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David A. Wend RSS Feed (Chicago, IL USA)
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Memorex MD6451 CD Player - Black Memorex MD6451 CD Player - Black
Memorex MD6451 CD Player - Black Memorex MD6451 CD Player - Black
Offered by Easy Buyz
Price: $29.95
6 used & new from $12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Portable CD Player, December 16, 2014
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This is an excellent CD player. After putting up with one player that sounded like every CD was recorded in a cave (made by Curtis) and another (made by GPX) that refused to play some discs, I bought the Memorex player. The sound is clear and balanced with controls that are well-placed and easy to use. If you are looking for a portable CD player, I would recommend this one without hesitation.


Symphonies 2 & 5
Symphonies 2 & 5
Price: $18.08
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Composer You Need to Hear, December 2, 2014
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This review is from: Symphonies 2 & 5 (Audio CD)
Erwin Schulhoff was born in 1894 in Prague to a prosperous Czech Jewish family. He was a child prodigy; and when Antonin Dvorak heard him perform on the piano in 1901, he predicted a great musical future for the seven-year-old. Eventually, Schulhoff studied music in Prague, followed by the conservatories in Leipzig and Cologne. Among his teachers were the composers Max Reger and Claude Debussy. He was a talented pianist as well as a revolutionary composer. During the 1930s, Schulhoff faced mounting personal and professional difficulties due to his Jewish descent and his Communist sympathies. His music was labeled degenerate and he was blacklisted by the Nazi party. Eventually, he could no longer give recitals in Germany and his music was no longer performed, finding employment as a radio pianist. Unfortunately, he waited too long before trying to leave Czechoslovakia and although the Soviet Union had approved his petition for citizenship, he was arrested in 1941 and deported to the Wulzburg concentration camp where he died in August 1942.

Schulhoff came to turn away from traditional musical forms, and briefly embraced Dadaism and was very enthusiastic about jazz and ragtime. He was influenced by the atonality of Schoenberg and Alban Berg, and also the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and Hindemith. Schulhoff was especially close to Leos Janacek, and he later wrote an essay about Janacek’s life and work. Despite all of these diverse influences, Schulhoff has a distinctive voice, and he has an excellent advocate in James Conlon.

Schulhoff’s Fifth Symphony was composed during 1938 – 39, the time of the Anschluss and the Munich Agreement that ceded the Sudaten land to Germany. The first movement of the symphony is angry and threatening, anticipating the war to come. It is similar in its relentless agitation as Gustav Holst’s Mars. The second movement (an Adagio) follows up on the mood of the first movement, reflecting it seems on the destruction of war. The opening mournful melody gives way to a more reflective mood, still shrouded in sadness, with frequent outbursts from the brass. The Scherzo third movement (marked Allegro con brio) is restless and agitated, and carries over to the beginning of the finale. The finale is characterized by the menace and violence of the prior movements. There is a brief quiet section that slowly builds in intensity followed by a heroic theme for brass and strings, and the symphony ends in a triumphant mood. The music is an expression of the time when it was written, and Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony came to mind as music reflecting another political reality.

The Suite for Small Orchestra could not be more different from his Fifth Symphony. Jazz was important to Schulhoff’s composition and he worked as a jazz pianist. The suite is in six short movements titled: Ragtime, Valse Boston, Tango, Shimmy, Step and Jazz. The suite is brilliantly conceived and great fun to listen to. The Second Symphony was composed in 1932, and shows some neo-classical influence in the final movement with its borrowing from Beethoven. The first movement has a charming dance-like melody followed by a peaceful Andante for strings and woodwinds; the third movement is a Jazz Scherzo, which including a banjo.

Erwin Schulhoff’s music is coming back with performances and recordings. Mr. Conlon conducted the Fifth Symphony during the summer at the Ravinia festival. The recordings on this disc are magnificent, and I highly recommend it.


New York Philharmonic - Bernstein Live
New York Philharmonic - Bernstein Live
7 used & new from $199.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Tribute to Leonard Bernstein, November 28, 2014
This set is a fantastic tribute to Leonard Bernstein. Aside from the 10 CDs in the set are two books. One is devoted to Mr. Bernstein containing remembrances from several orchestra members and his daughter Jamie, a chronology of important events in Bernstein’s life and a chronological listing of his performances with the New York Philharmonic from 1943 – 89. The book is illustrated with many photographs. The second book contains program notes for each disc with artist profiles, texts of vocal works, illustrated with many photographs.

Disc 1 holds Stravinsky’s Song of the Nightingale, Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture and Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto with Lazar Berman as soloist. The performance of the Stravinsky and Elgar are beautifully performed. The Rachmaninov is well-played by Berman but at 44 minutes the tempi are a little slow in spots, especially in the Finale; an interesting performance but not among my favorites. Disc 2 begins with Virgil Thomson’s The Seine at Night, a magnificent, atmospheric piece from the opera Four Saints in Three Acts. This is followed by a beautifully performed Piano Concerto No. 23 of Mozart with Byron Janis as soloist, who performs with great sensitivity. The Mozart id followed by Six Pieces for Orchestra by Webern and Paul Hindemith’ Mathis der Maler Symphony. The Webern receives a superb reading and the Hindemith is an equally superb performance. This Mathis is equally as intense as his later recording with the Israel Philharmonic (the only difference is the vivid sound of the latter).

Disc 3 begins with a charming performance of Benjamin Britten’s Spring Symphony with Richard Lewis, Jennifer Vyvyan and Regina Sarfaty as soloists. The next work, the Schumann Cello Concerto is a remarkable performance with Jacqueline du Pre from March 3, 1967, only available in this set as far as I am aware. This is a spellbinding performance with Ms. Du Pre playing flawlessly. The final work is Sibelius’ Four Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, sung beautifully by Phyllis Curtin. Disc 4 opens with a spirited performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture. This is followed by a marvelous performance of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3 with a commanding performance by Wilhelm Kempff. The remaining works on the disc is a fine performance of Lukas Foss’ Quintets for Orchestra and a moving account of Aaron Copland’s Dance Symphony.
Disc 5 opens with a superb reading of the Prokofiev Second Piano Concerto with Vladimir Ashkenazy (his debut engagement with the NYP) turning in a magnificent performance. This is one of the most passionate readings of this concerto that I have heard. Next is a fabulous performance of Igor Markevitch’s ballet Icare (the composer was present for this 1958 broadcast). The final work, Arcana by Edgar Varese had not been recorded up to this performance. Disc 6 begins with a beautifully played Second Essay of Samuel Barber, followed by a very fine performance of William Russo’s Symphony No 2. Maynard Ferguson is particularly excellent in the jazz inspired finale. The final selections on the disc are Ruggles’ Men and Mountains and the Second Symphony of Charles Ives. The Ives performance is the world-premiere from February 25, 1951 and the taped broadcast was needed to be located for release on this set.

Disc 7 kicks off with an impish piece by Rodion Shchedrin called Mischevious Folk Ditties, very light and fun. The Capriccio, for piano and orchestra, by Igor Stravinsky receives an energetic performance with Seymour Lipkin as soloist. The performance of this work was to mark the Stravinsky’s 80th birthday. This is followed by the world-premiere performance of Henze’s Fifth Symphony, which was dedicated to Leonard Bernstein and the NYPH. The final selection is a beautifully played Beethoven Triple Concerto with John Corigliano (violin), Laszlo Varga (Cello) and Bernstein at the keyboard. The tempi, especially in the first movement, are unusually brisk and many listeners may not care for the speed of the performance but it is exciting. Disc 8 has an interesting performance of Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto with Isaac Stern playing the violin, John Wummer on flute and Bernstein performing the harpsichord part. The disc next has a gripping performance of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony. Bernstein only conducted the Sixth and Ninth symphonies, and (as the program notes reveal) he fully annotated his copy of the score.

Disc 9 starts off with a Young People’s Concert featuring a performance of Aaron Copland’s Outdoor Overture. There follows a series of avant guard pieces were Mr. Bernstein provides an introduction before each work is performed. This set is a fantastic tribute to Leonard Bernstein. Aside from the 10 CDs in the set are two books. One is devoted to Mr. Bernstein containing remembrances from several orchestra members and his daughter Jamie, a chronology of important events in Bernstein’s life and a chronological listing of his performances with the New York Philharmonic from 1943 – 89. The book is illustrated with many photographs. The second book contains program notes for each disc with artist profiles, texts of vocal works, illustrated with many photographs.

Disc 1 holds Stravinsky’s Song of the Nightingale, Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture and Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto with Lazar Berman as soloist. The performance of the Stravinsky and Elgar are beautifully performed. The Rachmaninov is well-played by Berman but at 44 minutes the tempi are a little slow in spots, especially in the Finale; an interesting performance but not among my favorites. Disc 2 begins with Virgil Thomson’s The Seine at Night, a magnificent, atmospheric piece from the opera Four Saints in Three Acts. This is followed by a beautifully performed Piano Concerto No. 23 of Mozart with Byron Janis as soloist, who performs with great sensitivity. The Mozart id followed by Six Pieces for Orchestra by Webern and Paul Hindemith’ Mathis der Maler Symphony. The Webern receives a superb reading and the Hindemith is an equally superb performance. This Mathis is equally as intense as his later recording with the Israel Philharmonic (the only difference is the vivid sound of the latter).
Disc 3 begins with a charming performance of Benjamin Britten’s Spring Symphony with Richard Lewis, Jennifer Vyvyan and Regina Sarfaty as soloists. The next work, the Schumann Cello Concerto is a remarkable performance with Jacqueline du Pre from March 3, 1967, only available in this set as far as I am aware. This is a spellbinding performance with Ms. Du Pre playing flawlessly. The final work is Sibelius’ Four Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, sung beautifully by Phyllis Curtin. Disc 4 opens with a spirited performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture. This is followed by a marvelous performance of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3 with a commanding performance by Wilhelm Kempff. The remaining works on the disc is a fine performance of Lukas Foss’ Quintets for Orchestra and a moving account of Aaron Copland’s Dance Symphony.

Disc 5 opens with a superb reading of the Prokofiev Second Piano Concerto with Vladimir Ashkenazy (his debut engagement with the NYP) turning in a magnificent performance. This is one of the most passionate readings of this concerto that I have heard. Next is a fabulous performance of Igor Markevitch’s ballet Icare (the composer was present for this 1958 broadcast). The final work, Arcana by Edgar Varese had not been recorded up to this performance. Disc 6 begins with a beautifully played Second Essay of Samuel Barber, followed by a very fine performance of William Russo’s Symphony No 2. Maynard Ferguson is particularly excellent in the jazz inspired finale. The final selections on the disc are Ruggles’ Men and Mountains and the Second Symphony of Charles Ives. The Ives performance is the world-premiere from February 25, 1951 and the taped broadcast was needed to be located for release on this set.

Disc 7 kicks off with an impish piece by Rodion Shchedrin called Mischievous Folk Ditties, very light and fun. The Capriccio, for piano and orchestra, by Igor Stravinsky receives an energetic performance with Seymour Lipkin as soloist. The performance of this work was to mark the Stravinsky’s 80th birthday. This is followed by the world-premiere performance of Henze’s Fifth Symphony, which was dedicated to Leonard Bernstein and the NYPH. The final selection is a beautifully played Beethoven Triple Concerto with John Corigliano (violin), Laszlo Varga (Cello) and Bernstein at the keyboard. The tempi, especially in the first movement, are unusually brisk and many listeners may not care for the speed of the performance but it is exciting. Disc 8 has an interesting performance of Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto with Isaac Stern playing the violin, John Wummer on flute and Bernstein performing the harpsichord part. The disc next has a gripping performance of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony. Bernstein only conducted the Sixth and Ninth symphonies, and (as the program notes reveal) he fully annotated his copy of the score.

Disc 9 starts off with a Young People’s Concert featuring a performance of Aaron Copland’s Outdoor Overture. There follows a series of Avant-Garde pieces were Mr. Bernstein provides an informative and, often entertaining, introduction before each work is performed. Disc 10 contains excerpts from Wagner’s Gotterdammerung with Eileen Farrell and Jess Thomas as Brunnhilde and Siegfried. The soloists complement each other beautifully in the Act I opening duet and final scene; Thomas and Farrell shine in their solos. The orchestral excerpts – Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and the Funeral Music – are exciting and moving.

The sound on the broadcasts is very good; certainly the ear adjusts to the mono sound. There is some coughing (it sounds like a member of the orchestra is coughing in the Dawn and Duet track on disc 10) and sneezing during some of the concerts but there was nothing extreme to prevent me from enjoying the music. There is much to like in this set, especially the Schumann Cello concerto, the Ives Second Symphony, the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto, the Prokofiev Second Piano Concerto and Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony. The Avant-Garde works are also of interest, depending on one’s musical tastes, particularly for Mr. Bernstein’s introductory remarks.


New York Philharmonic - An American Celebration vol. 1
New York Philharmonic - An American Celebration vol. 1

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Historical Broadcasts, November 7, 2014
I agree with the excellent review by Discophage, which nicely provides a track listing of the five discs in this set. This is a magnificent set of New York Philharmonic broadcasts of American music covering the period from 1936 to 1997. Rather than review each disc in volume 1, I will mention works that were highlights of the collection for me.

There are several works conducted in the 1950s and 1960s by Leonard Bernstein that are magnificently performed – Chadwick’s Melpomene Overture, MacDowell’s Indian Suite, excepts from acts III and IV from Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, which was the only time Bernstein conducted the work. One of the more interesting Bernstein performances is a powerful reading of Roy Harris’ Symphony No 3, which is the fastest I have heard at 16:16.

Other performances of interest is a moving account of Copland’s Music for the Theater conducted by Erich Leinsdorf, Charles Martin Loeffler’s Memories of My Childhood from 1936 conducted by John Barbirolli, Artur Rodzinski turning in a spirited performance of Gershwin’s An American in Paris and a passionate reading by Howard Hansen of his Symphony No 2 conducted by the composer at Carnegie Hall, 1946. An interesting surprise was Guido Cantelli conducting Copland’s El salon Mexico from a 1955 broadcast, a superb performance of the First Essay by Samuel Barber with George Szell conducting and a fantastic reading of Paul Creston’s Symphony No 2 conducted by Pierre Monteux from 1956.

The recordings are well produced and remarkably free from coughing and noise from the audience. There is a reasonably good balance between the orchestra sections. The booklet that accompanies the set nicely documents the recordings and provides a timetable of American music, year by year. This is a fabulous collection of NYPO broadcasts that is a complete delight.


Glazunov: Complete Symphonies
Glazunov: Complete Symphonies
Price: $35.77
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Glazunov Cycle, November 4, 2014
I cannot agree with Amazon Customer about the tempi Tadaaki Otaka adopted for his Glazunov cycle. If I compare timings from Jose Serebrier for the Fifth Symphony (11:40, 4:54, 9:24, 6:45), who adopts brisk tempi and Valery Polansky (12:19, 4:56, 9:48, 7:56), who is slower in general in his recordings of the symphonies, to Otaka (12:39, 4:59, 9:52, 7:34) it is clear that this set falls in a medium tempo that is not breaking any speed records. As for the performances, the First Symphony (composed in 1882 when Glazunov was 16 years old) is beautifully played with excellent medium tempi and performed with a feel for the music. The Second Symphony from 1886 shows greater maturity in Glazunov’s handling of the symphonic form but also shows the influence of the “Mighty Handful” in the oriental melodies of the second movement.

Glazunov broke free from the “Mighty Handful” when he composed his Third Symphony (1888 – 90) following the more cosmopolitan example of Tchaikovsky (to whom the Third was dedicated). The melodies and orchestration of this symphony are more complex than his previous symphonies. With the Fourth Symphony (1893), Glazunov achieved his mature style. The opening bars, with a sort of orchestral sigh from the orchestra announced a departure from the earlier symphonies. The symphony is also cast in three movements, the only time the composer altered the form of the symphony. The music is beautifully expressive and noble, and is beautifully captured by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. With this symphony, and the death of his friend Tchaikovsky, Glazunov became the most eminent among Russian composers.

The Fifth Symphony (1895) established Glazunov’s reputation in Europe and America. The wealth of wonderful melodies in the symphony make it very appealing with an energetic tutti opening by the orchestra, a charming Scherzo and w reflective and dramatic Andante topped off by an exuberant and festive Finale. The Sixth Symphony (1896) is a mix of a dramatic first movement with lighter inner movements and a finale of variations. The Seventh Symphony (1901 – 02) has an opening similar to Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony, and has been applied to this symphony. Although the first movement suggests the Russian countryside, the remaining three movements are more urban in character. The Eighth Symphony (1902 – 06) represents a summing up of Glazunov’s skill as a composer. The music of the first movement is somber and dramatic, followed by a reflective and passionate slow movement. The Scherzo is not s lyrical as earlier symphonies and the Finale builds from a somber beginning to a triumphant conclusion.

This cycle of Glazunov symphonies has several interesting fillers: the Mazurka in G major, From Darkness to Light and the Ballade in F major. Overall, this set has excellent performances of the symphonies. I tend to prefer the symphonies by Neeme Jarvi and the Bamberg (I find he is a bit more energetic in the Fifth) but this set is impressive in the quality of the playing and the leadership of Tadaaki Otaka.


Kingdoms of Castille
Kingdoms of Castille
Price: $17.52
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Ravishing Baroque Program, October 27, 2014
This review is from: Kingdoms of Castille (Audio CD)
I saw this disc in a library, El Mundo being a period performance group with which I was unfamiliar. This is a colorful and thought provoking disc beautifully played and sung. This theme of this disc is Spanish music of the 17th and 18th centuries and its influence throughout Europe. The diverse musical pieces come from several European and New World (Lima and Peru) composers. The disc begins, appropriately with an orchestral work by Domenico Scarlatti, who for many years was the composer to Portuguese and Spanish royal families. Perhaps the most interesting work is a short cantata in Spanish by George Frederic Handel, composed in 1708. Handel was living in Naples at the time where Spanish music was all the rage. This is the only work by Handel that was composed for guitar.

I like a program of early music that that blends instrumental and vocal music. The program presented by El Mundo is perfect. The instrumental works are perfectly played with a real feeling for the music. The soloists: Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Nell Snaidas and Paul Shipper are magnificent, providing a freshness and clarity to the music. The recording is well balanced and clear. This is a pleasant disc that makes me want to explore the other recordings of El Mundo.


Szymanowski - Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Szymanowski - Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Price: $9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Performances, October 24, 2014
Karol Szymanowski wrote his music for the violin for his close friend Pawel Kochanski, aiming to create a new mode of expression for the violin. The First Violin Concerto was composed in 1916, and has been described an exotic and even erotic. It is cast in a single movement with three sections. Szymanowski was, at the time, under the influence of Greek mythology and Arabic culture, which accounts for the impressionistic atmosphere of the music. The concerto is structured on short melodies that are woven together without a specific form. There is a short cadenza for the soloist, leading into the passionate finale, but the violin dominates the musical conversation with the orchestra and has the last word.

The Second Violin Concerto came 16 years later in 1932-33. The concerto is in two sections linked by a lengthy cadenza that Kochanski (who also composed it) wanted as he considered the concerto too short. The concerto differs from the sensuality of the earlier concerto in that it is more conventional in its tone, sounding closer to Bartok’s Violin Concerto No 2. At the time he composed his second concerto, Szymanowski was under the influence of Goral folk music. The first movement is a series of variations and the second a rondo. Sadly, Pawel Kochanski performed the concerto for the first (and only) time on October 6, 1933 in Warsaw Philharmonic Hall. In fact, this was the violinist’s last heroic performance as he was suffering from cancer of the liver, and died in New York on January 12, 1934.

The remaining pieces on this disc are for solo violin and piano; beginning with the Three Paganini Caprices (1918). Szymanowski set his own variations from Paganini’s Caprice 21, 22 and 24. The Romance for violin and piano (1910) is a sweetly melodious piece, beautifully written for the violin.

These are superb performances by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Thomas Zehetmair is an ideal soloist; bring forth the exotic and sensual aspects of the music beautifully. The recording is perfectly balanced and clear.


The Mask Of Dimitrios
The Mask Of Dimitrios
DVD ~ Sydney Greenstreet
Price: $14.49
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Crime Drama, October 22, 2014
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This review is from: The Mask Of Dimitrios (DVD)
I can recall the first time I saw The Mask of Dimitrios on Turner Classic Movies. It is a fabulous mystery with superb acting on all sides. I was hoping it would one day be brought out on DVD, and finally it has. This is a wonderful film for Peter Lorre who plays a mystery writer named Cornelius Leyden who is drawn into past crimes and double dealing of Dimitrios Makropoulos. Sydney Greenstreet is equally wonderful as the mysterious and unpredictable Mr. Peters, and Zachary Scott makes a fearsome Dimitrios, whose past history is related, bit by bit, to Leyden by his victims. Faye Emerson is excellent as Irana Preveza, who had the misfortune of falling in love with Dimitrious.

Warner Brothers had many wonderful actors under contract and the casting of the supporting roles, many of whom are familiar from other classic films, in Dimitrios is superb. The film is also beautifully photographed by veteran Cinematographer Arthur Edeson, who also photographed The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.

The transfer of the film to DVD is perfect and the sound is excellent. If you don’t know this film, you should buy it; those of us who do know it already have a copy. .


Morton Gould: Concerto For Orchestra / Interplay
Morton Gould: Concerto For Orchestra / Interplay
Price: $16.79
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Wonderful Classical Jazz of Morton Gould, October 22, 2014
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This is a fabulous collection of some of Morton Gould’s best music. The disc holds two of the American Symphonettes (there are four) with the second of these jazz infused miniature symphonies leading off. The American Symphonette No. 2 (1937-38) begins with a movement that one would expect from a swing band: brash and brassy. The Pavanne middle movement has a delightful dance melody and was Gould’s first hit; and is followed up with a non-stop gallop based on Bach’s third violin partita. The Concerto for Orchestra (1944) is an orchestral showpiece in three movements, beginning with a Blues inspired first movement, followed by a beautiful slow and stately middle movement. The energetic finale frequently switches moods, playing sections of the orchestra against each other.

Interplay or American Concertette No 1 (1943) has long been one of my favorites of Morton Gould. The piece was composed for pianist Jose Iturbi and was turned into a ballet (called Interplay, hence the renaming of the concertette) by Jerome Robbins. The concerto is fresh and jazzy giving classical melodies a modern spin. The American Symphonette No 3 (1938) followed up on the success of No. 2 and is cast in the same jazzy mold, with a bold and brassy first movement, followed by a gavotte modeled on the earlier “Pavanne.” The Chorale and Fugue in Jazz is an early work and, despite the religious connotations of the title, is very much jazz inspired. The music was not performed until 1936 with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, but much of the score was cut. This is first recording of the complete work.

The performances are beautifully played by the Albany Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Alan Miller. The sound is clear with good orchestra separation. If you are already interested in Morton Gould’s music or would like to get acquainted, this is a great disc for you.


Rand McNally Streets of Monterey, Carmel/ Salinas
Rand McNally Streets of Monterey, Carmel/ Salinas
by Rand McNally
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.43
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Map, October 6, 2014
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This is a superb map for driving in the Monterey/Carmel/Salinas area. There is excellent detail of the streets and is printed in a large format, not so small that you can barely read the names. The reverse side is a street finder. This is a very handy map if you will be sending a good deal of time driving the streets of Carmel and Monterey and also going further afield to connect to101 from Monterey, which is something I am planning to do.


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