'Pops' Concert Favorites
René Leibowitz, conductor
 Wagner: Die Meistersing Prelude¹
 Boccherini: Minuet²
 Falla: Ritual Fire Dance²
 Walteufel: Skaters' Waltz²
 Saint-Saëns: Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso¹
(with Raymond Cohen, violin)
 Delibes: Intermezzo from Naila²
 Gade: Jalousie²
 Gilbert & Sullivan: Overture to HMS Pinafore²
 Grieg: The Last Spring¹
 Dinicu-Heifetz: Hora Staccato²
 Ibert: Les Escales³
 Chabrier: Espana³
¹Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
²New Symphony Orchestra of London
³Rome Philharmonic Orchestra
Rediscovery RD 125, stereo, 73:56, ADD
The Polish-born conductor, René Leibowitz
(1913-1972) lived only 58 years, and it is only within the last decade or so that his reputation as a conductor has grown substantially. Collectors have sprung up all over the world who now covet his recordings. The reason? René Leibowitz was an highly gifted conductor who never really seemed to get his due, at least on American shores. But record collectors always knew there was something unique about his music making. It is reasonable to assume that Leibowitz would stand out among conductors: his teachers included Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern. His conducting talent was honed by none other than Pierre Monteux, another legend among conductors.
Those who purchased recordings from the Readers Digest Association didn't often know what great recordings they were holding in their hands with those deluxe, budget-priced sets that were offered years ago. After those sets went out of circulation (including Beethoven's nine symphonie), these LP albums were quickly snapped up by collectors and often at some spectacularly high prices. Recording quality was first rate, and due to rehearsal time permitted for those sessions (not much!), an occasional blemish with someone playing out-of-tune could be overlooked given the overall musical quality of the performances.
Rediscovery has recently made available a generous collection of 'pops' type repertoire, and for someone like myself, who broadcasts classical music radio programs, this particular issue was especially welcome. In a two-broadcast tribute to Leibowitz, I used several items from this particular CD and received a number of e-mails and calls. Parenthetically, the second broadcast also included a "stereoized" version of the first-ever recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E-flat Major from 1884 (WoO 4)—composed when Beethoven was 14—with Paul Jacobs, pianist and Leibowitz conducting. That, too, brought forth some interesting comments. Unfortunately, Olympia (an Everest subsidiary), the label that issued this disc back in 1981, should have had Rediscovery's restoration team on hand to give new life to this otherwise excellent performance.
I'm not sure about the designation of Heifetz with regard to Grigoras Dinicu's Hora Staccato since the one on this disc is strictly an orchestral version. The single piece that really makes an impression with its orchestral sonorities and colors is Jacques Ibert's Les Escales (Ports of Call), which illustrates Maestro Leibowitz's outstanding ability to evoke every imaginable "color" one might find at any of these ports. Not having heard the "Rome Philharmonic Orchestra" previously, Leibowitz certainly knows how to whip his orchestras into a first-class ensembles. He learned well from his mentor, Pierre Monteux, himself a great orchestral colorist. One would quibble not at all with any of the selections with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Rediscovery restores their recordings from original LPs that are in pristine condition. I have not heard one of their recordings that doesn't sound better than the original LP. Surface noise is nearly inaudible, and the remastering is superb and they don't fuss with the audio spectrum to destroy the conductor's original impressions. The repertoire for this disc has been well chosen. I would very much encourage Rediscovery to offer Volume 2 of this type of material with Leibowitz, and, in fact, any Leibowitz material they deem worthy of reissue that hasn't appeared elsewhere.
Very highly recommended.
Lance G. Hill
______________________________________________________When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]