Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducts The NBC Symphony In Music Of Bach, Schoenberg And Siegmeister – Christmas 1945 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone
NBC Symphony, guest conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos with Astrid Varnay, soprano – December 23, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
A historic concert from the fabled NBC Symphony. This one featuring guest Conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos and Soprano Astrid Varnay was broadcast live on December 23, 1945. I don’t think you would call it a Christmas Concert per se, but it is a concert with meat on its bones. And that’s always good for the holiday season.
The concert starts off with a Bach transcription of the Chorale and Prelude; We All Believe In One Creator and then goes over to the then-contemporary Arnold Schoenberg for an orchestral setting of his String Quartet Number 2 featuring Soprano Astrid Varnay. The concert concludes with another contemporary composer, Elie Siegmeister‘s Ozark Set.
Siegmeister’s large catalogue of works includes a clarinet concerto (1956), which mirrors blues elements; a double concerto for violin and piano (1976), which, like the last movement of his 1965 sextet and many other pieces throughout his creative life, leans audibly on jazz features; eight operas; Shadows and Light (1975), a five-movement orchestral suite programmatically expressing his reactions to paintings by Degas, van Gogh, Klee, and others; Fantasies in Line and Color (1981), similarly inspired by five American paintings; Five Fantasies of the Theater (1967), in which each movement portrays the style of a particular playwright; musical theater and stage works such as Doodle Dandy of the U.S.A. (1942) and Sing Out, Sweet Land (1944); numerous songs and song cycles, of which at least fifty are settings of poetry by Langston Hughes, famous for his capture of many aspects of American black experience (the two commenced a Broadway show together in 1952, but later abandoned it); many choral settings; seven additional symphonies and many other orchestral works; numerous solo and chamber pieces for various combinations—among them a string quartet (no. 3) on Hebrew themes; and a Hollywood film score, They Came to Cordura (1959).
All good and solid for that December 23rd in 1945 as narrated by the inimitable Ben Grauer and played by the snap NBC Symphony.