René Leibowitz (conductor) on Rediscovery

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Lance
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René Leibowitz (conductor) on Rediscovery

Post by Lance » Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:23 am

Mini-Review

'Pops' Concert Favorites
René Leibowitz, conductor

[1] Wagner: Die Meistersing Prelude¹
[2] Boccherini: Minuet²
[3] Falla: Ritual Fire Dance²
[4] Walteufel: Skaters' Waltz²
[5] Saint-Saëns: Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso¹
(with Raymond Cohen, violin)
[6] Delibes: Intermezzo from Naila²
[7] Gade: Jalousie²
[8] Gilbert & Sullivan: Overture to HMS Pinafore²
[9] Grieg: The Last Spring¹
[10] Dinicu-Heifetz: Hora Staccato²
[11] Ibert: Les Escales³
[12] Chabrier: Espana³

¹Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
²New Symphony Orchestra of London
³Rome Philharmonic Orchestra
Rediscovery RD 125, stereo, 73:56, ADD
$15/postpaid. www.rediscovery.us
___________________________________

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.
Last edited by Lance on Sat Feb 17, 2007 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:16 am

He was very influential at the Bayerische Staatsoper as well.
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Holden Fourth
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Post by Holden Fourth » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:50 am

I'm a great Leibowitz fan thanks to Randall Wetmore, an occasional poster on this site. Thanks to Randall I've discovered RL's LvB, plus a a number of other recordings of both romantic and impressionist repertoire. His collaboration with Earl Wild in the Grieg PC is wonderful and his Ravel Bolero has to be heard to be believed.

The pity of it all is that he existed in a era of very big names and never got a chance to rise to real prominence while eclipsing many of those names in the repertoire he put onto LP.

I'll definitely get this recording.

Can I refer you all to Randall's Leibowitz website

http://www.angelfire.com/music2/reneleibowitz/rl.html

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Post by Ralph » Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:12 am

I'm happy for Randall, the conductor's great online advocate.
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Post by Lance » Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:51 am

Holden Fourth wrote:I'm a great Leibowitz fan thanks to Randall Wetmore, an occasional poster on this site. Thanks to Randall I've discovered RL's LvB, plus a a number of other recordings of both romantic and impressionist repertoire. His collaboration with Earl Wild in the Grieg PC is wonderful and his Ravel Bolero has to be heard to be believed.

The pity of it all is that he existed in a era of very big names and never got a chance to rise to real prominence while eclipsing many of those names in the repertoire he put onto LP.

I'll definitely get this recording.

Can I refer you all to Randall's Leibowitz website

http://www.angelfire.com/music2/reneleibowitz/rl.html
Randall has also assisted me by sending some of Leibowitz's recordings. He's done a great service to the conductor. By all means, everyone should visit his site. It's been a while since I've heard from Randall, so maybe he'll see this and start posting again.
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AntonioA
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Post by AntonioA » Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:10 pm

I got to know some of his Beethoven, also thanks to Randall who sent me a couple of tapes across the Atlantic, many years ago.

I have always admired Leibowitz in the French repertoire. I have a few Offenbach operettas, Berlioz Lelio and Schoenberg´s Pierrot Lunaire among other things (on LP) conducted by Leibowitz. An underrated conductor.
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Barry
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Post by Barry » Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:28 pm

Randall and I must have spent a good couple of years trading tapes of Liebowitz and Furtwangler recordings in the late 90s. When all was said and done, he was still a huge Liebowitz fan who was luke warm on Furtwangler and I was still a huge Furtwangler fan who was luke warm on Liebowitz :lol: (there was a lot of respect for the other guy's favorite, but individual taste is what it is).
It's always fun to exchange favorites with other music-lovers though. I've made some new favorites over the years in that manner. In fact, it was Holden who initially turned me on to the Stoki-LSO Scheherazade, which immediately became a big favorite of mine.
Last edited by Barry on Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:19 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:I'm a great Leibowitz fan thanks to Randall Wetmore, an occasional poster on this site.
Thanks, Holden. I knew I had trolled a site commended to us by one of our members. I just couldn't recall his name.
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Post by Wallingford » Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:38 pm

Leibowitz belonged in that teeny-tiny handful of conductors whose performances displayed total servitude to the composer (Monteux, not surprisingly, being another). Leibowitz's Schubert Ninth (on Westminster, mono only, I believe) is up there with the absolute finest.

His discs on the Oceanic label, however, are like the proverbial haystack needle, especially in mint shape. His all-Beethoven-obscurities disc (with Wellington's Victory, 11 Viennese Dances, & the King Stefan Overture) is still on my wantlist. His all-Ravel Westminster disc ditto.
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Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:01 pm

A Canticle for Leibowitz!

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Lance » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:07 pm

jbuck919 wrote:A Canticle for Leibowitz!
Say ... I'll bet Karl Henning could write the perfect composition!
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:26 pm

Lance wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:A Canticle for Leibowitz!
Say ... I'll bet Karl Henning could write the perfect composition!
Despite the simple nature of the message left by Blessed Saint Leibowitz (Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma) to the post-nuclear holocaust world, the entire book would be quite difficult to score, I should think. :wink: Still, if anyone is up to it, I expect Karl to be.

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:30 pm

Brendan wrote:
Lance wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:A Canticle for Leibowitz!
Say ... I'll bet Karl Henning could write the perfect composition!
Despite the simple nature of the message left by Blessed Saint Leibowitz (Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma) to the post-nuclear holocaust world, the entire book would be quite difficult to score, I should think. :wink: Still, if anyone is up to it, I expect Karl to be.
Leave it to someone from the country that produced Nevil Shute to figure out what I was referring to. 8)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

rwetmore
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Post by rwetmore » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:55 pm

Hey nice review, Lance :). I have the disc, and enjoy it too.

I real shame he never got a chance to make even a small number of recordings on the major labels with big name orchestras and full rehearsal conditions. I really believe, aristically and technically, the results would have consistently been on as high a level as it gets (and then some!).

The closest recording he made in these conditions was a 2 LP set called "A Portrait of Manon" with the famous Mohr/Layton team of RCA. It features an all star cast of singers (Motto, Di Steffano, etc.) The orchestra is the RCA Italiana Orchestra (really the Rome Opera House Orchestra I bet). The orchestra isn't the most virtuosic, but the difference is quite noticable. Every thing is tight and refined, and the singers are all superbly rehearsed. I really get the sense that everyone involved was totally at their best with a real sense of a special occasion under his direction.

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Post by Lance » Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:05 pm

Randall:

Thank you for the nice comments. Yes, I hope Rediscovery comes forth with more Leibowitz material. I'm sure these would be good sellers for them.

Has anyone - yet - done a complete Leibowitz DISOCGRAPHY? You might be the perfect candidate for this. Might you already have put something together?
Lance G. Hill
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CharmNewton
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Re: René Leibowitz (conductor) on Rediscovery

Post by CharmNewton » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:08 pm

Lance wrote: 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.
Besides LPs, they also use reel-to-reel tapes, which gets around the problem of surface noise and occasionally poor disc mastering.

John

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Re: René Leibowitz (conductor) on Rediscovery

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:11 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
Lance wrote: 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.
Besides LPs, they also use reel-to-reel tapes, which gets around the problem of surface noise and occasionally poor disc mastering.


John
Indeed, and they immediately notify the buyer which are taken from reel-to-reel tapes.
Lance G. Hill
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Post by david johnson » Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:01 am

jbuck919 wrote:A Canticle for Leibowitz!
flowers sprang forth from whence he trod.
rene (the other leibowtz) led the first 'rite of spring' i ever heard.

dj

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Post by Wallingford » Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:04 pm

One out-and-out curio among Leibowitz's commercial discs, however: his recording of Ravel's quite amusing, one-act opera L'Heure Espagnole (on Vox). In the very opening--that bewitching intro setting the scene for the clockshop, in which the various clocks chime one after another the hour of opening time for the clocksmith--the sarrusophone player DOESN'T make his cue to imitate le petit coq (the mechanical rooster that pops out of one gadget, whose crowing is imitated by a detached reed)....we don't hear that effect AT ALL!! Did Leibowitz intentionally leave this out for supposed reasons of "taste"? Granted, it IS a slightly vulgar effect, but therein lies its entertainment value, as is true of so many effects in this score.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

rwetmore
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Post by rwetmore » Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:11 pm

Wallingford wrote:One out-and-out curio among Leibowitz's commercial discs, however: his recording of Ravel's quite amusing, one-act opera L'Heure Espagnole (on Vox). In the very opening--that bewitching intro setting the scene for the clockshop, in which the various clocks chime one after another the hour of opening time for the clocksmith--the sarrusophone player DOESN'T make his cue to imitate le petit coq (the mechanical rooster that pops out of one gadget, whose crowing is imitated by a detached reed)....we don't hear that effect AT ALL!! Did Leibowitz intentionally leave this out for supposed reasons of "taste"? Granted, it IS a slightly vulgar effect, but therein lies its entertainment value, as is true of so many effects in this score.
Hmmmmm. Good question - I don't know.

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Post by rwetmore » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:16 pm

Lance wrote:Randall:

Has anyone - yet - done a complete Leibowitz DISOCGRAPHY? You might be the perfect candidate for this. Might you already have put something together?
I probably have over 90% of the studio recordings listed on the website, but I have heard he made hundreds of radio broadcasts in Paris that were recorded. I have also heard of some live recording in the early 1970s in Berlin. Never been able to track down any info on them though.

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