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Music: New Records, Nov. 1, 1948

3 minute read

For a while, it had looked as if James Caesar Petrillo and the record companies might kiss, make up and start turning out records again. But by last week the romance had cooled: Jimmy wanted too big a dowry from the record makers. All records now being released are either ten months old, imported, made secretly by anonymous musicians, or accompanied by choral groups, jew’s-harps, kazoos, washboards and other instruments not considered musical by the Musicians’ Union.

The following new classical albums are either imports or pre-ban recordings:

Berlioz: Requiem (Emile Passani Choir and Orchestra, Jean Fournet conducting; Columbia, 22 sides). “If I were threatened with the destruction of the whole of my works save one,” wrote Hector Berlioz, “I would crave mercy for the Requiem.” Seldom performed because of its huge size (300 voices, a tenor soloist, the equivalent of four small orchestras, four brass bands and organ), it is one of the great choral works of all time. The performance, an excellent one, was recorded in France during the war. Recording: good.

Brahms: Sonata No. 3 in D Minor (Mischa Elman, violinist, Wolfgang Rosé, pianist; Victor, 6 sides). Both Menuhin and Szigeti have performed this more brilliantly. Recording: fair.

Dvořák: Symphony No. 4 (Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York, Bruno Walter conducting; Columbia, 8 sides). Not as well known as the Fifth (“New World”), but, in Bruno Walter’s hands, it has much of the same melodic sweep and power. Performance and recording: excellent.

Dvořák: Quartet in C Major (Gordon String Quartet; Concert Hall Society, 8 sides). Dvořák was still under the influence of Beethoven and Schubert when he wrote this string quartet. Performance: good. Recording (on Vinylite): good.

Kodály: Dances of Marosszék (Andor Foldes, pianist; Vox, 3 sides). Kodály (pronounced Kó-die-ee), who with the late Béla Bartók spent years researching and recording Hungarian folk music, based these picturesque fantasies on Transylvanian dances; Pianist Foldes plays them with the insight and technique of a native Hungarian, which he is. Recording: good.

Mozart: Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478 (George Szell, pianist, with members of the Budapest String Quartet; Columbia, 6 sides). This, Mozart’s first try at a piano quartet, is not on a par with his second (K. 493). Szell’s playing is a little on the dry side. Recording: fair.

Stravinsky: Danses Concertantes (RCA Victor Chamber Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky conducting; Victor, 5 sides). Brittle and exciting, this is one of the best of Stravinsky’s later works (1942), well performed. Recording: good.

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