Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Christmas - Some Suggestions for Music Lovers

As the Season approaches, may I suggest some recordings as gifts?
In the popular field, there are, of course, countless discs by many outstanding artists available to us. A few notable recordings to consider:
Torme and Shearing "do" World War II - So many of the really wonderful pop tunes were written during this period, and Mel Torme, with George Shearing, form one of their many collaborations; this recording being, in my opinion, their best. Incidentally, this performance was either their final, or next to final collaboration.
The Essential Billie Holiday - Recently I was given this recording, which was done in 1956 in Carnegie Hall by Holiday and such great supporters as Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge.
Holiday is in superb form here, better than any recording I can remember, and the quality of the recording is enhanced by digital re-make. If you like Holiday, you'll love this recording.
In the classical aspect, the two recordings made by Vladimir Horowitz and his father-in-law Arturo Toscanini are among the great performances forever preserved (actually, the two recorded the Tchaikowsky a second time on "I Am An American" day). The level of power and controlled intensity that these two icons were known for gives us a combination of excitement the listener will always remember. The Tchaikowsky Concerto and the Brahms Concerto No.2 were the two performances they committed to record, and one has to wonder why these two giants did not record more.
The nine symphonies of Beethoven have, of course, been recorded countless times; however, the two recordings I am most attracted to are the Toscanini and the Bruno Walter performances.
The power of Beethoven's message permeates the Toscanini incarnation, while the Walter interpretation has a patrician-like quality that adheres to Beethoven's language in a manner that intrigues me.
Just a few suggestions - hope that your Christmas list will be easier to assemble!

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