Monday, October 27, 2014

Ten Records from the Classical Past

In years past, like 2009 and 2011 and other long-ago times, I used to write a lot here about my hauls from the Friends of the Multnomah Public Library books sales.  Since then, however, Mrs.5000 and I have apparently grown old, the key symptom being that we have lost the acquisitive urge.  I don't know if we even went to the sale last year.  This year we did, and our total combined haul of books amounted to, I think, five.

Maybe we're just out of places to put them.

I did, however, take the opportunity to buy ten classical albums at a buck a pop.  Genuine LP records!  They are my current favorite recording medium, partly because I think one takes music more seriously if it has a demanding physical form, and partly because, a buck a pop!

Here's the damage:

Music for Viola and Piano, 1987.  Spare pieces by Benjamin Britten and two unknowns, Frank Bridge and Rebecca Clarke, the later of whom was unusual in the world of classical composition by virtue of being female.

Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, 1963.  I know, I'm really stretching myself in the repertoire here, aren't I!  But I actually listen to the famous fifth less then the other Beethoven symphonies, except for the less-of-a-big-deal first two, so this will bring me back into true.  Also, this recording was in the tiny record collection of the small-town library that I cut my musical teeth on, so it has nostalgic appeal.  It's significantly slower than most modern performances, which makes it feel a little ponderous by today's standards.

Songs of the Auvergne, 1973/1973.  Volumes I and II.  These concert pieces by Joseph Canteloube, which some classical fans consider lushly Romantic to the point of absurdity, have become guilty pleasures of mine in the last few years.  We call 'em Chants d'Auvergne these days.  These recordings are sung by Victoria de los Angeles, and the albums are labelled "VICTORIA DE LOS ANGELES, SONGS OF THE AUVERGNE" and then have the name "Canteloube" in tiny tiny letters underneath, literally in parentheses.  I had the idea that the orchestra was the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but that was an obvious cognitive error (it's actually the Lamoureux Concerts Orchestra, whoever they are).  They are nice recordings, but quite unlike the other two very nice versions I have. 

Cello Concertos by Haydn and Mott, whoever Mott is.  1969.  Haydn and Mott, whoever he is, get a font size about half that of Jacquline du Pre, the famously doomed young cello star.  Pleasant performances of pleasant music, played with a little more Sturm und Drang then these pieces would get today.
Mahler, songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.  1958, and looking every inch of it:

The cover art was a big factor in my decision to bring this one home.  I haven't listened to it yet.

Schubert, Mass in E Flat.  Probably 1960s.  This is apparently Schubert's 6th and final Mass.  Who knew?  Likely to be a bit heavy.  Haven't listened yet.

Music for the Baroque Oboe.  Perhaps 1967.  Until the late 1970s, baroque music outside of Bach was quite an esoteric niche in the classical spectrum.  Recordings from the 1950s and 1960s are kind of fun, because they often lack the courtly lightness and constancy of tempo and volume that modern players give the baroque.  The modern way is supposedly righter -- more in keeping with the composers' intentions -- but it's also the reason why some people (not me, of course) find baroque music a bit sterile.  I like to occasionally hear it played as if it were written by Beethoven.

Haydn, Symphonies 44, 45, & 49.  1986.  The famous Hayden symphonies are pretty much all in the last 20 of his whopping 104, and I imagine I have copies of most of them in one format and/or another.  Being way down in the 40s, these are likely pleasant, tame, and new-to-me.

Walton, Variations on a Theme by Hindemith and Symphony #2.  mid-1960s.  Ever since there were records, people have struggled with the problem of how to make 20th-Century music alluring to the record-buying public. I don't know if the jacket design for this particular recording really hit the "sweet spot."


Ben said...

Now you can start a blog series on boring record covers...

mrs.5000 said...

Mahler on horseback! You have to admire that.

Michael5000 said...