The Fifth Element #9 Page 2
For Beethoven's Violin Concerto, my believe-it-or-not Desert Island choice is Josef Suk. David Oistrakh's luminous Brahms Violin Concerto with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra may have made it to CD by the time of my marooning; if not, Oistrakh's earlier stereo recording with Otto Klemperer will have to do, with the Yehudi Menuhin/Wilhelm Furtwängler mono Lucerne effort packed along for Menuhin's divine frenzy in the Kreisler cadenza. Pinchas Zukerman's earlier Elgar concerto, with Daniel Barenboim, strikes the perfect balance of emotional intensity in feeling but reserve in expression, and is plainly superior to his remake. Ruggiero Ricci's Glazunov concerto is a time-warp high-calorie virtuoso treat, while Michael Rabin's Wieniawski Concerto 2 is by turns poignant and thrilling.
Classical elegance is epitomized by Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, ably served by Iona Brown and Josef Suk. Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli's Hits from the 1930s, featuring "Jalousie," defines swinging nonchalance. And until I get around to recording Arturo Delmoni's interpretation, Jascha Heifetz' "Vitali" Chaconne (the version with organ) will serve as a reminder of what the best violin playing can be.
Singer-songwriter Michael Franks' jazz-tinged Sleeping Gypsy would have me pondering the hopes and foibles of erotic love as, otherwise, only Ella Fitzgerald can; the spacier and less soigné Jesse Colin Young's Light Shine lends a tranquil perspective. Jackson Browne's nearly perfect self-titled first album (usually known by its cover legend, "Saturate Before Using") and Dan Fogelberg's Home Free both combine intelligent lyrics with rewardingly acoustical production values.
A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, Harry Nilsson's lamentably underappreciated set of Great American Songbook standards such as "Makin' Whoopee" and "As Time Goes By," with orchestra conducted by Gordon Jenkins, is a musical celebration of uncommon refinement. Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind and Endless Wire overcome their occasional moments of whininess and blaming and remain fresh and involving. James Taylor's Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon is, in comparison, a much more sophisticated affair, with the added attraction of his duet with Joni Mitchell. Her Court and Spark, Boz Scaggs' Silk Degrees, Roxy Music's Avalon, and Wham's Make It Big are just the things to listen to while driving a convertible toward the setting sun, so I'm sure they'll cast the same spell if one is sitting on a beach with a boom box.
Anticipating having a lot of time on my hands, I should have a complete Beethoven string quartet series or three (the Emerson, Quartetto Italiano, and Guarneri sets will do for starters). Ravel's and Debussy's quartets are evergreens—in addition to the earlier Juilliard Quartet effort, I would want to study during my leisure those of the Quartetto Italiano and Quartetto Nuovo.
Brahms' late piano pieces, in particular Op.118 No.2, embody for me consolation and acceptance as no other music can. Ivan Moravec owns those pieces, but I'd hedge my bets with Brahms' Piano Quintet with Artur Rubinstein and the Guarneri Quartet, and his Violin Sonata 1 with Arturo Delmoni and Yuri Funahashi.
If it were to be a long stay, I'd want John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers' Christmas Night, and my own Rejoice! A String Quartet Christmas, Volume Two. Oh...if I really were going to be alone, I'd want some recordings of my wife reading to my children, and of my children reading aloud.
Before recommending Leo Beranek's Concert and Opera Halls: How They Sound in the May 2001 issue, I confirmed that it was available. However, the few remaining copies quickly sold out. Do not lose heart: an updated edition is in the works. The publisher is the Acoustical Society of America, whose website, lists quite a few volumes of interest.