Record Reviews

by JOHN M. CONLY

Bach: Cantata No. 201,Contest Between Phoebus and Pan (Helmut Koch conducting Bach Guild soloists, choir and orchestra; Bach Guild; 12" LP). Ponderous frivolity and solid music from the great Leipzig cantor, appropriately presented. If you like this, try Bach Guild’s companion piece, Aeolus Appeased, Cantata 205.

Bach: Organ Preludes and Fugues (Helmut Walcha, organ; Decca-Deulsche Grammophon: three 12" LPs in album). The blind Walcha is a Baroque organ authority and a Bach scholar — and plays rather like one. Proceed cautiously.

Beethoven :Christ on the Mount of Olives (Henry Swobod a conducting soloists, Vienna Kammcrchor and State Opera Orchestra; Concert Hall: 12" LP). This oratorio is an early work; but when good and evil clash, Beethoven always manages to make the clash audible, explicit, and hairraising. Good engineering, too.

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas. There is a bumper crop here. Wilhelm kompff (Decca: two 12" LPs) plays Op. 10, Nos. 1 and 3, Op. 27, No. 1 (Fantasia), and Op. 11 (Last) with delicacy in feeble recordings. Orazio Frugoni (Vox: 12" LP) offers Moonlight, Pathélique, and Appassionato in a powerful, nigh faultless bargain. Kurt Appelbnum (Westminster: 12" LP) delivers Appassionato and Op. 31, No. 1, with less finish but perhaps even more Beethovenian passion and vigor.

Griffes: Piano Sonata;Roman Sketches (Leonid llambrn, piano; Walden Records: 12" LP). The opinion here, now, and not uncontested is that Griffes was America’s greatest, composer. The Sketches are immediately appealing; the sonata takes repeated listening. The performance is good, the recording exemplary.

Kabalevsky: Violin Concerto (David Oistrakh, violin: Kabalevsky conducting USSP State Orchestra) with Khrennikov:MuchAdo About NothingSuite (Alexander Stassevich conducting USSR State Orchestra; Vanguard: 12" LP). Wretched Russian tapes and corny music, but Oistrakh is a bona fide digital genius. Magnificent fiddling.

Kodaly: Hary Janos Suite (Laszlo Halasz conducting Austrian Symphony Orchestra; Remington: 10" LP). Remington, for $1.69, doesn’t bother to mention Kodaly on the envelope, but does very well by him nevertheless. Zestful, excellent widerange recording, slight hiss.

Mozart : Violin and Piano Sonatas in C Major, E Minor, and G Major (Walter Barylli, violin; Paul Badura-Skoda, piano; Westminster: 12" LP). With the possible exception of the Szymon GoldbergLili Kraus versions, the best on records.

Music of the Liturgy in English (Ray F. Brown conducting student body of General Theological Seminary: Harold W. Gilbert conducting mixed choir; Andrew Tietjen, organ; Columbia: 12" LP). Here are Plainsong, more than a millennium in use, and Anglican Chant, with a 1549 communion service by John Merbecke. A most stirring record, highly recommended to all Episcopal choirmasters, hi-fi maniacs, and people with troubled spirits.

Rachmaninoff:The Miserly knight. Act II (Cesare Siepi, bass; Thomas Scherman conducting Little Orchestra Society) with Arensky: Variations on a Theme by Tchaikowsky (Scherman conducting Little Orchestra Society; Columbia: 12" LP). This is the high-fidelity record of the month; musically exciting, too although Siepi’s singing in English (unquote) is rather a wasted effort.

Thomson, Virgil:Acadian Songs and Dances, with Copland: Red Pony Suite (Thomas Scherman conducting Little Orchestra Society; Decca: 12" LP). In these attractive movie-scores, (a) Thomson outpoints Copland easily, and (b) Decca gives Scherman’s splendid orchestra treatment that should send him back to Columbia in a hurry (see above).