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Music: December Records

3 minute read

Some phonograph records are musical events. Each month TIME notes the noteworthy.


Album of Russian Modern Music (Orchestre Symphonique of Paris, Julius Ehrlich conducting; Columbia: 4 sides). Two years ago Dictator Joseph Stalin and his ministry of art, worried about the trend Russian music was taking, flayed the works of Russian modernists for reflecting “leftist tendencies.” Those curious to know what it was that worried Comrade Stalin will find it in Mossolov’s pounding Steel Foundry and Meytuss’ cacophonous Dnieper Water Power Station, both included on these discs.

Arthur Bliss: Music for Strings (BBC Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult conducting; Victor: 6 sides). A bustling, not-too-modernistic suite by one of the most gifted of contemporary British composers.

Puccini: La Bohème (Chorus and orchestra of the La Scala Opera Company, Umberto Berrettoni conducting, with Beniamino Gigli, Licia Albanese and other artists; Victor: 26 sides). Composer Puccini’s most popular opera, with famed

Tenor Gigli as leading man. The performance is lusty, not too refined, but good.

Mozart: Concerto In C Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 467 (London Symphony, Malcolm Sargent conducting. with Artur Schnabel; Victor: 8 sides; Concerto in C Minor for Piano and Orchestra, K. 491 (London Philharmonic, Lawrence Collingwood conducting, with Edwin Fischer; Victor: 8 sides), and Concerto in D Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 537 (Wanda Landowska with Chamber Orchestra; Walter Goehr conducting; Victor: 7 sides). Choice between the month’s three Mozart piano concertos is hard to make. Each of the three is one of Mozart’s finest works, each is done in top-notch style.

Beethoven: Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 74 (Budapest String Quartet; Victor: 8 sides). Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 127 (Busch Quartet; Victor: 10 sides), and Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132 (Busch Quartet; Victor: 11 sides). When gloomy Philosopher Oswald Spengler was casting about for the top artistic achievement of Western Civilization he included the string quartets (not the symphonies) of Beethoven. These three top achievements are given carefully tooled performances by two of the finest contemporary ensembles.

Debussy: Nocturnes (Grand Orchestre des Festivals, D. E. Inghelbrecht conducting; Columbia: 7 sides). Best recording to date of these subtle Debussy landscapes.

Boccherini: Concerto in B Flat Major for Cello and Orchestra (London Symphony, Sir Landon Ronald conducting, with Pablo Casals; Victor: 6 sides). Sixty-one-year-old Casals, playing one of the most venerable of the standard cello concertos, proves that he is still the world’s No. 1 cellist; accompaniment, spotty.

Schubert: Sonata in A Minor (Emanuel Feuermann, cellist; Columbia: 5 sides). In Schubert’s rather discursive sonata for cello and piano, Cellist Feuermann proves himself the world’s No. 2 cellist, a close second to Cellist Casals.


Vicente Gómez in a Guitar Recital (Decca). Three-disc album of Flamenco and other Spanish music composed (except for one number) and played by a 26-year-old Madrileño whose style is in its way as exciting as that of the great classicist Segovia.

Ten Famous Rumbas (Decca). Henry King’s band offers the most exciting and most faithful single collection of Caribbean rhythms, some (like Tabú) less famous than others (like Siboney).

A Swing Session with Benny Goodman (Victor). Twenty-four minutes of the most serious hot music now being blasted: eight sides, largely swing classics (Blue Room, ‘S Wonderful, et al.).

Get Out of Town (Les Brown; Blue-bird). New Cole Porter torch song played by a sound and rising new band of Duke University boys. The Brown band also has made the least offensive record of This Can’t Be Love from The Boys From Syracuse, Richard Rodgers’ most tunesome score (see p. 44).

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