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