Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, Part 10

Olive_Tree_II_copy[1]

Miriam Escofet, Olive Tree II, 2009
gouache on paper, 50 x 60 cm

Actually, not strangers but the parents of my dear friend, the artist Miriam Escofet. Kindness, though, definitely: recently Mr. and Mrs. Escofet gave me several old LPs they have no space for. The very first one I listened to when I got home pleased me so  much, I’m sharing it here.

Archiv APM 14 026 front

Johann Kuhnau Musical Representation
of some Biblical Stories (1700) –
I ‘The Combat Between David and Goliath’,
IV ‘Hezekiah Mortally Ill and Restored to Health’,
III ‘The Marriage of Jacob’

Fritz Neumeyer (harpsichord),
Fritz Uhlenbruch (narrator)
Archiv APM 14 026, rec. 15 & 16-Oct-53

The cover is printed in Spanish because Mr. Escofet bought the LP in his native Catalunya, before he and his family left for Britain in the late 1970s. I found his LP collection most interesting, ranging from medieval music (I took quite a bit) to jazz (sorry, not my thing). His daughter Miriam remembers the house always being filled with interesting and enchanting sounds – a bit like the Cave, perhaps, only less dark, tidier and sweeter-smelling, I’m sure.

Escofet, José Harvest [detail]

José Escofet, Harvest [detail], 1997
oil on canvas on panel, 96 x 122 cm

One reason I decided to share this Kuhnau LP is that, even though I like his vocal concertos, I’ve never enjoyed the Biblical Sonatas until now – if you’ve had the same difficulty, I hope this helps! I dutifully listened again to the better-known versions by Gustav Leonhardt, which are about as much fun as Sunday with Edmund Gosse’s father. Leonhardt reads, as far as I can tell, all of Kuhnau’s interminable narration – whatever his other talents, this ain’t his Fach (or indeed his native language). Uhlenbruch seems to have been a musicologist rather than an actor but, wisely, he cuts to the chase; and I like his archaic German and odd phonology (didn’t they pronounce umlauts in 1700?). Leonhardt occasionally speaks over Kuhnau’s music: bad, bad idea. And his narration is recorded somewhat off-mic, in a slightly reverberant acoustic, which robs it of immediacy and involvement.

Leonhardt plays the Fourth Sonata, about Hezekiah’s illness, on an organ, which goes well with Kuhnau’s use of the ‘Passion’ chorale, here titled ‘Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder’. He also chooses the organ for the First Sonata, about David and Goliath; but it’s a rather polite one and Neumeyer’s beefy but colourful Neupert harpsichord blows it away, especially at the start, when Kuhnau depicts Goliath’s blustering challenges to the Israelites (‘pochen und trotzen’).  A review of the Archiv disc in the November 1963 Gramophone is mostly and rightly favourable. It also states that it had been available for some time, on another label – that last bit seems unlikely, but maybe someone can confirm or scotch this?

The LP itself was in pretty good condition, despite some deposits of gunge from the cheapo polythene inner which seems to have been standard with Spanish LPs; I’ve only done the usual Brian Davies. I had to go easy on the narration – speech does not take aggressive de-clicking well – and what sounds like some groove-wear remains. There was no index card in the sleeve, so I can’t reproduce the texts, which would probably have been in Spanish anyway. I’m sure you can find them somewhere on the web? The stories are from I Samuel 17:1-58 & 18:1-8; II Kings 20:1-19 plus Isaiah 38:1-22; and Genesis 19. Apparently.

Three mono FLAC files, fully tagged, in a .rar file here.

Escofet, José The Forbidden Fruit [detail]

José Escofet, Forbidden Fruit [detail], 2009
oil on canvas, 85 x 74 cm

José Escofet and his daughter Miriam are both artists and they have kindly allowed me to post some of their work here. There is more on their websites, which I urge you to visit (links above). They draw on the same kind of long, deep tradition, rich in memory and meaning, to which Kuhnau contributed. I am lucky to know them and Mrs. Escofet, too, who also trained as an artist and is no less remarkable and generous than the rest of her family.

JOSE ESCOFET(1)

Miriam Escofet, José Escofet, 2007
oil on canvas on board,  50 x 40 cm
Selected for the BP Portrait Award 2007 exhibition
at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Screwier than Archimedes

Lyrichord LL 19 cover

Anon. and Sermisy arr. Attaingnant and Gervaise
Chambonnières, Daquin, Grigny,
Dandrieu, Rameau, Balbastre
Claude Jean Chiasson
(harpsichord by Chiasson, after classical models)
Lyrichord LL 19 (recorded 1951?, New York?)

‘Displacement!’ - just to remember the word, I had to get out of the Cave and go to the supermarket, that’s how addle-pated I am these days. I should have been working on the thesis – instead, I spent much of today cleaning up this beautifully preserved 1951 LP and trying to identify the contents.

I haven’t succeeded in all cases. Except for ‘Tant que vivray’, which any fule kno is by Sermisy, I didn’t try to pin down the pieces arranged by Attaingnant and Gervaise, as they published so many. Though I’m not sure which of Attaingnant’s three versions of Sermisy’s chanson this is. Nor could I place Daquin’s La Mélodieuse, as I didn’t find a listing of his many pièces de clavecin. If you can help, that would be grand. The first Gervaise piece should be easy, it’s so familiar. Everything else I managed to nail. Quite proud of finding the Dialogue by Grigny, one of two organ pieces here – the other is Balbastre’s noël ‘Joseph est bien marié’.

This is not the sort of harpsichord recital you could buy nowadays – far too eclectic and wide-ranging. Here’s what Chiasson himself wrote on the sleeve:

‘The reign of the harpsichord coincides with the period of France as a great nation, and of Paris as the artistic center of Europe [so it went south after 1791! Attaboy!]. With the advent of François I to the throne in 1515, the Renaissance of the arts in France was in full swing. Paris in the Sixteenth Century became the world center of music printing and publishing, ranking well above Lyons, Amsterdam and Nuremberg. The main publishers of music were Ballard, Le Roy and Atteignant, who between the years 1530 and 1549 produced many beautifully designed volumes of chansons, madrigals, instrumental pieces and keyboard works.

‘From the point of view of the performing artist, great research is necessary in the study of the old "Danseries" before determining the correct notes to be played, not to mention the problems of phrasing, tempo, and the general spirit of these little masterpieces. Sharps and flats are frequently missing, and enormous care must go into deciding where they should be added. The cold matter of the mere printed notes must be warmed, infused with breath, life and color, by the individual interpreter. It is precisely this open, free quality which makes this music such a joy to prepare.

‘It would be impossible in a single program to give a comprehensive idea of the rich mine of harpsichord music bequeathed to us by the great composers of three centuries. The program-builder is confronted with such a bewildering array of masterpieces, such a diversity of styles, that to select a general group to fit into the time limits of an LP recording is a difficult matter indeed. The present program was designed to cover the ground in as balanced a way as possible.’

Chiasson did a fine job, recording several pieces which are still not often heard today. One thing I specially like is that he segues many of the pieces, even those by different composers, as if playing this programme through in one sweep (maybe he did?), so that I had to start some tracks right up against the music and leave other items yoked together.

I also like his gutsy gusto in the Renaissance danseries, though maybe ‘Tant que vivray’ lacks a little lyricism. He’s pensive in the lovely Chaconne by Chambonnières, grand in Rameau’s unmeasured Prélude in a minor and tender in some of the more delicate, quintessentially French rondeaux (again, Chambonnières’ is a winner). Occasionally he’s a little rhythmically routine and four-square, a common trait in the age of the ‘sewing-machine’ style; and trills can be a tad shapeless. But there are breath, life and color here aplenty.

Here’s what the sleeve said about Chiasson: ‘Pianist, organist, harpsichordist and scholar, Claude Jean Chiasson has devoted many years to the interpretation of early keyboard music, especially of France. In addition to his multiple musical activities, which include extensive concert tours, Mr. Chiasson has for the past twenty years been active in the reconstruction of the harpsichord, refining and modifying his designs after the great school of the Ruckers, Couchet and Taskin. The instrument used for this recording represents the finest example to come from his workshop. At one time director of the Sunday Concerts for the Fine Arts Museum in Boston, Mr. Chiasson now makes his home in New York City and divides his time between concert tours and the building of harpsichords.’

Yes, the 1950s weren’t all Cage and Kerouac.

The recording is a little bright and brash. I’ve done nothing beyond the usual ClickRepair (nowadays, I also do basic low-frequency denoising) and some detailed retouching.

Thirteen mono, fully-tagged FLACs in a .rar file here.

It could have been worse – I could have spent the time moving LPs from one stalagmite to another. Or washing pants.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Uninspired?

Archiv 13 021 cover

Mozart Piano Concerto in A K.414
Heinz Scholz (fortepiano by Anton Walter, c.1780,
from Mozart’s Birthplace, Salzburg)
Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Bernhard Paumgartner
Archiv 13 021 (rec. 1-2 September 1952,
Festspielhaus, Salzburg)

The reviewers were right, for once – this is a somewhat routine interpretation (see reviews in The Gramophone of  this issue and reissue, recoupled with Sonata K.311, see earlier Grumpy-post). Though they preferred it to Neumeyer’s Sonata, which I don’t.

But most emphatically not a routine production! It’s surely the first recording of a Mozart concerto on a period instrument – and not just any period instrument but Mozart’s own Walter, from the Birthplace museum in Salzburg. You’ll find plenty about the instrument on the web. According to this 10-inch disc’s ‘archive card’, the poor old dear was  hauled onto the stage of the Festspielhaus for this recording! The sound is better, I feel, than the second Gramophone review makes out; I wonder how much ‘help’ they gave the fortepiano, which is pretty quiet.

Note that the better-known (and, frankly, better) Haydn Society recording of K.453 in G by Ralph Kirkpatrick and the Dumbarton Oaks Chamber Orchestra under Alexander Schneider, though earlier (rec. March 1951, New York, I gather), was made on a modern instrument built by Challis. You can hear that recording by courtesy of fellow-blogger Lawrence Austin or via the British Library’s Archival Sound Recordings site.

The next recording of K.414 on a period instrument was only in 1969, by Jörg Demus and the Collegium Aureum (issued in the UK and reviewed in 1975), an LP that has not been reissued, I believe.

So who was Heinz Scholz? As far as I can ascertain this was his only recording. He did some fingering for Schott’s ‘Wiener Urtext’ edition of the Sonatas. It’s not an uncommon name but was/is he related to keyboard-builder and restorer Martin Scholz, who worked in Germany and Switzerland?

Anyway, it can’t have been easy to record on the Walter; as I remember, András Schiff’s recordings on it were a little dull. Like me, in fact, at the moment.

Three mono FLACs, fully tagged, in a .rar file, here.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien

Lyrichord LL 12 front

François Couperin Pièces de clavecin
Claude Jean Chiasson
(harpsichord by Robert Conant, 1950)
Lyrichord LL 12 (recorded c.1950-51)

Having been driven way beyond grumpiness by a recent tantrum of mean-minded musical myopia on RMCR, I’ve been wondering why it is that I enjoy this LP (which I found in a charity shop in Clapham recently) and want to wave it about outside the Cave, even though I know Chiasson is not the ‘best’ harpsichordist on record.

And then I remembered the dictum which is today’s title and realised that it crystallises my feelings in this post. (I didn’t know it was Voltaire’s.) I’m not a philosopher of ethics or aesthetics, though I care deeply about both and frequently ponder them in a half-arsed way. I’m not a historian – more an anorak – though how we got here has always fascinated me. But I’ll try to explain.

Voltaire’s words, as so often, have many meanings. Two seem relevant here. First, by setting our sights only on the best, we often miss the good. There are good moments on this LP, for me L’Arlequine and the Passacaille especially. Would my life be poorer if I had never heard this? Yes, dammit, a little bit. And we shouldn’t throw away little good bits unless we’re happy to be wasteful.

(I also preach a sort of converse of Voltaire’s far deeper idea: only by experiencing the good and even the not-so-good do we learn to appreciate the best. At school and university, they made us read only Homer and Virgil, a pointlessly narrow syllabus which left me preferring defixiones (Roman curses) and late, ‘decadent’ poets like Ausonius: ‘Amnis ibat inter arva valle fusus frigida…’ – grand! Anyway, of the ‘greats’, my favourite was Ovid, the Mozart of Classical verse.)

Second, I think there’s a more literal meaning to Voltaire’s mot: the best can hound the good out of existence. Adulation of Argerich and reverence for Rachmaninoff can turn into laziness or unwillingness to give an unknown artist a hearing. One unexpectedly lovely phrase on a record or in a broadcast – I’m happy to have listened. It doesn’t have to be a transcendent, red-label, monogrammed experience every time.

Right, that was the aesthetical and ethical bit; now for the historical bit. I believe the drive for perfection in recorded performances is a complicated phenomenon, with many causes and feedbacky loops. I’ve now heard enough old records and read enough about how they were made to know that only the biggest companies and the biggest artists bothered about perfection – or could afford to.

This remained true well into the period when this LP was made. Would a small independent label like Lyrichord spend days getting Chiasson to get this recital perfect? Probably not. Could Chiasson afford to take days off from his life as a musician? I don’t know how successful he was but I doubt it. Surely, like thousands of musicians on 78s and early LPs, he went into the  studios and did what he could on the day. He’s a bit deliberate in places but he also shows deep absorption and love for the music. Is that reason to throw him away?

Another reason to want to hear Chiasson is that he recorded with Hugues Cuenod. There are interesting dribs and drabs about him on the net, such as this account of ‘The Harpsichord in America 1884–1946’. Has anyone written a decent history of the harpsichord revival?

Get the 5, fully tagged mono FLACs in a .rar file here.

And then head over to RMCR and and stick up for humane values and grown-up good manners.

This one’s a thank you to you, Benoît, for your exemplary uploads and kind support.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, part 9

Leffe bottle on portable

H.M.V. model 101 portable, Leffe brune

This was my paternal grandfather’s gramophone. Prompted by kind comments left at the Cave-mouth, I ventured out with my box brownie to snap it and one of my favourite drinks. Not my Grampy’s, though – I think he preferred India pale ale, after golf, down at The Cricketers, which is all a bit too English for me.

La Grumpy is the real beer drinker round these parts – preferably with pop-corn in front of Columbo (RIP). We love Leffe, both blonde and brune (hmm – there’s a motto in there somewhere). Unlike 2ndviolinist, we have never tried Radieuse (sorry to hear about the supply problems in Austin TX) or indeed any of the other brews. Thanks for the tip.

And we have never tried Westmalle, Corsendonck or Affligem – but with Satyr’s recommendation, we must! Perhaps with some Ockeghem or Ghizeghem. I have drunk Chimay but I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember much about it. It’s a bit pricey round here – at least three rabbit-skins a bottle. Another beer which I love and which we used to be able to buy, until the man with the clipboard faxed headquarters, is Jenlain, from brasserie Duyck. It’s also been a while since I’ve seen Fischer Tradition, from Alsace, a curiously nutty delight.

Dear Doug, since you’ve asked so kindly, I can’t refuse your request. I can’t actually play 78s myself, either, at the moment. I don’t have thorn needles for this thing, although I know a man who does; and it seizes up in colder temperatures.

The dubs from 78s on this blog are kindly made for me by collectors such as Paul Steinson, Raymond Glaspole and Jolyon. I have a modern variable-speed turntable with 78 rpm but not the right styli or pre-amp. I am lusting after the KAB EQS MK12 - should I get it (when I can afford it)? But I must finish this PhD first!

Dear Benoît, I hope to have another nice upload for you very soon. Thank you for your own contributions, which far surpass mine.

Leffe bottle in fairyland

P.S.: Blogger still won’t let me leave comments on my own blog, so thank you for putting me right about the model.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Farmer Grumpy says, ‘Get orff moy paast!’

Archiv AP 13013 front

Mozart Sonata in A K.311
Fritz Neumeyer
(fortepiano by Johann Gottlieb Fichtl, late 18th C)
Archiv AP 13013 (rec. 30 October 1952)

Apologies for my long, rude silence and a big thank you to everyone who has read this blog and left kind comments. Blogger has been broken for some time and I am tired of dealing with the pointless ‘improvements’ to technology which I had been happily using for months without problems. I hope to respond soon. The good news is, I have been writing my PhD! Slowly, but surely…

Still, I am known to slink naughtily off for some retail therapy. Yesterday, my bad friend Jolyon and I went to visit a kind man who sold us some interesting 78s and LPs from his gargantuan collection – like me, he can’t bear to see anything thrown away.

Among them were some LPs formerly in the library of a British university music department, which was notoriously closed down a few years ago. I was very glad to find this one, which I’m fairly sure is one of the earliest complete recordings of a Classical keyboard sonata on a fortepiano. Ralph Kirkpatrick was making records on one around this time, although I believe that was a modern instrument by John Challis. If you know of earlier or other contemporary recordings, I’d be very interested to learn of them.

I knew of this disc but had never seen nor heard it. Nor would you, if it was up to the record industry’s ‘To-infinity-and-beyond!’ copyright-extension lobby and its superannuated self-appointed terrors of the newsgroups, to the early music thought-police or to keyboard-lion worshippers and Martha Argerich scrapbook compilers. (NB I specifically exclude DG from this list of villains; I very much doubt they could sell this disc at a profit, precisely because of all the other people who would immediately tell us it’s worthless.)

Another reason is that this LP was apparently roundly condemned when first issued in Britain – unfortunately, the January 1955 issue of Gramophone is one of several missing entirely from the magazine’s archive, although the scathing review was cited (approvingly) when a 12-inch LP reissue was covered in November 1963.

No, it’s not the greatest performance ever recorded. But who is to tell us which is? Who is to dictate to us that we should never hear it again? That we should not try to appreciate the pioneering efforts of artists like Neumeyer? Are all today’s fortepianists really that much better? I think Neumeyer is rather sensitive and poetic in the first two movements. And good on him for going for broke in the finale – Turkish music was meant to be a bit kitsch, I suspect. Also, recordings of instruments by this Viennese maker are none too common.

Get the three fully tagged, mono FLAC files in a .rar file here.

Yes, like Farmer Palmer, when I see someone braying ‘deservedly forgotten’ and worriting moy sheep, I reach for my 12-bore…

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, part 8

Jolyon's NGS cake 01, 21-May-11 [trimmed]

Brilliant birthday cake by Jolyon!

This batch of recordings by the d’Arányi sisters was almost a chore, partly because of a couple of notably grungy discs in this batch (as ever, these considerable rarities were transferred and provided with great generosity by collector Raymond Glaspole; I have used ClickRepair and another gizmo)…

But then I listened to the Leclair and Tartini! Wonderful performances of these lovely pieces, such sweetness and commitment (you might wonder that they recorded such music but it was common in concert and on record in the 1920s). I even came to enjoy the catchy if frothy confection by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, which I guess is based on the novel Le Capitaine Fracasse by Théophile Gautier, and Godard’s Duettini (he of Jocelyne fame).

The other chore was identifying the pieces. I can’t find the original work from which Antonio de Pianelli’s Villanelle is supposedly taken. There seem to have been several sonatas by him (17447-1803) arranged for ’cello; but what were they originally scored for? Guilhermina Suggia also recorded a Villanella from a Sonata in G, which I’ve not heard, but I’ve plumped for that key anyway.

Despite what the admirable Creighton says, the Tartini Trio in F is not the work published in London in 1756 as Op.3 No.4; I went to the British Library to check the original print. That work has only two movements, with the same markings as these (so this too may be complete), but the music is not the same. Can anyone help?

Download the 10 fully tagged, mono FLAC files, in a .rar archive, here.

Debussy arr. Bachmann Rêverie
Castelnuovo-Tedesco Capitan Fracassa Op.16
Adila Fachiri (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion K 05198
issued November 1925

Pianelli arr. Salmon Sonata in G? – (?) Villanella
Brahms arr. Joachim Hungarian Dance No.5 in g minor
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion K 05231
issued June 1926

Tartini Trio Sonata [unidentified] in F –
(i) Andante, (ii) Allegro
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins),
Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion X 9877
issued October 1926

Godard 6 Duettini Op.18 – (vi) Sérénade; (v) Minuit
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins),
Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion K 05260
issued November 1926

*Sinding Serenade in G Op.56 –
(iii) Allegretto; (iv) Andante
Leclair Sonata in A for 2 violins without bass Op.3 No.2 –
(ii) Sarabande: Largo; (i) Allegro
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins),
*Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion K 05270
issued December 1926

Only one more batch to go! I was considerably fortified by Jolyon’s wonderful birthday cake. Visit his blog!

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, part 7

Royal Tokaji Wine Co Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Birszalmás 1990

I’ve no more nice pictures of the sisters or label scans – so I thought I’d pay homage to these fine Hungarian fiddlers with a different kind of label. I wonder if Jelly and Adila’s father Taksony von Arányi enjoyed a drop of Aszú? Or great-uncle Joseph?

La Grumpy just found this one in an old Sachertorte box at the back of the Cave (she’s been on a bit of a spring clean). The RTWC (with which I have no connection, sadly) has made some of the best Tokaji I’ve had the privilege of drinking. Their ‘ordinary’ 5 Puttonyos is pretty good but the single-vineyard Birsalmás is heavenly. I also have some of their first-growths, behind the dead mammoth. Maturing nicely.

Like the Baroque bonbons which these sisters played so well, sweet wines (except for the sole Sauternes oriental billionaires have heard of) have been out of fashion for a long time. Good! – all the more for us. I’ll drink them any time, with anything.

This first ten-inch disc includes an item by Martin Marsick, teacher of Enescu, Flesch, Thibaud and other famous violinists, as well as a snippet from a keyboard sonata by Mozart’s mentor Padre Martini. Took me ages to check the Galuppi. No idea where in Destouches’ ‘pastorale héroïque’ Issé this passepied comes from. Chrysander confusingly called the Handel No.7.

Once again, I raise a botrytis-beaded bumper to collector Raymond Glaspole, thanks to whose extraordinary assiduity and generosity we can enjoy these rare discs. I’ve left most of the noble mould on – just a light dusting with ClickRepair and some LF filtering. Download these ten mono, fully-tagged FLAC files in a .rar archive here.

Martini arr. Endicott Sonata in D Op.2 No.2 – (i) Allegro
Marsick 2 Morceaux Op.6 - No.2 Scherzando
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion X 9525, issued February 1925

Purcell arr. Lambert The Indian Queen Z.630 –
Act IV, Act Tune (‘Air’) [as ‘Andante maestoso’]
Leclair arr. Sarasate Sonata in D for violin & continuo Op.9 No.3 – (iii) Sarabande, (iv) Tambourin
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05168, issued May 1925

Galuppi arr. Craxton Sonata in a minor
Op.1 No.3 – (i) Largo;
Sonata in C Op.1 No.1 – (ii) Presto [as ‘Allegro giocoso’]
Destouches arr. Dandelot Issé – Passepied
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05203, issued December 1925

Handel Trio Sonata in g minor Op.2 No.6 HWV 391
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins),
Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion K 05222-23, issued April 1926

And I wonder if Leclair ever drank anything as good as this? It has kept me pretty happy over the last three evenings…

Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste Hune VT 1989

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, Part 6

T15167 Adila Fachiri c1908

Adila Fachiri, c.1908 (courtesy of Tully Potter Collection)

My survey of the recorded legacy of the d’Arányi sisters continues. It includes two discs by Adila Fachiri, who made far fewer solos than her sister Jelly. As before, we can only enjoy all these goodies thanks to the great generosity of collector Raymond Glaspole, who has kindly provided these transfers from originals in his collection. I have merely called on my trusty amanuensis ClickRepair.

We start with a fascinating rarity, a movement from a work originally for flute with harp, horn and strings by an Australian casualty of World War I. In 1934, Oxford University Press published a version for flute or violin with small orchestra or piano, ‘The Violin part ... arranged and edited by J. d’Aranyi’, so perhaps she had a hand in the version she plays here too.

Frederick Septimus Kelly arr. d’Arányi?
Serenade [as ‘Suite’] Op.7 – (v) Jig
Schumann arr. Anon. 12 Klavierstücke Op.85 –
(iii) Gartenmelodie
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion R 6141, issued April 1924

Brahms arr. Joachim Hungarian Dance No.2 in d minor
Weber arr. Kreisler Violin Sonata in F Op.10
[aka Op.17] No.1 – (ii) Romanze: Larghetto
Adila Fachiri (violin), Ivor Newton (piano)

Vocalion R 6138, issued March 1924

Couperin arr. Slatter 4ème Livre de pièces de clavecin,
20ème Ordre – (iii) Les Chérubins ou l’aimable Lazure
Kreisler 3 Variations on a Theme of Corelli,
in the style of Tartini
Adila Fachiri (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)

Vocalion X 9494, issued December 1924

Gluck arr. Kreisler Orfeo ed Euridice
Dance of the Blessed Spirits [‘Melodie’]
Kreisler Rondino on a Theme of Beethoven
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Coenraad Bos (piano)

Columbia 5427, issued August 1929

Download the above 8 mono, fully-tagged FLACs files here.

The Idiocy of Corporations, Part 1

I wouldn’t normally tread on the toes of the British Library’s magnificent online Archival Sound Recordings collection, which includes a transfer of the following recording. But some supplicants at the Cave-mouth live in jurisdictions in hock to behemegamoromediamoths©®TM which suffer from chronic dog-in-the-manger complex, and so can’t stream the BL’s files. To you, I make this offering – but don’t say the ‘content owners’ didn’t warn you when they shut up shop and refuse to invest in the next ‘great’ ‘band’. One mono FLAC file (please note: sides have not been joined up).

Bach Violin Concerto in d minor BWV 1043
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins),
orchestra, Stanley Chapple

Vocalion A 0252-53, issued February 1926

The Idiocy of Corporations, Part 2

This simple post has cost me hours. About four days ago, without warning, Blogger stopped formatting text as it has done ever since I first yawned, scratched my breech clout and peeked out of my antre 18 months ago. Line-breaks were ignored, vast spaces yawned between paras. After wasting time trying to correct things by hand, I visited the Blogger ‘help’ forum, where I read that others have the same problem. But I couldn’t post there. Closed to non-members. I’m a Blogger blogger, dammit. I applied to join, three days ago. No response. Maybe they’re trying to amend their meddling.

Then I read that Windows Live Writer works well with Blogger. To install that, though, I needed to install Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Platform Update. (No, if I’d known, I’d never have bought a laptop with Vista. Why do you think I’m Grumpy?) SP2 took 45 minutes to download, on a 1MB(ish) broadband connection, and something approaching 3 hours to install. Various ‘vital’ updates followed, more hours. Then: create a Windows Live account. Then, more time, choosing not to install various messengers, syncers and swymmers, not uploading all my and my friends’ personal details and mugshots, and ticking boxes so as not to receive e-mails, telephone calls and SMSs about Microsoft’s ‘products’ and ‘services’, thank you.

Live Writer does seem to work quite well, though. So far.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, Part 5


(Scan: courtesy of Mr. Julian Futter)

The bonanza continues!

As before, originals and transfers are by the great courtesy of Mr. Raymond Glaspole, with further denoising in The Cave; and the label scan has kindly been made available by Mr. Julian Futter.

This first record includes the Paganini Caprice (with piano) mentioned by Tully in his article in The Strad but overlooked in my first post.

Mozart arr. anon. Divertimento in D K.334 – (iii) Menuetto
Paganini arr. anon. 24 Caprices Op.1 –
(xxiv) Tema con variazioni: Quasi presto
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion D 02103
issued September 1923

The next two records make up an almost complete recording of a lovely Trio Sonata by Pugnani (there was clearly no room for the third movement Minuet) - hardly common fare today, let alone in 1924! And I'm pleased to have identified the delicious Boccherini excerpt, with the aid of Yves Gérard’s invaluable thematic catalogue.

Bach arr. anon. Concerto in c minor BWV 1060 – (iii) Allegro
Pugnani arr. Moffat Trio Sonata in C Op.1 No.6 – (i) Andante
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05110

issued October 1924

Boccherini arr. Moffat Trio in c minor G.125 [Op.7 No.1] –
(ii) Andante [expressivo]
Pugnani arr. Moffat Trio Sonata in C Op.1 No.6 –
(ii) Allegro assai, (iv) Caccia: Allegro
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05142

issued January 1925

Vivaldi arr. Nachéz Concerto in a minor Op.3 No.6 RV.356 – (i) Allegro
Hubay Scènes de la csárda Op.33 – (v) Hullámzó Balaton
Adila Fachiri (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05226
issued May 1926

This record includes what seems to be only solo side by either of the sisters:

Mozart arr. anon. Divertimento in D K.131 – (ii) Adagio
Adila Fachiri (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Bach Partita in E BWV 1006 – (iii) Gavotte en rondeau
Adila Fachiri (violin)
Vocalion K 05247
issued September 1926

Never heard of Norman Fraser? Nor had I. There’s a useful section on him in this article by Philip Scowcroft. The Cueca is a Latin American dance and the national dance of Chile, where Fraser was born. I believe he rewrote what had originally been a solo with piano as a duet, specially for the sisters. This is the sole electrical record in their Vocalion discography - see the label above, crediting the Marconi Company’s Process, which Vocalion started using in August 1926. The Fraser sounds rather plummy here, though, so below you'll find a link to a version re-EQd by a friend.

Fraser Cueca
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Spohr Duet in d minor Op.39 No.1 – (ii) Adagio
Jelly d’Arányi & Adila Fachiri (violins)
Vocalion K 05292

issued April 1927

Download the above as 12 mono FLACs, fully tagged, in a .rar file, from here.

Download a re-EQd version of Vocalion K 05292 here. There’s more ‘roar’ from the surface but the sound is more plausible, I think. The Fraser was short on higher frequencies to start with, I fear.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Jelly d’Arányi plays for The Strad

(Scan by kind courtesy of Mr. Julian Futter)

[NB This page is a streamlined version of the preceding post entitled ‘The Kindness of Strangers, Part 4’]

Below are links to two .rar files which contain items recorded by Jelly d’Arányi, singled out by Tully Potter in his article in The Strad.

Our deepest gratitude to renowned collector Raymond Glaspole for kindly providing excellent dubs of these rare original discs, as well as the accompanying discographical data. Mr. Glaspole’s transfers have been lightly denoised. Please note that sides have not been joined up in the Mozart Concerto or Vitali’s Chaconne.

The first .rar file, which can be downloaded here, contains the following records, as 7 FLAC format sound-files:

Vitali ed. Charlier Chaconne in g minor
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Arthur Bergh (piano)
Columbia 9875

recorded 20 March & 4 April* 1929, USA
[*or 6 & 20 March - there’s some disagreement]

Brahms arr. Joachim Hungarian Dance No.8 in a minor
de Falla arr. Kochanski 7 Canciones populares - (vi) [orig. No.4] Jota
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Coenraad Bos (piano)
Columbia 2061 M

recorded 6 & 7 February 1928, USA

Joachim Romance in C
Dienzl* Spinnlied Op.46
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05118

[*NB Dienzl’s name is misspelled ‘Dienzi’ in the sound-file name and tag]
issued November 1924

Hubay Six Poèmes hongrois Op.27 - No.6 Allegro molto
Anon. arr. Craxton Fitzwilliam Virginal Book - Alman
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion X 9981

issued May 1927

The second .rar file, which can be downloaded here, contains the following set, as 2 FLAC format sound-files:

Mozart Violin Concerto in G K.216
Serenade in D K.250 ‘Haffner’ - (ii) Menuetto; Trio
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Aeolian Orchestra, Stanley Chapple

Vocalion A 0242-44
issued November 1925

In addition, public institutions have made freely available several recordings by Jelly and her sister Adila Fachiri.

On the British Library’s Archival Sound Recordings site, you can listen to a streamed .wma file (or download an .mp3, if you are registered at an academic institution) of the following set here:

Bach Violin Concerto in d minor BWV 1043
Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri (violins),
orchestra, Stanley Chapple
Vocalion A 0252-53

issued February 1926

CHARM has made available two more records of the sisters:

attrib. J.S. Bach [Goldberg?] Trio Sonata in C BWV 1037 - (iv) Gigue
Spohr Duet in D Op.67 No.2 - (iii) Larghetto
Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion D 02146

issued April 1924
Download each side as a FLAC file here and here

Purcell ed. Moffat Sonata in Four Parts No.9 in F Z.810
Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05177

issued July 1925
Download each side as a FLAC file here and here

(Again, the Purcell Sonata has not been joined up.)

If you’ve enjoyed these recordings, please revisit Grumpy’s Classics Cave in the near future, when a great deal more will be made available!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Kindness of Strangers, Part 4

(scan: courtesy of CHARM)

I don't really know where to start. What have we done to deserve this bounty? Never mind, let's just sit back and enjoy it.

Tully Potter has written an article for The Strad about the d’Arányi sisters, Jelly and Adila (later Fachiri). He needed somewhere to park some audio examples for readers - but, obviously, he’s got better things to do than arse about on the web like your servant. I offered to post them for him. So he only just flipping goes and dumps 5 CDRs’ worth of inestimable treasures on the muddy sward outside the Cave...

They contain just about the complete commercially recorded legacy of these Hungarian-born siblings, grand nieces of Joachim and pupils of Hubay. (There's an interesting post about Jelly on Peter Sheppard Skaerved’s blog; otherwise, it's Wikipedia).

The true source of this cornucopia is renowned collector Raymond Glaspole - originals in fine condition, excellent dubs (lightly whipped by me through the default declick and decrackle settings for 78s on ClickRepair), discographical data and all. Amazing. Our deepest gratitude to him.

It’s going to take many posts, so I'm starting with single-disc items recorded by Jelly, which Tully Potter has mentioned in his article:

Vitali ed. Charlier Chaconne in g minor
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Arthur Bergh (piano)
Columbia 9875
recorded 20 March & 4 April* 1929, USA
[*or 6 & 20 March - there’s some disagreement]
(Review in the October 1929 issue of The Gramophone here)

Brahms arr. Joachim Hungarian Dance No.8 in a minor
de Falla arr. Kochanski 7 Canciones populares -
(vi) [orig. No.4] Jota
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Coenraad Bos (piano)
Columbia 2061 M
recorded 6 & 7 February 1928, USA
(Review of British issue of the Brahms side
in the February 1930 issue of The Gramophone here)

Joachim Romance in C
Dienzl* Spinnlied Op.46
[*Apologies, I have misspelled his name as Dienzi in the sound-file name and tags]
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05118
issued November 1924
(Somewhat dismissive review
in the December 1924 issue of The Gramophone here)

Hubay Six Poèmes hongrois Op.27 - No.6 Allegro molto
Anon.* arr. Craxton Fitzwilliam Virginal Book - Alman
[‘played with mutes’; *anyone know the composer?]
Jelly d’Arányi (violin), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion X 9981
issued May 1927; despite the late date, an acoustical record
(Review - or mention, really - in the May 1927 issue of The Gramophone here)

Download the 7 fully tagged mono FLAC files, in a .rar file, here

Plus one set, which especially appeals to me:

Mozart Violin Concerto in G K.216
Serenade in D K.250 ‘Haffner’ - (ii) Menuetto; Trio
Jelly d’Arányi (violin),
Aeolian Orchestra, Stanley Chapple
Vocalion A 0242-44
issued November 1925
(Review in the November 1925 issue of The Gramophone here)

Download the 2 fully tagged mono FLAC files, in a .rar file, here

Please note that sides have not been joined up in the Mozart Concerto or the Vitali Chaconne.

In addition, public institutions have made freely available several recordings by Jelly and her sister Adila Fachiri.

On the British Library’s Archival Sound Recordings site you will find:

Bach Violin Concerto in d minor BWV 1043
Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri (violins),
orchestra, Stanley Chapple
Vocalion A 0252-53
issued February 1926
Listen to a streamed .wma (or download an .mp3
if you are registered at an academic institution) here
(Review in the February 1926 issue of The Gramophone here)

CHARM transferred two more lovely Vocalion records of the sisters:

attrib. J.S. Bach [Goldberg?]
Trio Sonata in C BWV 1037 - (iv) Gigue
Spohr Duet in D Op.67 No.2 - (iii) Larghetto
Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion D 02146
issued April 1924
(Review - of sorts - in the April 1924 issue of The Gramophone here)
Download each side as a FLAC file here and here

Purcell ed. Moffat Sonata in Four Parts No.9 in F Z.810 ‘Golden’
Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri (violins), Ethel Hobday (piano)
Vocalion K 05177
issued July 1925
(Review in the August 1925 issue of The Gramophone here)
Download each side as a FLAC file here and here

(Again, as with all CHARM transfers, the Purcell Sonata has not been joined up.)

(scan: courtesy of CHARM)

Please revisit the Cave for more over the next few days and weeks.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

In der Höhle ward gut getrunken

I’m sorry, it’s been more chaotic than usual in the Cave - which has resounded to the carousing of teutono-oenophiles:


And I’m afraid I’ve done no work and little else of any use... But my kind, industrious friend in the outside world, Jolyon, has lent me a lovely LP of 17th Century German consort music to share with you.

Hassler 4 Intradas (1601)
Demantius 4 Galliards (1601)
Franck 4 Dances (1604)
Rosenmüller Suite in d (1654)
Biber Serenata ‘Der Nachtwächter’*

Philomusica of London, leader Granville Jones
*plus some people shouting in the distance
directed by Thurston Dart (harpsichord)

L’Oiseau-Lyre OL 50175, rec. July 1957

I say lovely - the sounds are lovely but I do wonder why Dart recorded this and similar repertoire (such as Dowland’s complete Lachrimae) with many strings. From someone with his flair for the dramatic, these beautiful but plush sonorities seem a miscalculation, slightly disarming this wonderful music. Still, I can’t agree with The Gramophone’s reviewer who, in August 1960, found the dances a bit samey and was unimpressed by the Biber. 17th Century German consorts are some of my favourite fare, as are nobly rotten Rieslings, and the deeper recesses of the Cave are well stocked with both.

5 mono, fully-tagged FLAC files in a .rar archive can be downloaded here. Apologies, I guessed a recording date of 1959 and uploaded the files tagged thus, before checking CHARM and finding that Michael Gray gives July (possibly 1st July) 1957.

Dart’s characteristic sleeve-note says it all:

‘The spectacular development of violin music by Italian composers of the 17th and early 18th centuries has tended to overshadow in our eyes its growth in the other countries of Europe. Yet it was in France that the first professional string orchestra was established, as early as 1555, under the direction of the Frenchified Italian, Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx. Later this body became the famous Vingt-Quatre Violons, and it provided the French court with all its music for ballet and dancing during the next hundred years or so. Itinerant French dancing-masters taught all Europe the new French dance-steps, to the shrill sounds of their little violins (kits or pochettes); and similar string bands had been established in most of the princely courts of northern Europe by the third decade of the seventeenth century. Some extracts from the repertoire of the 24 Violons have been issued on OL 50174 (‘French String Music, Louis XIII to Louis XV’).

‘In Germany the development of dance music was enriched by elements persisting from the older, native style of the 16th century – the Allemande, after all, is only a Frenchified version of a native German dance – and by the English consort music circulated in Germany by such expatriates as Thomas Simpson and William Brade. Both Simpson and Brade held important posts in North Germany and Denmark during the first twenty years of the 17th century; some of their dances have been recorded on OL 50127 (‘Dances of Shakespeare’s Time’).

‘Side 1 of the present disc explores some of the string music composed by three leading composers of German-speaking Europe: Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), born at Nuremberg and working in Augsburg, Ulm, Prague and Dresden; Melchior Franck (1573-1639), born at Zittau, and working in Augsburg, Nuremberg and Coburg; and Christoph Demantius (1567-1643), born at Reichenberg, and working in Leipzig, Zittau and Freiberg. The side begins with four Intradas from Hassler’s ‘Pleasure-Garden’ (1601: nos. I, II, V, IX), for six-part strings – effortlessly polyphonic and richly sonorous music. Next come four 5-part Galliards selected from the ten contained in Demantius’s collection of ‘77 ... dances in the Polish and German style’, published in 1601. The side ends with four 4-part dances by Melchior Franck, from his ‘German Secular Songs and Dances’ (1604: nos. 11, 3, 26, 21): an untitled dance, which any French dancing-master would have classed as an Allemande; an eloquent Pavana; a brisk Galliard; and another untitled Allemande.

‘Side 2 tries to illustrate how these seeds grew into the more elaborate and mature style of later 17th-century orchestral music from central Europe. The side begins with a Suite for 5-part strings and continue by Johann Rosenmüller (1619-1684), born in Saxony, assistant master of the Thomasschule, Leipzig, from 1642 to 1655, and later working in Hamburg, Venice and Wolfenbüttel. His collection of ‘Music for Students’ was published in Leipzig in 1654, and was intended for the predecessors of Bach’s club of young University musicians. From it we have chosen the second Suite in D minor: Paduan, Alemanda, Courant, Ballo, Sarabanda. Rosenmüller has contrived the last four of these so that, if need be, they can be played in only three parts, without violas. Since the Paduan cannot be so played, he has supplied an alternative 3-part Paduan – omitted from this disc, since we use a five-part orchestra.

‘The side ends with a Serenade for five-part strings and continue by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), born in Bohemia, and working in Prague, Olmütz (Olomouc in Czecho-Slovakia) and Salzburg. Biber was one of the most gifted composers of his time, with a highly original style; many historians speak admiringly of his rather eccentric music for solo violin, but few have paused to examine his much finer music for various orchestral ensembles. His Serenade, written while he was at Olmütz, begins with an Intrada (called simply ‘Serenada’) in two contrasting sections, followed by an Allemanda and a triple-time Aria. A Ciacona comes next; in this the lower strings are silent, the violins and violas play pizzicato throughout, imitating the sound of lutes, and the night-watchmen are heard in the distance, singing their traditional curfew song. For the recording I have made an English adaptation of the original German words: ‘Praise the Lord, may he be praised; the bell has now struck nine (ten) o’clock; douse fire, and bolt the door; and praise the Lord our Saviour, and our sweet Lady’. This most original movement is followed by a Gavotte, and the Serenade ends with a Retirada (‘Retreat’), as the musicians move away into the darkness and the town falls asleep.’