Witold Malcuzynski with Alfred Wallenstein and The L.A. Philharmonic – The Standard Hour – April 6, 1947 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The legendary Polish pianist Witold Malcuzynski in concert with Alfred Wallenstein leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as broadcast by The Standard Hour on April 6, 1947.
I don’t know which is more frustrating; a recording so badly damaged that most of it is unplayable, or a concert where only a portion of a work is actually broadcast – one at least runs the chance of finding another copy someplace, but an intentionally abbreviated concert offers no such hope and its insanity provoking.
Classic case in point – for all the historic performances that were broadcast as part of the Standard Hour, a weekly series sponsored by The Standard Oil Company of California, which went back to the 1920s – of the ones that have survived, it was common practice, because of time constraints, to broadcast portions; movements of symphonies – extracts of larger works. Sometimes, if it fit in the one-hour format of the program, a complete work would be broadcast – there’s ample evidence of that in concerts I’ve run here over the past few years featuring Artur Schnabel with the L.A. Phil. or Erika Morini – but in this case; no dice.
And even though Malcuzynski was a Chopin expert, any live concerts are always welcome, particularly by an artist of his stature.
I hesitated to run this at first, but realized I wasn’t helping matters by not running this concert at all – I don’t think it’s been heard and I am not sure if the original broadcast discs are still in existence. This particular recording was made by a hobbyist who had his own 16″ disc cutting lathes (set up in his garage) and was a fan of recording concerts off the air.
So there you have it – a rarity marred only by what it was originally missing, but a historic document nonetheless.
If you’re not familiar with Witold Malcuzynski I would urge you to do some investigating – he was a prolific artist for a number of labels in the 1950s and 60s – there is a box set of his work with EMI and there are several YouTube performances from his later career.
In the meantime, something rare to whet the appetite.