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Gould – Spirituals, Fall River Legend, Ballet Suite; Barber – Medea, Ballet Suite (APE)

Gould - Spirituals, Fall River Legend, Ballet Suite; Barber - Medea, Ballet Suite (APE)
Gould – Spirituals, Fall River Legend, Ballet Suite; Barber – Medea, Ballet Suite (APE)

Composer: Morton Gould, Samuel Barber
Orchestra: Eastman Rochester Pops Orchestra
Conductor: Howard Hanson
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Mercury
Size: 310 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Spirituals In Five Movements: 1. Proclamation
02. Spirituals In Five Movements: 2. Sermon
03. Spirituals In Five Movements: 3. A Little Bit Of Sin
04. Spirituals In Five Movements: 4. Protest
05. Spirituals In Five Movements: 5. Jubilee
06. Fall River Legend (Ballet Suite): 1. Prologue And Waltzes
07. Fall River Legend (Ballet Suite): 2. Elegy
08. Fall River Legend (Ballet Suite): 3. Church Social
09. Fall River Legend (Ballet Suite): 4. Hymnal Variations
10. Fall River Legend (Ballet Suite): 5. Cotillion
11. Fall River Legend (Ballet Suite): 6. Epilogue
12. Medea (Ballet Suite): Parodos
13. Medea (Ballet Suite): 2. Choros. Medea And Jason
14. Medea (Ballet Suite): 3. THe Young Princess. Janson
15. Medea (Ballet Suite): 4. Choros
16. Medea (Ballet Suite): 5. Medea
17. Medea (Ballet Suite): 6. KAntikos Agonias
18. Medea (Ballet Suite): Exodos

Get Mercury Living Presence Before Its Dead

When I first started collecting classical CDs, I only had a few Mercury Living Presence (MLP) titles. In my quest to get the absolute best, or at least a definitive recording, of the major works of the standard repertoire, MLP discs rarely topped the critics’ lists. In fact, only three MLP recordings have been earmarked as “Essential Recordings” by — Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Byron Janis performing Rachmaninov’s 2nd & 3rd Piano Concertos, and Yehudi Menuhin performing Bartok’s 2nd Violin Concerto, all three with Antal Dorati as conductor. It is also safe to say that three other titles are equally essential for their historical value alone. They are Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake by Dorati (the first recording of the complete ballet), Janis performing Liszt’s Piano Concertos (the first recordings made in the Soviet Union by American technicians, musical staff and equipment), and Kubelik’s Chicago Symphony performance of Pictures at an Exhibition (one of, if not the single best mono recording ever, and the one that led the New York Times critic to coin the phrase “Living Presence,” from which the label named its series). But how does a CD line go from having a half-dozen must have recordings, to being this reviewer’s all-time favorite classical label?
The answer: consistently magical performances, captured in brilliant golden-age stereo sound, that offer a slightly different take on your typical interpretation of the great works. Of course, MLP also went to great lengths to feature music by more obscure composers, particularly contemporary Americans. While Dorati, and to a lesser extent Paray, recorded these lesser known works, Howard Hanson was their champion. Here Hanson performs some of the better known compositions by two leading 20th Century American composers, Samuel Barber and Morton Gould. These performances of “Medea Suite,” “Spirituals,” and “Fall River Legends” are truly without peers. Maybe that is why collectors prize these recordings, because they are a breath of fresh air in a homogenized world of listening. Of course, collectors love a challenge too, and MLP CDs are becoming increasingly hard to find. It has taken years for me to finally find all of the MLP CDs released to date, and unfortunately I don’t think there will be any new releases forthcoming. So collectors, and even those who aspire to be, should pick up as many Mercury Living Presence discs as possible now, before they all die.

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