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 

-- 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


> 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]