Dancing With the One That Brought You

In 1971, the Ormandy recording of the Beethoven Ninth opened my eyes to the power and beauty of classical music. When CDs came out, I acquired two Karajan recordings, the 1983 and subsequently the 1977. Now there’s no question that Karajan is the better Beethoven interpreter, but I also cooled on the Ninth as a piece of music. Strangely enough, when I reacquired the Ormandy on CD (the recording, as far as I know, has never been out of print), I fell in love with it once again.

I’ve found that this phenomenon occurring time and again. There may be better recordings available, but somehow the first one heard remains the favorite. There’s no explanation or, sometimes, no excuse.

Through regular re-issues, sometimes from downloads, sometimes through painstaking searches around the globe, there are a good number of “first-heard” recordings that I’ve been particularly delighted to find, mostly because I thought they would never again see the light of day or would have to be acquired only as a very small part of a gigantic set:

Auber: Overture to “Marco Spada” (Bonynge – New Philharmonia)

Bach: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra)

Bruckner: 2nd Symphony (Stein – Vienna Philharmonic)

Bruckner: 8th Symphony (Solti – Vienna Philharmonic)

Bruckner: 9th Symphony (Schuricht – Vienna Philharmonic)

Goldmark: Overture, “In Spring” (Fiedler – Boston Pops)

Grison: Toccata in F (Jane Parker-Smith)

Handel: Overture to “Radamisto” (Bonynge – English Chamber Orchestra)

Haydn: Symphony No. 100 (Scherchen – Vienna State Opera Orchestra)

Liszt: Grand Galop Chromatique (György Cziffra)

Mahler: 2nd Symphony (Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra)

Penderecki: Utrenja (Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra)

Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky (Schippers – New York Philharmonic)

Rodgers: Guadalcanal March (Boult – London Philharmonic)

Schubert: 4th and 6th Symphonies (Maazel – Berlin Philharmonic)

Schumann: Suleika’s Song (Edith Mathis)

Sibelius: Spring Song (Groves – Royal Liverpool Philharmonic)

Tchaikovsky: 4th Symphony (Barenboim – New York Philharmonic)

Vaughan Williams: 4th Symphony (Bernstein – New York Philharmonic)

Wagner: Tannhäuser (Konwitschny – Berlin State Opera Orchestra)

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