Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol. 3, No. 5 (1929-02)

Record Details:

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February, 1929 The Phonograph Monthly Review 169 Victor 35956 (D12, $1.25) Johann Strauss: Die Fleder- maus—Overture, played by Nathaniel Shilkret and the Victor Symphony Orchestra. Another surprise and a delightful one. It had seemed that Shilkret’s sole excursion outside the ranks of concert jazz was the Raymond overture when suddenly he comes along with this remarkable performance. Has he been studying Stokowski lately? There is no small essence of the Philadelphian’s electrifying brilliance here. The overture itself is a joyous piece, far too little known; this truly magnificent performance should win it a larger audience. All praise to Shilkret: work like this makes one forget the over-elaborated and over-sentimentalized passages of his Foster album. This is straightforward orchestral playing and first rate whether one judges it from the point of view of effectiveness or sincere musicianship. Victor (special January 11th list) 6833 (D12, $2.00) Brahms: Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80, played by Ossip Gabrilowitsch and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Our prayers for a re-recording of Brahms’ genial overture have grown very weak of late, but they are finally answered. The absence of an adequate electrical Academic Festival Overture was a disgraceful gap in recorded literature. Gabrilowitsch, whose Espana filled another serious gap, comes to the rescue here also. His performance is a sound workmanlike one; the recording is good and the orchestra acquits itself remarkably well. I had hardly thought the Detroit brass choir as meritous as it proves to be in this disk. The coda leaves one a trifle unsatisfied, however; the final drive is not quite there. Like the end of the Meister- singer prelude one’s desire for sonority and expansiveness is insatiable. Perhaps one asks too much. But perhaps some- one eventually will do for the Academic what Bodanzky does for the Meistersinger, Meanwhile, Gabrilowitch’s disk will give a great deal of pleasure. Odeon 5158 (D12, $1.50J Prophete—March, and Tannhauser —Entrance of the Guests, played by Dr. Weissmann and the Grand Symphony Orchestra. The Prophete march is as brilliant and straightforward a performance as one would naturally expect from Dr. Weissmann. The Tannhauser side of the Studio copy seemed defectively pressed, so I can hardly judge the quality of the recording from it. Presumably in a normal copy this side would be quite as effective as the other. Odeon 3240 (D12, $1.00) Barber from Bagdad—Overture played by Georg Szell and the Grand Symphony Orchestra. A very ordinary performance and recording. This is evidently one of the earlier Parlophone recordings for re- cent ones are of far higher standards in every respect. Victor 36000 (D12, $1.25) Griselle: Two American Sketches —Nocturne and March, and Bloom: Song of the Bayou, played by Nathaniel Shilkret and the Victor Concert Or- chestra and Salon Group. This “$15,000 record” contains the prize winning works in the Victor contest for the best American works for con- cert jazz orchestra. Elsewhere in this issue details may be found of the contest and the winning composers. Griselle’s pieces won the first prize of $10,000; Bloom’s the second of $5,000. It is seldom that prize winning compositions exhibit strik- ing individuality. The contestant “plays safe,” hoping to win more by negative than positive merits. These works are an exception to that rule. Of the two Bloom’s is of somewhat less marked originality,—its idoms are those of much modernistic jazz, but it forcefulness is unmistakable. It is ingeniously conceived and vigorously executed. The vo- cal chorus is particularly effective. Griselle takes a more dar- ing course, employing the resources of modern jazz orches- tration with a sense of construction that few composers in this field have hitherto exhibited. Here is none of Grofe’s chaotic flounderings: Griselle has something very exact to say, he expresses it vividly and to the point, and promptly stops. There is good if somewhat unconventional counter- point in his pieces; they have real texture and substance, and are not all ornamentation. In the Nocturne Griselle uses the slurred passages made so familiar (and obnoxious) by the movie organ to new purpose and an artistic one. There are real feelings in this little piece, more than in many an extended symphony. The march, too, uses the new vocabulary to say something new. It is brilliant, nervous ecstatic, but it is well thought out—constructed and orches- trated with diabolical cleverness. Griselle is a name to be listened for in the future. Compositions of the quality of these establish him as a figure of both promise and accom- plishment in American music. The performances, under Shilkret’s direction are of a cer- tainty and snap that make even Paul Whiteman’s best efforts seem tame. If the Victor Salon Groups can play so well as this, they should not hide their light under a bushel in the future, but give us more performances of similar brilliance, Victor Masterpiece Set M-39 (4 D12s, Alb., $8.00) Schu- mann: Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, played by Alfred Cortot and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Landon Ronald. This work was reviewed from the British pressings back in the May, 1928, issue. It has its merits, but also serious defects. Cortot’s idea of the Schumann concerto is not that to which many concert goers are accustomed. A careful hearing is essential before the record buyer can decide whether or not it satisfactorily represents—for him—the music. At present it is the only electrical version. Victor (special January 11th list) 9156-7 (2 D12s, $1.50 each) Fabini; Campo, played by Vladimir Shavitch and Symphony Orchestra. Reviewed in detail in the June, 1928, issue at the time of this work’s special release in the Spanish-Mexican list. A companion work, Fabini’s Isla de los Ceibos (Victor 9155) was released at the same time. These remarkable symphonic poems, perhaps the finest musical achievements of our sister continent, deserve the attention of every music lover. Shavitch gave the works their premiere in Montevideo, Uruguay, and the composer was present at the actual recording, so these versions may be accepted as fully authentic. They are also brilliant and moving. Record collectors who have not yet obtained these records are missing the most original of the outstanding works of the year. Victor (special January 11th list) 9276 (D12, $1.50) Honegger: Pacific 231, played by Piero Coppola and the Continental Symphony Orchestra. Released originally as No. 59011 in the International list and reviewed in detail in the September, 1928, issue. The performance and recording of this recent concert hall favorite are fairly good, but hardly exceptional. The principal interest of the disk lies in the composition itself. Victor (special January 11th list) 4087 (D10, $1.00) Bee- thoven: Fidelio—Overture. Victor, (special January 11th list) 9275, $1.50) Wagner: The Flying Dutchman—Overture. Victor (special January 11th list) 9207 (D12, $1.50) Berlioz Roman Carnival—Overture. Played by Dr. Leo Blech and the Berlin State Opera House Orchestra. All three were issued originally in the International list (the first two under different numbers) and were reviewed in the September issue. All three are good; Fidelio and the Roman Carnival are virtually perfect! Victor (special January 11th list) 9278 (D12, $1.50) Gluck- Mottl: Ballet Suite, played by Dr. Leo Blech and the Berlin State Opera House Orchestra. Issued originally as No. 59019 in the International list, and reviewed in the October issue. The music is delightful, but the recording is shrill and Blech’s reading rather prosaic. Victor (special January 11th list) 9277 (D12, $1.50) Dukas: Preludes to Acts II and III of “Ariane and Blue Beard,” played by Piero Coppola and the Continental Symphony Orchestra. Issued originally as No. 59017 in the International list, and reviewed in the October issue. The performances and recording are fully competent; the music itself is hardly