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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Paul Paray, Detroit Symphony Orchestra ‎– Suppé Overtures

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This week's Tuesday Blog is another installment of Vinyl's Revenge featuring a late-50's recording from the Mercury Living Presence series.

As discussed in an excellent overview published in Classical Notes, Paul Paray was born into a musical family in 1886. Despite the interruptions of both World Wars (he spent most of the first as a prisoner of war and the second with the Resistance) he established a solid reputation as a French conductor, heading orchestras in Lamoureux, Monte Carlo and Paris. American guest stints led to his appointment as permanent conductor of then recently reorganized Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1952 to 1963).

Their very first records prove that he quickly forged the ensemble into a truly great orchestra and transformed its sound into a replica of those he had known in France. (Paray ultimately parted ways with the DSO in 1963 but remained active well into his nineties; conductors do tend to last a very long time!)

Naturally, Paray brought an appropriate Gallic touch to the great French repertoire. His Debussy, Ravel, Chabrier and Roussel are magnificent, beautifully capturing their elegance with a self-effacing confidence. Equally fascinating is Paray’s touch applied to music of other national schools: Rachmaninov, Sibelius and even Wagner, the epitome of German music and about as far from the French aesthetic as possible. Today's disc - an all-Suppé record - showcases are quintessentially Viennese and speak the same language as Johann Strauss – rhythmically vital, vivacious, infectious.

Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony play instantly accessible music without a shred of pretense. Like Toscanini, Paray appeared to take special pride in according light classical fluff the attention and respect usually reserved for more substantial challenging music with polished and convincing readings.

Happy listening!

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
  • Die schöne Galathe (The Beautiful Galathea, 1865)
  • Pique Dame (1862)
  • Leichte Kavallerie (Light Cavalry, 1866)
  • Dichter und Bauer (Poet and Peasant, ca. 1846)
  • Morning, Noon And Night In Vienna (1844)
  • Boccaccio (1879)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Paul Paray, conducting

Mercury ‎– SRI 75091
Format: Vinyl, LP, Reissue, Stereo
(Studio, 11/1959)

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