JEAN MARTINON - CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA RECORDINGS
Jean Martinon (1910 - 1972) was a distinguished, elegant conductor. He studied with Charles Munch, and became Conductor of the Paris Conservatory Orchestra with which he made some Decca recordings. He was appointed Music Director of the Chicago Symphony in 1963, but left three years, particularly because he was not favored by vitriolic Chicago Tribune music critic Claudia Cassidy, who consistently gave scathing reviews. Here's a brief recap of the Chicago orchestra's relationship with conductors. Désire Defauw had taken over the CSO with the departure of Frederick Stock; he, too, was diminished by verbal attacks from "Acidy Cassidy." Arturt Rodzinski was appointed conductor in 1947, but orchestral politics made it necessary for him to resign after only one year much to the despair of Cassidy. His successor was Rafael Kubelik for three years beginning in 1953, but he, too, had to deal, unsuccessfully with Ms. Cassidy's venom. It was during that period that the Chicago Orchestra made those historic Mercury recordings just before the age of stereo, still landmarks in the history of recording. It was onto this troubled scene that Martinon stepped, and again he was the subject of the ill-tempered music critic's attacks. Well, she was wrong. Martinon and the CSO had a great relationship reflected in the many superb stereo recordings they made in a wide range of repertory.. You won't find Beethoven and Brahms, but you will find contemporary music including some rarities. The French works are particularly effective, and RCA's engineers had perfected their recordings made in Orchestra Hall. It is particularly intriguing to hear the Roussel Suite, as Martinon had studied composition with him many years before. All of these recordings have been remastered and sound better than ever. Don't miss this fabulous set, particularly at its modest price! And if you admire Martinon, many of his later recordings for EMI and other labels are available. Incidentally, I don't mean to bore readers, but perhaps some might be interested. Originally from Chicago, I was fortunate to attend a number of concerts by the CSO. I attended a concert in 1952 when Kuebelik conducted the Sibelius Violin Concerto (Ida Haendel) and Mahler Symphony 1. There was a performance of Beethoven Concerto No. 3 with Artur Rubinstein and Defauw, and a performance of the Khachaturian Concerto with Rubinstein/Defauw - I don't know of his playing this work elsewhere, and a particularly exciting night was in April 1948, one of the final Rodzinski concerts that featured Horowitz in Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3. Great memories!
R.E.B. (October 2016)