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Eugene Ormandy - Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra - Early North American Recordings Vol. 1 - Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 / Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (recorded in 1934-35)

Jean Sibelius , Arnold Schönberg , Eugene Ormandy , Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Eugene Ormandy
  • Composer: Jean Sibelius, Arnold Schönberg
  • Audio CD (October 14, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dante Records Lys
  • ASIN: B00000G4MH
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #763,641 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Mid-career Ormandy. June 7, 2014
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Eugene Ormandy was born Jenö Blau in Hungary, but changed his name in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He chose the name Normandy, after the ship he was sailing to America on, then shortened it to Ormandy because it was easier to say. These recordings were made in the middle of his career, after he had graduated from conducting New York movie palace orchestras and become a guest conductor of the major eastern symphony orchestras, even having replaced an ailing Toscanini for a Philadelphia concert. After this, he served as music director of the Minneapolis Orchestra from 1931 until 1936.

In Minneapolis, he discovered that live concerts could be recorded and released as commercial records without having to pay recording fees to the musicians. With this union stipulation in mind and the enthusiastic participation of RCA Victor, Ormandy and the Minneapolis embarked on a bold recording career in the middle of the Great Depression. He recorded Bruckner, Mahler, and Schoenberg when nobody had ever heard of them, and contemporary contemporary American composers when nobody wanted to hear them. Even so, RCA Victor lost money on this venture, though it paved the say for their foray into home recording playback equipment and high fidelity recording, which was just about to start.

An important quality of these Ormandy/Minneapolis recordings is their live aspect. Ormandy, as I have witnessed personally, was an audience conductor. He played better for an audience than a microphone, and the excitement of a live audience comes through in these mid-1930s recordings.

If you're not familiar with this LYS historical series, you should realize that their transfers are usually respectable and as good as the original source material, whose sound critic David Hall often described as "coarse." In this case, everything is okay, if not spectacular. Definitely for the historical specialist or Ormandy fan, but highly recommended.
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