most often heard in the form of two suites for orchestra. Assembled by Bizet himself, L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1 uses a full symphony orchestra but without the chorus. The first performance was at a Pasdeloup concert on 10 November 1872. L'Arlésienne Suite No. 2, also written for full orchestra, was arranged and published in 1879, four years after Bizet's death, by Ernest Guiraud, using Bizet's original themes.

Ernest Guiraud, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, is also responsible for the remaining music on this Ozawa recording; Guiraud arranged twelve numbers from Bizet's opera Carmen into two orchestral Suites. Guiraud is perhaps most famous for constructing the recitatives—both beloved and criticized—that replaced the spoken dialogue in performances of Carmen for more than a century.

The original jacket notes suggest that the numbers from the Carmen suite were assembled by Mr. Ozawa himself.

Happy Listening!

Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
L' Arlésienne Suite No.1 (from the incidental music), op. 23bis
L' Arlésienne Suite No.2 (assembled by Ernest Guirard, 1879), GB 121b
Carmen Suites for orchestra No.1 and 2 (assembled by Ernest Guirard, 1885-86) Selections
  • Les Toréadors - Act I, Prélude (bars 1-119)
  • Prélude - Act I, Prélude (bars 121–48)
  • Aragonaise - Entr'acte before Act IV
  • Intermezzo - Entr'acte before Act III
  • Habanera - Act I, Aria (Carmen): L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
  • Danse Bohème - Act II, Gypsy Dance: Les tringles des sistres tintaient

Orchestre National de France
Seiji Ozawa, conducting
Label: Angel Records – DS-538096
Format: Vinyl, LP
Recorded: 25 & 26 June 1983, Salle Wagram, Paris


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