Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OK, I'll play: 15 (or so) most memorable recordings, frequently played

I usually don't like memes, but this one appeals, and it's even something I've been thinking about recently. Alex on Wellsung
posted this idea, in which you list the 15 albums that made the most impression on you and which you played repeatedly, and ideally you can still remember events or feelings associated with the time when you first heard the music.

So here's my own list, which I'm going to type up without researching in my collection, and it might not be exactly 15:

1. Sibelius' Symphony No. 2, Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra -- borrowed on vinyl from the public library during college break around 1980; started a lifelong love affair with Sibelius' music

2. Borodin's "Prince Igor", Bulgarian forces with bass Boris Christoff as Igor and Khan Konchak on EMI. It is not a highly regarded set, and its deficiencies were more obvious to me later when I'd heard other performances -- but it's all about Christoff and it was my first exposure to a complete performance of what was an elusive opera to hunt down.

3. Russian orchestral masterpieces, including Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol and Gliere's Russian Sailor's Dance ending at breakneck speed, Ormandy and the Philadelphia (?)

4. "Dawn on the Moskva River" from Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" played ever so dreamily by the NY Philharmonic (?) with Bernstein conducting

5. Probably several different recordings of "Night on Bald Mountain"

6. Paul Simon's "Graceland" album

7. Nimbus recordings of Jussi Bjoerling in song and aria, most notably his Puccini arias (in Italian, not Swedish) and Beethoven's "Adelaide", and the collection of various classical and popular songs sung mostly in Swedish but ending with "O, Sole Mio" in Italian. (An English uncle who had heard Bjoerling in performance spoke fondly of him before I started finding albums by him.)

8. Solti's Ring cycle on Decca (well, that's 14 or 15 discs right there); not that I've put this set on repeatedly, but many segments ring in the memory

9. Cafe Oran

10. "In the Fiddler's House", Itzhak Perlman and several great Klezmer ensembles

11. Suite from "Swan Lake" with Karajan conducting on DG

12. "The Wood Nymph", by Sibelius, Vanska and the Lahti Symphony on BIS

13. "Mazeppa", by Liszt, Karajan and the Berlin on DG; no other recording will do; heard many, many times in a very difficult year of my life

14. that demonic "Gigue" by Lourie on Marc-Andre Hamelin's "Kaleidoscope" disc

15. Neeme Jarvi and the Scottish National Orchestra's set of Rimsky-Korsakov suites on Chandos

16. I do have a Baroque one: Christie and Rousset's Couperin album on Harmonia Mundi -- now I'm double checking titles in my collection -- which ends with a stunning display of duelling harpsichords in Musete de Choisi and Musete de Taverni.

17. one of the Los Lobos band's collections, "Del Este De Los Angeles" (along with other albums by them, especially "La Pistola y El Corazon")

18. Rutland Boughton's rare opera, "The Immortal Hour," on Hyperion.

19. Chris Norman's "The Man with the Wooden Flute"

20. Carlos Kleiber conducting "Der Freischutz" by Weber with Gundula Janowitz gorgeous in her arias besides other attractions to the set

21. The Seekers: There was a vinyl LP of their hits in the home when I was a kid, then I bought the 5-disc set of The Seekers Complete.