Robert Casadesus was a serious composer as well as a pianist, and several of his works were recorded-by his pianist wife Gaby and others-during his lifetime, but it would appear that his one composition most likely to survive is the beautiful cadenza he wrote for the popular Mozart Concerto in C major, K.467, which Emil Gilels and other pianists continue to perform.
Casadesus was an elegant Mozart player, and we are fortunate to have the splendid series of Mozart concertos he recorded with George Szell in Cleveland. There was, however, one concerted work that I felt Casadesus simply owned: It was not Mozart, Beethoven or anything from his vast French repertoire, but the marvelous Konzertstruck of Carl Maria von Weber, which few pianists seem to bother with nowadays, and which none has played with the charm, dash and conviction Casadesus brought to it.
It happens that Casadesus made the very first recording of the Konzertstuck, back in the mid-'30s, with conductor Eugene Bigot in Paris, for Columbia. In the early '50s it was with that work and the Liszt Second Concerto that he began his phonographic association with Szell, on Columbia ML4588. Both of those performances, as one would expect from such aristocratic collaborators, were tasteful as well as brilliant, but what one can never "expect" is the sheer poetry that came out of those grooves.
It was distressing when these performances (which, perhaps significantly, Casadesus never attempted to remake in stereo) went the way of all mono, and its is a lovely surprise to have them restored now on Odyssey Y35216. Even if you have the Liszt concertos nine times over-even if you have a stereo version of the Konzertstuck -this record is too special to think of doing without. I would suggest buying several copies, to have them on hand for gifts to people you really want to remember you.
In the same release, Odyssey has brought back the record of Richard Rodgers' music made by the New York Philharmonic under the composer's direction in 1954 (Y 35213). It contains the famous "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" ballet music from On Your Toes, the March of the Siamese Children from "The King and I," some tunes from the television score "Victory at Sea," a little suite of waltzes ("Lover," "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," "Falling in love with love") and the marvelous "Carousel Waltz" (the full-dress overture to that musical).
The sound of this recording was none to good to begin with, and seems a bit duller now. Since, for all the "authenticity" involved, Rodgers is not an outstanding conductor and this is not the sort of historic performance for whose sake one makes aural allowances, I would consider some alternatives. Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops have made a knockout recording of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (RCA LSC-2747 and other packages) and more recently Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops have given us opulent accounts of both that number and the "Carousel Waltz" (Turnabout TV-34714, with Jerome Kern's delightful Mark Twain and other Americana). As for the "Victoy at Sea" sequence, its big number if the "Guadalcanal March," and that has been done to a turn by Sir Adrian Boult and the London Philharmonic in a spectacular march collection which happens to be available on two different labels: choose Odyssey 32 16 0318 or Quintessence PMC 7068, and you have one of the finest demonstrations ever of just how marches-and this one of Rodgers's in particular-ought to be played.
The very first recording of the "Carousel Waltz" was made just after World War II by Fritz Reiner and the Pittsburgh Symphony. I had hoped Reiner might be persuaded to re-do it in Chicago, or that Columbia would some day reissue that Pittsburgh version. That one really was a historic performance and deserves permanency. In the meantime, another most attractive record of waltzes, all of them by Waldteufel, has been made by Willi Boskovsky, this time as conductor of the same London Philharmonic that did the marches for Boult. On Angel S-37547 we have the familiar "Pomona, Mon Reve" and "Pluie de diamants" and the lesser-known "Les Sirenes" and "The Grenadiers"-charmers all, and the performances are stylish, seductive, simply gorgeous. CAPTION: Illustration, no caption