zondag 25 december 2011

Music for the Dead Days

Ok, Christmas night is over… Are you already fed up with the fourth Weihnachtsoratorium you just had to hear this year? The sixth Messiah? Cambridge Choir Chorals until you drop? Do you want to act on the word “Wham” when ”Last Christmas” bugs you for the zillionth time in the mall you visit? Don’t despair! Here is the Christmas music that does not feature any tunes wich crawl in your ears when you actually want to sleep, does not contain any people singing and is actually a very nice composition an sich. Perfect music for what the Dutch writer Natalie Koch so beautifully described as “the dead days between Christmas and New Year”…
It’s the Weihnachtsquintett (Christmas Quartet) from the Dutch Composer Jan Brandts Buys (1868-1933). Scored for Flute and String Quartet and composed in 1915, it perfectly set’s the introvert and reflective mood of the Dead Days, providing a suitable transition between O Holy Night and Auld Lang Syne… Click the link below for the music.
Have a Happy Dead Days!


zondag 27 november 2011

Liszt in a Ladies magazine...

Some records you take just for the cover alone... Like this 45RPM that once was a supplement with the Dutch ladies magazine "Margriet". I have several records on this label, mostly VOX re-issues, but non have that wonderful late 1950's romantic flair on it... What is she staring at? What does she think? Why is that candle there?? Well, in the end, 10 Eurocents well spend... :-) Greek pianist Rena Kyriakou (1917-1994) easily glides through the piano lollipops by Beethoven (für Elise!), Schumann, Liszt and Brahms, can’t go wrong there… Hope you will enjoy this curiosity!

zaterdag 12 november 2011

My all time favorite classical LP: Helene Boschi Plays Mozart

Recently, Dutch classical music station Radio 4 had an “Edison day” to commemorate the 80th anniversary of phonograph inventor Thomas Alva Edison. The broadcast itself was a little disappointing, only a few items had connection with the theme and a collector who wanted to play a two minute wax cylinder on the show was asked to shut down the machine after 30 seconds… It made a rather hilarious part of the broadcast, and hey, show some courage there on Edison day! Anyway, there was an intriguing red wire theme through the broadcast, which was he question “what is your favorite classical LP?” It prompted me to think about it, and all the usual suspects passed by; Glenn Gould’s Goldberg variations, Mravrinski’s Shostakovich or even Bruckner Six by Otto Klemperer… But… The one I came up with in the end was something completely different. It’s Mozart’s 22nd piano concerto, played by the Swiss pianist Helene Boschi (1917-1990). From the moment she steps in the arena (after the introduction with some awesome Czech wind players) you have the feeling that the concerto has to be played like this and not in any other way. It’s played so unbelievably natural and “right”, that from the moment I first put the stylus in the groove of this 1953 LP, I was completely blown away by it. The weird thing is, to my knowledge, it has never been re-issued on cd… Well, judge for yourself, I have transferred the LP (about a quarter inch thick, tha good old Supraphon pressings…) and put the MP3’s online.  Rightmouseclick to download. As a bonus, I added an interview I had with the Dutch Teleac radio program “Hoe? Zo!” about the transfer of this LP. It’s in Dutch, but you hear some examples of the “before” and “after” treatment of the crackles and pops… Enjoy the performance!

woensdag 9 november 2011

Hey! I'm not nice... (but I can sing)

There are these artists who just aren’t that “nice”. An acquaintance of mine wanted to have Elisabeth Schwarzkopf autograph on an authentic 1940’s picture of her. She took the photo and said she looked awful on it. He later found the picture back under the table, torn… She was a terrific singer. Elly Ney adored Adolf Hitler and was appointed to be his official “Kammermusikerin”. In letters to friends she complained that Jews were treated too polite in Nazi Germany… She was a terrific pianist. In the light of these two examples Dutch soprano Jo Vincent doesn’t come off that bad…  She had a mouth and was not afraid to use it. She was nosy, interfered with just about everything in the life of her pupils and when in 1960 she was asked her opinion on Dutch TV about then popular singer Mieke Telkamp she replied that “she didn’t sing, she just shouted in a microphone”… Beside the fact that I am not a big of a Mieke Telkamp fan, it’s quite tactless to say that before an audience of about a million people. Straightforward, honest maybe, but also a bit rude… Yet, Jo Vincent was an awesome singer. Here is a 1927 recording of her, made when she was 29 years old. A very atmospheric performance of Franz Schubert’s “Du bist die Ruh”, with Maurice van Ijzer on the tingly (hey, authentic 1927!) piano.

donderdag 27 oktober 2011

The human car-magnet… Abbey Simon (b. 1922)

Some guys have all the bad luck… Take Abbey Simon, pianist. Pupil of the legendary Josef Hofmann. He had a rocketing career in the 1950’s; a contract with Philips and all the potential to be “one-of the-greats”. That is, until he also attract the attentions of passing cars,  or… cars hat had the tendency NOT to pass, but to hit him… The first one was when he tried (I said tried) to cross the road in front of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. #Not. He slowly recovered from the accident,  that is until, well; you get the picture I guess… In 1954 his magnetism was focussed on pianism still, and inside the Concertgebouw hall (relatively save) he recorded Grieg’s piano concerto in a minor with the Residentie orchestra from the Hague (famous in that period!) and Willem van Otterloo conducting. As if it should be that way; the record was a “dump” from a… Hospital radio station ;-)
Click here for the MP3’s, right mouse-click if you want to save them on your computer.

zaterdag 22 oktober 2011

Your alternative suicide music…

Serendipity. When I was linking the Odnoposoff video in my last post, I finally found an other record I was looking for for ages… It’s the ultimate funeral or “oh-my-god-I-want-to-kill-myself” alternative for Albioni’s Adagio, (the people who know the brilliant Swedish arthouse movie “Fucking Amal” will probably know what I mean… :) called The Chaconne by Vitali. Equal to Albioni’s Adagio, it’s a fraud too… But who cares, sob along, light some candles and unashamedly let yourself flow in the stream of pseudo-baroque sadness… Especially when these qualities of the music are heightened by the violin playing of Ricardo Odnoposoff in this 1952 MMS recording. The appropriate inauthentic organ continuo by Heinz Wehrle comes as a bonus…

donderdag 20 oktober 2011

Ricardo Odnoposoff and my regret for hesitation...

Sometimes, you are just too late… In 2003 I found out that violinist Ricardo Odnoposoff, then 89 years old, was alive and kicking and living in Vienna. He had a new hobby, digital photography, and up-to-date enough in cyberspace to have an E-mail address where could reach him. I just found out his MMS recordings and had tons of questions about those subscription label records, which were pioneering in taking classical music to a new audience. Finally, when I had my questions ready in 2004 I learned Ricardo Odnoposoff had just passed away. Sometimes, you are just too late…

Ricardo Odnoposoff was born in Buenos Aires in 1914 of Russian emigrants. He studied with Leopold Auer and Carl Flesch. His career has spanned decades and he has played with all of the great conductors and orchestras of the world in that time. In the Concourse Musical International Reine Elizabeth of 1937, David Oistrakh won the first prize with 1620 points, and Ricardo Odnoposoff came second with 1564 points.

His activities during 1950-51 are evidence of his world-wide reputation: 48 engagements, 15 with orchestra, in Europe; a sold-out North American tour of 56 engagements; 49 engagements, 29 with orchestra, in Australia!

In my opinion, Odnoposoff resembles opera singer Benjamino Gigli in his statue as a performer; Not always the most "lucky" musical decisions, but boy what a tone!!

The following record was taped in 1950 for the infamous Allegro label. The (rare!) record itself lies in the vaults of the Dutch NOB fonotheek, the restoration of the sound recording was my job… Below the youtube movie is a HD link for better sound quality. All movements are in one movie (saves running to the computer :)

Ludwig van Beethoven:

Violin sonata no 4 in a minor op 23

Ricardo Odnoposoff, violin

Otto Herz, piano


woensdag 19 oktober 2011

Seven minutes of amazement… Authentic Ives from 1938

About two years ago an anonymous collector posted one 78rpm gem after another on youtube, just to disappear and leave his collection for prosperity … One of the records he left was this 1938 one with six songs of Charles Ives , sung by Mordecai Bauman (1912-2007) on the “New music quarterly” label. “Authentic Ives”, with a distinctively different, “heavier” pre DFD style of singing. Pianist is Albert Hirsch. Follow this link for seven minutes of amazement…


1. Charlie Rutlage
2. Evening
3. Resolution
4. Ann Street
5. Two little flowers
6. The greatest man

Go see the doctor…

When you visit a physician, you expect to walk away with all sorts of things. Hope, answers, maybe despair or clarity, even if the news is bad… But you actually do not expect to walk away with a bag of old LP’s. :-) That’s what happened to me last year. I told my physician about my hobby, collecting and restoring classical LP’s, and immediately he went into an other room and voila, I could transfer some very fine performances I did not heard before! The name “trio de Trieste” might not ring many bells today, but from 1933 till 1995 (!) this trio performed thousands of times around the world and recorded for HMV, Decca and Deutsche Grammophon. The original line-up consisted of Dario di Rosa, piano; Renato Zanettovich, violin and Libero Lana, cello. The latter was replaced in 1962 by cellist Amedeo Baldovino, who can be heard in this 1966 recording of Schubert’s second piano trio in E flat op 100 D929. Maybe not as passionately performed as other recordings of this trio, inward looking and loaded with suspense rather then brilliant fireworks. But didn’t Schumann said about this trio that it was “full of repressed fury and impassioned nostalgia”? Hope you will enjoy the performance! All the movements are put into one youtube file, something I like more than run to the computer every 15 minutes after a movement is over… Sound quality improvers when you put the video on HD quality, (720p)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iskfKi5Tog&hd=1 (HD direct link)