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ARSCLIST  September 2014

ARSCLIST September 2014

Subject:

Re: Records Ruin the Landscape

From:

John Haley <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:41:36 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (219 lines)

Well, all the great conductors could be impatient with sloppy playing, but
that's not what happened as a routine matter with the world's great
orchestras that Dorati conducted, and not even in very good regional
orchestras like Dallas had.  All of the leading orchestras in that era had
no problem with delivering the goods and did not deserve abuse.  I have
never heard anyone describe Dorati as "warm" and "liked."  Obviously he
must have been very nice to the record company that was a major factor in
sustaining his career.

I also like Steinberg's Pittsburgh Brahms cycle, but Munch's Brahms
symphonies (the RCA ones, not always the live ones) are also really great,
altho he never recorded the third symphony and there is no live one
either.  Munch (who as a violinist had studied with Flesch had been
Furtwangler's concertmaster) brought something of the sense of urgency and
orchestral phrasing to the Brahms Symphonies that we hear in great older
recordings, such as the superb Weingartner's, which can make "modern"
recordings seem very pale by comparison, and RCA recorded Munch/BSO
stunningly.  Reiner also "got it right" with Brahms, as he did with
virtually everything he ever conducted.  His Brahms Third Symphony with CSO
is magnificent in every way.  And Walter's mono cycle with the NY Phil is
wonderful.  I guess everyone has favorites with staples like this.  With
Dorati, things are correct but not inspired.  I never tire of the Brahms
symphonies.

Best,
John Haley




On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 11:48 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> Hi John:
>
> Musicians who recieved Dorati's wrath, for sloppy playing or ill
> preparation, tended to feed the "reports" of his alleged ill temper. He
> actually was a warm person, much liked by those who made recordings with
> him. He was also known to be generous and to take regional orchestras to
> very high levels of competence. I'm sure he battled hard with American
> unions, and he got into quite a fight with unions and management when he
> was in Detroit late in his career. We very much disagree on his recordings,
> many of his are my favorites for various pieces (definitely at least partly
> a product of being brought up on those performances, but I have listened to
> the other "consensus favorites" for most works). He was interested in
> making precise and exciting recordings, but less coldly precise than Szell
> (who I also like very much). Dorati, especially in his Mercury era, rarely
> turned out dull moments. His later work on Haydn, both the symphonies and
> the operas, is still considered "the canon." I find it interesting that he
> was so good with Haydn but also with Stravinsky and Copland. I happen to
> agree that his Brahms cycle is OK but not great, to my taste. I'm not a
> huge fan of Brahms in the first place, so I'm picky. I think that's a case
> where the Szell treatment is quite good, but I really like what Steinberg
> did with Pittsburgh (again, probably because that's what I was brought up
> on), and also Solti/Chicago (which surprised me because I usually don't
> consider Solti "the best" at any symphonic recordings but never "the worst"
> -- Solti/Chicago also made a surpringly excellent "Rite of Spring"
> recording, more furious than you'd ever expect). Anyway, Dorati was very
> much liked and admired by the Mercury team, despite the occasional meltdown
> when the orchestra wasn't getting it right. His approach to music matched
> their approach to recording (get it right, overcome all obstacles, have no
> patience for sloppiness, do things boldly and with great intensity, be
> ambitious and optimistic).
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 10:47 AM
>
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
>
>
>  Re Tom's comments on Dorati.  Dorati was the conductor in Dallas for a
>> while, and he left behind him there a reputation as a particularly nasty
>> character, personally, to work for or with, and I recall having seen
>> elsewhere some comments that orchestral musicians generally disliked him
>> very much.  Of course he was not alone in that.  The Mercury CD's of his
>> Brahms Symphony cycle are all in stereo, and it is very good, not great.
>> Try as I might, I have never been able to "fall in love" with his records.
>>  Extreme competence as a conductor, but not the heart that other great
>> ones brought to the task, including the three other great Hungarians who
>> preceded him with leading conducting careers in the US, Reiner, Ormandy
>> and
>> Szell, all of whom made greater records (musically) than Dorati.  I am
>> sure
>> Dorati must have his great fans; I am just not one of them.
>>
>> Best,
>> John Haley
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM, Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>
>>  À propos the above comments, it was Doráti who conducted the MSO in the
>>> local premiere of Mahler's Third (I believe the year was 1953), but
>>> Mitropoulos had earlier recorded the First and Ormandy did an important
>>> "Resurrection" there, recorded in concert by Victor in 1935. Steve
>>> Smolian's recollection of academic opposition to Mahler is important to
>>> note; however, Mahler was played by the larger U.S. orchestras,
>>> sporadically but regularly from the teens on. Ernst Kunwald led a
>>> performance of the Third in Cincinnati (May Festival) in 1913.
>>> Unquestionably, Mahler was a beneficiary of the long-playing record, even
>>> before stereo, with important recordings by Scherchen, Adler, Rosbaud,
>>> etc.
>>>
>>> DDR
>>>
>>> On Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>> > Hi Don:
>>> >
>>> > Mercury didn't adhere to any "standard canon of classical music" except
>>> in
>>> > that Paray and Dorati both liked Beethoven and Dorati liked Brahms and
>>> > Tchaikovsky so those composers were well represented. Otherwise, Dorati
>>> > made plenty of records of Hungarian, Russian, Czech and other Eastern
>>> > European composers, plus an on-going series of well-received American
>>> and
>>> > European modern-classical composers. Paray usually stuck to French
>>> music
>>> > and Romantic era classical. Hanson was all about modern American music,
>>> for
>>> > the most part. Fennell was into a variety of things from marches to
>>> "pops"
>>> > to wind arrangements of symphonic music. None of this was "standard
>>> canon,"
>>> > and it was Mercury's main point of difference (note that there is not a
>>> > complete Beethoven cycle on Mercury Living Presence, never a 9th
>>> recorded
>>> > and no released stereo 4th or 8th; if I recall correctly one of
>>> Dorati's
>>> > Brahms symphonies was mono-only too). I would say the reason no Mahler
>>> was
>>> > recorded was that none of Mercury's conductors or orchestras performed
>>> or
>>> > advocated Mahler, the exception being Barbirolli (who was actually
>>> under
>>> > contract with Pye). It's also worth noting that Walter and Bernstein
>>> > started making well-received Mahler recordings in the "golden era"
>>> (late
>>> > mono/early stereo LP era). No sane record producer would spend very
>>> many
>>> > resources competing with Columbia's Bernstein publicity machine.
>>> Columbia
>>> > and RCA were much more obsessed with recording every note of every
>>> piece
>>> > from Beethoven to the 20th century, "standard canon" material, usually
>>> by
>>> > multiple conductors and orchestras. Finally, it's worth noting that
>>> Dorati
>>> > brought forth a lot of new-to-recordings material from Tchaikovsky like
>>> > original scoring for the ballets, first recording of "1812" as it was
>>> > originally conceived, first recording of the complete Suites. Dorati
>>> also
>>> > premiere-recorded several modern pieces. Hanson's recording tally is
>>> full
>>> > of premieres by the very nature of his American Music Festivals.
>>> Fennell
>>> > hunted down original band music never recorded and not heard since the
>>> > original bands, including Confederate sheet music found in attics for
>>> "The
>>> > Civil War" albums. None of this is "standard canon of classical music"
>>> by
>>> > any stretch. Mercury buyers were not wanting the Reader's Digest Guide
>>> To
>>> > Great Music, but Mercury made sure not to get so out there on every
>>> release
>>> > that they couldn't sell records. This was part of what doomed Everest
>>> --
>>> > too much stuff that no one had heard of, no matter how well recorded.
>>> The
>>> > last thing they did, as they were in the midst of shutting down, was a
>>> > mediocre Beethoven cycle with Krips.
>>> >
>>> > To part of your point, it's doubtful that Mahler symphonies were being
>>> > performed out in places like Minneapolis or Detroit in that period, or
>>> that
>>> > audiences were demanding it. But, I think if you checked concert
>>> repertoire
>>> > around the US, they were being performed here and there through the
>>> years.
>>> >
>>> > -- Tom Fine
>>> >
>>> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> > Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 2:47 PM
>>> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > <snip>
>>> >
>>> >  There are no Mercury recordings of any of these (or of Mahler), which
>>> >> shows they were not in the standard canon of classical music in the
>>> >> 1950s.
>>> >>
>>> >> Regards
>>> >> --
>>> >> Don Cox
>>> >> [log in to unmask]
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> 1006 Langer Way
>>> Delray Beach, FL 33483
>>> 212.874.9626
>>>
>>>
>>
>>

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