sexta-feira, 7 de agosto de 2009

Percy Faith and Mitch Miller - Music Until Midnight

  1. Nocturne 
  2. Duet
  3. Ellen
  4. Elaine (Gitane)
  5. Rosa
  6. The River
  7. Music Until Midnight
  8. A Waltz For Cynthia
  9. Piece For English Horn
  10. Lina
  11. Edelma
  12. Contrasts
Music Until Midnight
Insofar as the New York City operations of Columbia Records are concerned, Mitch Miller and Percy Faith head up the popular record department. This is a particularly happy state of affairs, rather like having Sir Thomas Beecham, say, and Dimitri Mitropoulos in charge of Masterworks records. The situation leads to the conception of some of the most imaginative records on the popular market, and incidentally provides a good deal of lively action in and around the Columbia offices. Both are conductors, Percy is an arranger and composer of imposing attainments, and Mitch is one of the foremost oboists and English horn players in the world. It was therefore more or less inevitable that their talents should be merged in one program, but the idea has been ripening for some time before coming to the fruitful conclusion contained herein.

Suitable music for the temperamental reeds that Mitch has mastered is not easily uncovered, and for various business reasons the two were not often in either the offices or the recording studios at the same time. Consequently, whenever a proper selection was found, it was recorded and shelved, with an eye toward future release. When enough selections were on hand, the pieces in this collection were chosen and assembled in the program listed above. Among the compositions are three originals by Percy - 'Duet', 'Contrasts' and 'Music Until Midnight' - and two by Alec Wilder - 'Ellen' and 'Piece For English Horn'.

The oboe and the English horn are not easy instruments to play. Their peculiar construction, which provides the sweet, plaintive tone that can be so provocative, also provides a constant headache for the soloist, and few indeed are they who can survive the assorted squarks that precede mastery of the instruments. Mitch is one of the hardiest survivors, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music who began his grapples with the instruments because they represented virtually the only unfilled chairs in the orchestra. After graduation, he moved to New York and became one of the house musicians at the Columbia Broadcasting System, playing in combinations of all sizes and musical content, including the Andre Kostelanetz orchestra, and so impressed the maestro that he can be heard today in every Kostelanetz recording. At the same time, Mitch played with chamber groups and in most of the existing oboe concerti with various orchestra.

This led, by some devious route, to the making of children's records, which were so succesful that he was offered a position arranging and conducting popular records. The quality and frequency of the hits he produced led to an offer from Columbia Records, where his fantastic series of further hits, and corollary success in developing the careers of an out-standing group of young singers, won him the title of 'wonder man' and the flattery of imitation of his most arresting innovations. But taking care of the problems of an artists and repertoire department left little time for recording of his own, and his appearances as soloist have been infrequent until now.

As dextrous as Mitch is in the intonations and shadings of his truculent instruments, he is fully partnered throughout by Percy Faith, in charge of that larger instrument, the orchestra. As an arranger, he has prepared this program for two voices: the soloist and the orchestra, in much the same way he prepares the accompaniments for singers. A vocalist working against a Faith background finds the group supporting him and providing a remarkable series of tonal colors, instead of merely setting up a beat and filling in the breaks and bridges. Even more striking than his accompaniments are the Faith arrangements for orchestra alone; his brilliant group of albums, embracing a variety of musical styles, are almost aural textbooks in the use of a symphonic-type orchestra for popular music.

Born in Canada, Percy Faith swiftly rose to eminence with the Canadian Broadcasting System, and came to the United States to take over the musical direction of the Carnation Hour, until its demise a year or so ago one of the oldest continually broadcasting programs on the air. Comparatively unknown here on his arrival, he sson became famous for his arranging and conducting, and for the high quality of his records. When he joined Columbia, he found in the company's famous Thirtieth Street studio an ideal hall for reproducing the velvet sound and rich, warm colors of his arrangements, and since that time has provided most of the nation's top instrumental hits.

In this program, Percy and Mitch are heard in a variety os selections designed to display the unique voices of the oboe and English horn against a full, sumptuous background. 'Nocturne', from "Two American Sketches", is, as the title indicates, a night-piece, with the urban overtones of dark and loneliness that stem from the metropolitan, or Gershwin, school. Percy's 'Duet' is a charming waltz, displaying the clear dainty tones Mitch can produce, while 'Ellen', a composition constructed along classical lines, has a soft, pastoral quality. The film "Violettes Imperiales" provides 'Elaine', a Continental melody with a quiet tango base. A characteristically colorful Faith setting is heard in 'Rosa', a Latin melody, and 'The River', from the score of an Italian film, builds relentlessly to its climax in a stirring realization of wild, haunting landscapes.

The title song, 'Music Until Midnight', is subtitled "Lullaby for Adults Only", and the acute listener will hear only eleven chimes in the introduction; this is to indicate the hour at which the music is presumed to begin. 'A Waltz for Cynthia', is a plaintive dream waltz. In the film, it accompanies the reverie of a secretary longing for high romance. Wilder's 'Piece for English Horn' exploits the lyric qualities of the instrument in a lovely, rambling study, while 'Lina', in a complete change of mood, finds Mitch piping away to a bouncing Latin rhythm. The unique rhythm of 'Edelma', written in alternating three-four and two-four time, makes an arresting exercise for both soloist and orchestra, and 'Contrasts', which closes the program, returns to the reflective mood of the beginning in a quietly effective mood-piece.

(From the original liner notes)

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