Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Kostelanetz-athon! 1934-1952, with bonus Holst and Honegger sides
Well, "Kostelanetz-athon" is less awkward than "Kosty-athon," at least. I think. It's just a blog post, so no biggie... Anyway, Buster mentioned looking forward to hearing the 1938 Kostelanetz sides in my previous post, and I thought, "Hey, early Kosty!" Those were my brain's exact words. These are all Kostys I featured in a 2017 post, but I was new to VinylStudio at the time--in fact, I may even have been manually manipulating the response curve at that point (prior to realizing there was no need to do it that way)--so it's time for new rips, now that I'm way better at matching response curve to 78. Plus, the 2017 link expired way back.
Things start in 1934 with the two-part Revenge with Music, followed by 1935's Chant of the Weed and Rumba Fantasy. Then on to the Brunswick Turkey in the Straw and Bugle Call Rag. These 1934-1938 sides are fabulous recordings which, like the 78 I featured last post, will not remind you of the classic Kosty sound. That's because the classic Kosty sound had yet to evolve. At some point, someone (maybe Andre himself) said, "I've got it --Let's place the mic a room's length away from the orchestra," and the standard EZ sound was born. Now, about Chant of the Weed--everyone in the world except me thinks it's about marijuana, because, following Woodstock, the word "weed" is only allowed to mean reefer. It's some kind of unwritten rule. Those troublesome things in your yard, crowding out the "good" plants? No name for those. They're simply things. To get rid of them, you can buy a spray bottle of Thing Killer from Lowes. Anyway, I regard Chant as a return-to-Africa song. There was a literary movement around that idea--African-Americans returning to their true land. It wasn't D.W. Griffith's idea--it was a notion born in black culture. It seems odd today, but lots of outdated things and ideas seem odd today. I hear nothing in the lyrics which suggests Mary Jane--the words are all about coming home. Specially, being called home--by the weeds. Think jungle. Not every song of old is filled with double meanings. Some lyrics simply mean what they mean. The weird-sounding chords in Chant are simply whole-tone constructions descending in half-steps. A staple of horror movies. They do sound incredibly neat as presented by AK's superb vocal chorus.
I used the dynamic filter on MAGIX for, I think, the first time, and mainly to bring out the very quiet portions of Weed, since the volume on the vocals really dips. The results were acceptable, so I kept them. I also used this filter for Arthur Honegger's Pacific 231, a playlist bonus from 1927 in which I could swear some limiting was being used. Which is to say, engineers of that day appear to have had some kind of primitive, basic audio limiting. Specifically, the volume is cut back in loud sections (subtle, but listen for it), and in such a way that suggests multiple microphones. I think audio technology was more advanced, even in 1927, then we might imagine today.
And we have nine V Disc Kosty sides covering the years 1944 to 1947, and the wafer-thin V Discs are highly prone to warping, which means I had to cut out some thumps and do some selective de-rumbling. You haven't lived until you've done selective de-rumbling. My favorite of the V Discs is the Cyril Scott Lotus Land, which I would call the starting point of so-called Exotica, if it weren't for Debussy, Satie, and others beating Scott to the game by a couple decades. Oh, well. The Kosty version is perfect, just beautiful and in no hurry to reach the run-off groove--even the very audible studio noises (Coughing? Page shuffling?) fail to mess up the mood of mysterioso, and I just coined a phrase--no "mood of mysterioso" in my Google search. The Kosty composition Impressions of Basie (1944) is the usual Classical-musician-doing-orchestrated-blues-and-passing-it-off-as-jazz routine, but it's fun enough for what it is. Problem is, such compositions were a dime a dozen.
I mentioned the one bonus side--the other is Gustav Holst conducting his own Marching Song and Mercury from The Planets, all in wonderful 1926 fidelity. Like a lot of composers, when conducting his own stuff, Holst goes by the clock--precisely as written, no tampering with tempo. I think I've heard one entire Planets version that didn't make me wince at every tempo and dynamic decision--worst is those egoist conductors who do the initial Mars crescendo at 15X forte, apparently for listeners deafened by Star Wars soundtracks. Yeah, we get it--it's a crescendo. If there's any life on Mars, it heard it, too. But I'm way off topic here.
On YouTube, some arranger purports to have improved on Holst's scoring of Marching Song, and if there's one thing Holst needs help with, it's scoring. (Long sigh.)
Oh, and I included the "raw" file of Marching Song as the last track. It's what it sounded like before I did anything to it.
To the Kosty (and friends)....
DOWNLOAD: Early Kosty, and more!
Revenge with Music (Dietz-Schwartz)--Andre Kostelanetz Presents (Victor 36142; 1934)
Chant of the Weed (Donald Redman)--Andre Kostelanetz Presents (Victor 36161; 1935)
Turkey in the Straw--Andre Kostelanetz Conducts (Brunswick 8214; 1938)
Bugle Call Rag (Pettis-Meyers-Schoebel)--Same
Impressions of Basie (Kostelanetz)--Andre Kostelanetz and His Orch. (V Disc 147; 1944)
Malaguena (Lecuona)--Same (V Disc 147; 1944)
Warsaw Concerto (Addinsell)--Same (V Disc 549; 1945)
Fire Dance (De Falla)--Same (V Disc 639; 1946)
Lotus Land (Cyril Scott)--Same (V Disc 639, 1946)
St. Louis Blues (Handy)--Same (V Disc 609; 1946)
Medley from Snow White and Pinocchio--Same (V Disc 609; 1946)
Flamingo (Anderson-Grouya)--Same (V Disc 565; 1946)
Dancing in the Dark--You Are Too Beautiful--Same (V Disc 808; 1947)
Time on My Hands (Adamson-Gordon-Youmans)--Same (Entre 104-E; 1952)
Playing Around (Spielerei) (Stix-Ormandy)--Same
Marching Song (Holst)--Gustav Holst c. the London Symphony Orch. (Columbia L 1543; 1926)
Mercury (The Winged Messenger; from The Planets)--Same
Pacific 231 (Honegger)--Continental Symphony Orch., under the dir. of Piero Coppola (Victor Red Seal 9276; 1927)
Marching Song (Holst)--Raw file