• U.S.

Music: New Records, Aug. 20, 1951

2 minute read

With an eye fixed hopefully on collectors, Columbia Records is pressing a series in which composers perform their own works. Stars of the first releases in Meet the Composer: Igor Stravinsky and Francis Poulenc.

Stravinsky conducts the New York Philharmonic-Symphony in Fireworks, Ode, Norwegian Moods and Circus Polka, plays piano for Violinist Joseph Szigeti in Russian Maiden’s Song, leads the Woody Herman Orchestra in Ebony Concerto. With the exception of Fireworks, Composer Stravinsky is represented by inconsequential pieces, but the disk (2 sides LP) will be a valuable, though perhaps dusty, collector’s item. Recording: fair.

Poulenc’s sophisticated pianism is evident in Mouvements Perpétuels, Nocturne in D Major and Suite Française (1 side LP). No dust will gather here; both music and performance sparkle brightly.

Other new releases:

Prokofiev: Suite from The Love for Three Oranges (French National Symphony Orchestra, Roger Désormière conducting; Capitol, 1 side LP). The six-part instrumental version of Prokofiev’s splendid-nonsense opera is bouncy and engaging. Performance and recording: good.

Bartok: Deux Images for Orchestra (New Symphony Orchestra, Tibor Serly conducting; Bartok Records, 2 sides LP). Early Bartok, with a touch of Debussy and a full share of Bartok’s own masterful orchestral technique. Performance and recording: excellent.

Brahms: Sonata No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 108 (Jascha Heifetz, violin; William Kapell, piano; Victor, 2 sides LP). Two fine talents give a touching and exciting performance of a late (1888) work. Recording : good.

Handel-Schoenberg: Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra (Janssen Symphony Orchestra of Los Angeles, Werner Janssen conducting; Columbia, 1 side LP). A somewhat colorless concerto grosso (Op. 6, No. 7) is brought to surprising life. Schoenberg expanded and enriched it with some sonorities Handel never dreamed of, but retained enough Handel to pacify any startled classicists. Performance and recording: good.

Debussy: Trois Chansons de Bilitis; Ravel: Chansons Madécasses (Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano; Columbia, 2 sides LP). An accomplished artist gives a six-song lesson in how to sing French. Debussy’s love songs are poignant; Ravel’s are sensual. Recording: excellent.

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor (Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting; Columbia, 2 sides LP). Thanks to the Moon Love theme, this symphony is practically a pop favorite by now. Ormandy & Co. show there is much substance to the rest of the work as well. Recording: good.

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