August 2, 2009


(Leo Blech - cornerstone of the 78 era)

As the 78 era progressed from the acoustic method of recording to the electrical method, the field of classical music was exploding along with the market. Home libraries were filling up with new and interesting recordings, most available for the first time.

We take all of that for granted today. In fact, that's one of the big problems with the current state of classical music - how many new versions of a Brahms or Beethoven Symphony do we need? In the 1920's there were very few to choose from - but even then, it seemed every orchestra and conductor had to do at least one.

One of the early stars in the field of classical recordings was Leo Blech. He recorded almost exclusively for Polydor (Deutsche Grammophon) almost since its inception and conducted many works recorded for the first time - and in many cases offering the definitive performance of a work.

He was also that somewhat awkward breed of musician known as the "grunter", who would bellow when the orchestra reached a crescendo or hum along during the soft parts. Sometimes the microphone was good at concealing his verbal calisthenics and other times they just gave up and let him howl.

Fortunately for everyone, this isn't one of those recordings. The Brahms Serenade opus 11 - the Scherzo and Minuet movements; the only two that were recorded, or at least released, with Leo Blech conducting the London Symphony Orchestra for His Masters Voice in 1931.

A little something to unwind to.

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