The first recording of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, made on February 4, 1929, Nathaniel Shilkret conducting the Victor Symphony Orchestra with the composer playing celesta…
… and there have been numerous impressive Americans in Paris since 1929, such as LSO/Previn and LA Phil/Mehta, and certainly the mid-1970s’ Slatkin/St Louis taping for Vox that flies off the page with idiomatic brilliance in this new remastering; that and the two short charmers, especially the expressive and gorgeous Lullaby, have delighted me on the many occasions the disc has leapt into the player, https://www.colinscolumn.com/vox-audiophile-edition-releases-leonard-slatkin-conducting-george-gershwins-orchestral-music-including-american-in-paris-cuban-overture-catfish-row-with-st-louis-symphony-orchestra/, so too my first encounter with Maurice Abravanel’s Utah Tchaikovsky cycle, https://www.colinscolumn.com/vox-audiophile-edition-releases-maurice-abravanel-conducting-tchaikovskys-fourth-symphony-romeo-and-juliet-with-utah-symphony-orchestra/, performances that have proved mysteriously moreish. I hope that both conductors’ complete Vox discographies will appear Audiophile-d – Abravanel probably needs a reassessment (I missed his one London concert, with the touring Utah ensemble, late-1970s I guess: Copland Billy the Kid (Suite), Vaughan Williams’s Symphony 8 and Brahms One) and Leonard was on the cusp of something big in St Louis with not only Gershwin for Vox but also Prokofiev and Rachmaninov before they moved to RCA to build a further catalogue of distinction.
Kerson Leong makes a strong case for Britten’s Violin Concerto being a masterpiece – at once belonging to its time yet also relevant today, https://www.colinscolumn.com/kerson-leong-records-violin-concertos-by-britten-and-bruch-with-the-philharmonia-orchestra-and-patrick-hahn-for-alpha-classics/, and, a few reservations aside, I was very taken by Mikko Franck’s conducting of Debussy’s La mer, and was intrigued to discover Robin Holloway’s orchestrations of the Frenchman’s Verlaine songs wonderfully performed by Vannina Santoni, https://www.colinscolumn.com/alpha-classics-releases-mikko-franck-conducting-debussy-la-mer-and-with-vannina-santoni-cest-lextase-robin-holloways-orchestrations-of-debussys-verlain/.
Continuing to be curious and discovering music new to one is a very important aspect of the lifetime’s journey that we’re undertaking. Therefore the following releases all found me a grateful recipient of the unfamiliar: https://www.colinscolumn.com/bis-releases-woven-lights-music-by-vito-palumbo-violin-concerto-and-chaconne-played-by-francesco-dorazio-with-lso-reynolds-francesco-abbrescia/, Palumbo a composer new to me, so too Annelies Van Parys, https://www.colinscolumn.com/royal-concertgebouw-digital-only-release-annelies-van-paryss-eco-del-vuoto-conducted-by-kristiina-poska/, and these works proved to be inspired calling cards for them. Although I have previously heard pieces by Nikos Skalkottas, such as the Greek Dances, the two opuses recently released by BIS, one a first recording, extended my appreciation of his output, aided by Martyn Brabbins’s ability to make complex music lucid, https://www.colinscolumn.com/bis-releases-two-concertos-by-nikos-skalkottas-1904-1949-for-violin-orchestra-george-zacharias-and-for-violin-viola-wind-orchestra-zacharias-alexandros-koustas-martyn-brabbins-conducts/, and hopefully music not for movies will allow Bernard Herrmann to be a less pigeonholed composer than maybe is the case nowadays, https://www.colinscolumn.com/released-today-june-30-on-chandos-music-by-bernard-herrmann-wuthering-heights-echoes-with-singapore-symphony-orchestra/.