TAFFANEL: Quintet for Winds / New York Woodwind Quintet / available for free streaming at Internet Archive
Paul Taffanel was the late 19th century’s greatest flute virtuoso who left us a few rare recordings from the early 20th century. He also wrote this one great piece. I still maintain that this recording of it by the New York Woodwind Quintet is the best ever made.
TAILLEFERRE: Ballade for Piano & Orchestra / Florian Uhlig, pianist; Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken; Pablo Gonzalez, conductor / part of SWR Music 19027, also available for free streaming on YouTube
TAILLEFERRE: 6 Chansons Françaises / Jane Bathori, mezzo-soprano; Germaine Tailleferre, pianist / available for free streaming at Internet Archive
Germaine Tailleferre, the only female member of Les Six, was a fairly good composer. These are, for me, her two finest pieces.
TANEYEV: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 6 / The California String Quartet / Centaur CRC 3589, also available for free streaming in small bits on YouTube
An outstanding recording of two unjustly neglected works by an unjustly neglected composer.
TANSMAN: Bric a Brac – Ballet en 3 Tableaux. Sextuor: Ballet-Bouffe / Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Wojciech Michniewski, conductor / CPO 777987-2
TANSMAN: Novelettes: Blues / Walter Gieseking, pianist / available for free streaming on YouTube
TANSMAN: Piano Sonata No. 2, “Transatlantique”: I. Fox-trot, Allegro; II. Spiritual & Blues; III. Charleston: Molto vivo / Daniel Blumenthal, pianist / Part of Etcetera 2021 or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on movement titles above
Russian-born Alexandre Tansman moved to Paris in the 1920s and became one of the more popular of “French” composers of the 1920s through the ‘40s. His entertaining music is very jazz-based in places, particularly in the Blues from Novelettes (played with surprisingly good slow-drag phrasing by Gieseking) and the Piano Sonatina No. 2.
TARKIAINEN: Baudelaire Songs. Into the Woodland Silence */ Tuuli Lindeberg, soprano; Emil Holstrom, pianist; *Lauri Sallinen, clarinetist; *Markus Hohti, cellist / …Ja Alkoivat Laulaa (…And They Began to Sing) / Veli Kojala, accordionist / Sans Paroles / Lauri Sallinen, clarinetist / Thy Words, Submerged in Stone / Markus Hohti, cellist / Trois Poemes / Kamus String Quartet / Until the Stone Splits / Maria Puusaari, violinist / Alba 415 or available for free streaming in small bits on YouTube
In my humble opinion, Outi Tarkiainen is a great musical genius. I find her music far more substantial and better constructed than that of the vastly overrated Kaja Saariaho, and these works are superb examples of her discursive musical mind.
Tchaikovsky, Piotr Ilich
TCHAIKOVSKY: Can It Be Day? Not a Word, My Friend / Rosalind Plowright, mezzo-soprano; Philip Mountford, pianist / Disenchantment. The Nightingale / Feodor Chaliapin, bass; unidentified pianist / Pilgrim’s Song / Feodor Chaliapin, bass; Alexander Schmidt, violinist; Orch., Rosario Bourdon, conductor / Don Juan’s Serenade / Nicolai Gedda, tenor; Erik Werba, pianist / None But a Lonely Heart / Rosa Ponselle, mezzo-soprano; Igor Chicagov, pianist / Pourquoi? / Enrico Caruso, tenor; Victor Orch.; Josef Pasternack, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on titles above
TCHAIKOVSKY: 6 French Songs, Op. 65: I. Où va-tu, soufflé d’aurore; II. Déception; III. J’aime dans le rayon; IV. Qu’importe que l’hiver; V. Les larmes; VI. Rondel / Irina Arkhipova, mezzo-soprano; Igor Guselnikov, pianist / available for free streaming on YouTube
Tchaikovsky didn’t write nearly as many songs as his predecessor, Mussorgsky, but we tend to think he wrote more because some of the ones he did write are so famous. The recordings above are my absolute favorites, and if one is surprised to see the non-Slavic names of Caruso, Ponselle and Plowright among my favorite singers, I don’t really much care. They gave their all in these songs and projected the words and the feelings of the music better than most others.
TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture / Cleveland Orchestra; Artur Rodziński, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Claudio Abbado, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
Two great recordings of this warhorse made about a half-century apart. Despite the dated sound, however, Rodziński’s 1940 recording actually has better textural clarity than Abbado’s.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin / Renée Fleming, soprano (Tatiana); Elena Zaremba, mezzo-soprano (Olga); Svetlana Volkova, mezzo (Mme. Larina); Ramón Vargas, tenor (Lemsky); Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone (Eugene Onegin); Keith Miller, bass (Captain); Sergei Aleksashkin, bass (Prince Gremin); Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra; Valery Gergiev, conductor / Decca 0743248, DVD
A rare DVD opera recommendation from me. There are a few quirky things in this production, but not so many that they offend or confuse the viewer, and the vocal-musico-dramatic performance is beyond reproach. Renée Fleming is, curiously, often bland in standard operatic repertoire, but in Handel, Russian opera and some French roles she is stupendous. I wasn’t as huge a fan of Hvorstovsky as other critics were, but in this specific role (and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra on CD) he really did give 110%. In addition, this was conducted by Valery Gergiev back when he really was Valery Gergiev.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Fantasy Overture from “The Tempest.” Fantasy Overture, “Romeo and Juliet.” Voyevoda Overture / NBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Toscanini, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on titles above
Toscanini didn’t conduct as much Tchaikovsky as one might like, but these are among his greatest performances.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasy. Hamlet: Fantasy Overture / State Academic Symphony Orchestra; Yevgeny Svetlanov, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on titles above
Svetlanov was even more fiery in Tchaikovsky than Toscanini—a real fire-eater—and these performances are among his finest.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Manfred Symphony / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Vasily Petrenko, conductor / Naxos 8.570568, also available for free streaming in individual movements on YouTube
No question about it, this is the greatest Manfred I’ve ever heard.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Marche Slav / London Symphony Orchestra; Leopold Stokowski, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
This piece might almost have been written for Stokowski.
TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker / National Philharmonic Orchestra; Richard Bonynge, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
I’ve heard a ton of complete Nutcracker recordings, including Ansermet, Rodziński, Robert Irving and a bunch of modern Russian conductors, but this one is absolutely the best, combining exciting, well-inflected phrasing in every piece with perfectly danceable tempi.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 / Vladimir Horowitz, pianist; NBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Toscanini, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
I generally dislike Vladimir Horowitz in just about everything, and I really hated this combination’s studio recording of this concerto for RCA Victor, but this 1943 live performance is perfection in every sense (except, of course, for the less-than-ideal sonics).
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 2: I. Allegro brillante; II. Andante non troppo; III. Allegro con fuoco / Shura Cherkassky, pianist; RIAS Sinfonie-Orchester; Ferenc Fricsay, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on movement titles above
Shura Cherkassky was the world’s leading champion of this oft-ignored concerto, and recorded it several times. This is my favorite of his several versions.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Pique Dame (Queen of Spades) / Vladimir Atlantov, tenor (Hermann); Julia Varady, soprano (Lisa); Elena Obraztsouva, mezzo (Countess); Bodo Brinkmann, baritone (Prince Yeletsky); Ludmilla Semtschuk, mezzo (Pauline); Karl Helm, bass (Surin); Alexander Voroschilo, baritone (Count Tomsky); Yoshihisa Yamaji, baritone (Chekalinsky); Friedrich Lenz, tenor (Major-Domo); Gudrun Wewezow, mezzo (Governess); Carmen Anhorn, soprano (Masha); Bavarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra; Algis Shuraitis, conductor / Ponto PO-1049
TCHAIKOVSKY: Pique Dame (Queen of Spades) / Vitaly Tarashchenko, tenor (Hermann); Natalia Datsko, soprano (Lisa); Irina Arkhipova, mezzo-soprano (Countess); Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone (Prince Yeletsky); Nina Romanova, mezzo-soprano (Pauline); Grigory Gritsyuk, baritone (Count Tomsky); Alexander Vedernikov, bass (Surin); Oleg Klenov, baritone (Chekalinsky); Vladimir Grishko, tenor (Major-Domo); Tatiana Kuzminova, mezzo-soprano (Governess); Lidia Chernykh, soprano (Masha); Yurlov Republican Academic Choral Capella; USSR Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Fedoseyev, cond / Melodiya MELCD1002549
Two great live performances of Tchaikovsky’s operatic masterpiece, and both get six fish but for different reasons. The 1984 Bavarian Opera version is conducted at white heat by the little-known Algis Shuraitis and the principals, particularly Varady, Atlantov and Obraztsouva, are on fire, but it’s a little rushed and some of the supporting roles are just sung OK. The 1989 Fedoseyev performance, though slower, has its own internal drama and each and every singer in the cast is in fantastic voice, thus giving you better musical values.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Serenade for Strings, Op. 48: I. Pezzo in forma di sonatina; II. Walzer: Moderato; III. Elegie: Larghetto elegaico; IV. Finale (Tema Russo) / Moscow Soloists; Yuri Bashmet, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking movement titles above
Not one of Tchaikovsky’s flashier compositions, but one of his best-constructed pieces, and this is my favorite recording of it.
TCHAIKOVSKY: String Quartet No. 2: I. Adagio; Moderato assai; II. Scherzo: Allegro giusto; III. Andante ma non tanto; IV. Finale: Allegro con moto / Budapest String Quartet / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking title names above
Despite the dated 1929 sound, this performance by the early Budapest String Quartet (back when they still had Hungarians in it!) has more feeling in it than any other I’ve ever heard.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake (Complete Ballet) / Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, Milan; James Tuggle, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
Forget the visual aspect of this video: it’s a fairly mediocre performance. The musical treatment of the score is absolutely fantastic!
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1, “Winter Dreams”: I. Allegro tranquillo; II-IV Movements / Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Fabien Sevitzky, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on links above
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 / London Philharmonic Orchestra; Vladimir Jurowski, conductor / LPO 0109 or available for free streaming in small bits on YouTube
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 / State Academic Symphony Orchestra; Evgeny Svetlanov, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5: I. Andante – Allegro con anima; II. Andante cantábile; III. Valse: Allegro moderato; IV. Finale: Andante maestoso – Allegro vivace / New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra; Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking movement titles above
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 / NBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Toscanini, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
You could, if you wish, shortcut this list and just buy the six numbered symphonies recorded by Igor Markevitch: they’re quite good and, as a series, very uniform in quality. But I actually prefer the list above, despite the fact that numbers 1, 5 and 6 are in mono sound, because the performances are more varied in approach and, in general, more intense than Markevitch’s. Perhaps the most surprising name on the list is that of Fabien Sevitzky, Serge Koussevitzky’s very talented nephew. He did not produce as silken a sound with the Indianapolis Symphony as his uncle did with the Boston Symphony, but he was a better musician, producing taut, exciting performances with a keen ear to the music’s structure.
I agonized between Toscanini’s 1942 recording of the Sixth Symphony with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which is taken at a slightly more relaxed pace and has gorgeous sound quality, but in the end I felt that his 1947 remake with the NBC Symphony sounded somehow more “Russian” and had more bite to it. Svetlanov’s 1967 recording of the Fourth is, of course, a legendary performance, and I found Jurowski’s new recordings of the Second and Third to be much more dynamic and exciting than Markevitch’s. So there.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto: I. Allegro moderato; II. Canzonetta: Andante; III. Finale: Allegro vivaccisimo / Bronislaw Huberman, violinist; Philadelphia Orchestra; Eugene Ormandy, conductor / Music & Arts 1122 or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on movement titles above
Huberman left us two recordings of this concerto, the first a studio version from 1929 conducted by Steinberg and this live performance from 1946 conducted by Ormandy. I like both, but the 1946 performance has cleaner and more dramatically inflected playing by the Philadelphia Orchestra, and of course the sound is far superior. Huberman plays both performances virtually the same in terms of phrasing and style.
Telemann, Georg Philipp
TELEMANN: Orchestral Suites (6) / Pratum Integrum Orchestra / Caro Mitis 22010 or available for streaming in small bits on YouTube
TELEMANN: Tafelmusik, Production 3 / Cologne Musica Antiqua; Reinhard Goebel, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
Telemann was a good composer but, to my ears, not always interesting. The works listed above are the ones I enjoy the most.
THOMAS: Le Caïd: Enfant chéri des dames [Air du Tambour-Major] / Pol Plançon, bass; Victor Orchestra / available for free streaming on YouTube
THOMAS: Hamlet: O vin, discaccia la tristezze / Titta Ruffo, baritone; Victor Orchestra / available for free streaming on YouTube
THOMAS: Hamlet: Sa main depuis hier [Mad Scene] / Eidé Norena, soprano; Piero Coppola, conductor; unidentified orchestra / available for free streaming on YouTube
THOMAS: Mignon / Risë Stevens, contralto (Mignon); James Melton, tenor (Wilhelm Meister); Mimi Benzell, soprano (Philine); Ezio Pinza, bass (Lothario); Lucielle Browning, mezzo (Frédéric); Donald Dame, tenor (Laërte); John Gurney, baritone (Jarno); Osie Hawkins, baritone (Antonio); Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus; Wilfred Pelletier, conductor / Sony Classical 7961922 or available for free streaming on YouTube beginning HERE
Thomas was another minor composer whose opera Mignon was his greatest achievement. Although there have been other, more modern recordings of this opera, none have the overall pizzazz or feeling for the music of this old Metropolitan Opera broadcast, one of the greatest preserved from the Old Met. The recorded excerpts from Le Caïd and Hamlet (a weak opera with only two notable arias) listed above are even older historic recordings, but no one in the modern era has ever surpassed them.
Thomas, Augusta Read
THOMAS: Angel Tears & Earth Prayers / Allen Harrington, saxophonist; Lottie Enns-Braun, organist / Chi for String Quartet / Spektral Quartet / Dappled Things / Notre Dame University Glee Club / Eurythmy Etudes for Piano / Lynn Raley, pianist / Klee Musings for Piano Trio / Civitas Ensemble / Qi for Percussion Quartet on Two Marimbas / Third Coast Percussion / Ritual Incantations (Cello Concerto No. 2) / David Finckel, cellist; Taipei Symphony Orchestra; Felix Chiu-Sen Chen, conductor / Venus Enchanted / Scott Kluksdahl, cellist / Nimbus Alliance 6355, also available for streaming in small bits on YouTube
Augusta Read Thomas is an interesting American composer whose music has been issued somewhat extensively on the British Nimbus Alliance label. I’ve heard three CDs of her music, but the one above is, for me, the best and most consistently interesting.
THOMSON: Concerto for Cello & Orchestra / Yehuda Hanani, cellist; RTE National Symphony Orchestra; William Eddins, conductor / part of Naxos 8.559344 or available for free streaming on YouTube
THOMSON: 5 Ladies for Violin & Piano.1 7 Selected Portraits for Piano. A Portrait of Two, for Oboe, Bassoon & Piano.3,4 Violin Sonata.1 Concerto for Flute, Strings, Harp & Percussion: I. Rapsodico for Solo Flute.2 3 Portraits for Violin & Piano (arr. Dushkin).1 Piano Sonata No. 2. Serenade for Flute & Violin.1,2 Etude for Cello & Piano: A Portrait of Frederic James.5 Lili Hastings.1 6 Selected Portraits for Piano. Northeastern Suite (arr. Wheeler).1-5 Susie Asado.6 Pigeons on the Grass, Alas.10 Praises and Prayers.7 5 Phrases from “The Song of Solomon.” 6,11 Mostly About Love.6 Commentaire sur Saint Jérome.9 From “Sneden’s Landing Variations.” 6 Shakespeare Songs.7 Oraison funèbre de Henriette-Marie de Franc reine de la Grande-Bretagne.6 Capital Capitals 8-10 / Anthony Tommasini, pno (all tracks except Concerto for Flute, Serenade for Flute & Violin, No. 2 of 3 Portraits for Violin & Piano and 5 Phrases from “The Song of Solomon”); 1Sharan Leventhal, vln; 2Fenwick Smith, fl; 3Frederic T. Cohen, oboe; 4Ronald Haroutunian, bsn; 5Jonathan Miller, cel; 6Nancy Armstrong, sop; 7D’Anna Fortunato, mezzo; 8Frank Kelley, 9Paul Kirby, ten; 10Sanford Sylvan, bar; 8David Ripley, bs; 11James Russell Smith, perc / Everbest 1002
Years before he became a music critic for The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini was a pianist and music educator, but not receiving tenure pushed him into the role of music critic. Tommasini was very lucky to have had both Virgil Thomson, himself a critic for the New York Herald-Tribune as well as a composer, as one of his mentors, along with the Boston Globe’s critic, Richard Dyer.
These two excellent recordings, which I missed the first time around, were recorded for Northeastern Records in 1990 (Portraits and Self-Portraits) and 1994 (Mostly About Love). Both were funded through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, are reissued here as a 2-CD set by Everbest, the record label of the Virgil Thomson Foundation at 254 West 31st St. in New York. The reissue was funded by Tommasini himself. All of the performers, and especially the singers, are excellent, and much of this music does not appear in any other Thomson collection.
THOMSON: The Mother of Us All / Dorothy Dow, soprano (Susan B. Anthony); Belva Kibler, mezzo (Anne); Hazel Gravell, mezzo (Gertrude S.); Robert Grooters, baritone (Virgil T.); Bertram Rowe, baritone (Daniel Webster); William Horne, tenor (Jo the Loiterer); Carlton Sunday, baritone (Chris the Citizen); Ruth Krug, soprano (Indiana Elliot); Carolyn Blakeslee, mezzo (Angel More); Teresa Stich-Randall, soprano (Henrietta M.); Jacques LaRochelle, tenor (Henry B.); Alfred Kunz, bass (Thaddeus Stevens ); Nancy Reid, mezzo (Lillian Russell); William Elliott Savage (Indiana’s Brother); George C. Hunter, baritone (Negro Man); Columbia University Orchestra; Otto Luening, conductor / Opera Depot OD 11106-2
THOMSON: The Plow That Broke the Plains / Symphony of the Air; Leopold Stokowski, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
THOMSON: The River / Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Neville Marriner, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
THOMSON: Tiger! Tiger! / Troy Valjean Rucker, baritone; Victoria Devany, pianist / available for free streaming on YouTube
Music critic, columnist and composer Virgil Thomson didn’t write as much music as he might have because of his other duties. His style vacillated between an American sort of Stravinskyism (The Mother of Us All) and a much more popular sort of late-Romantic Americana (the other works). His other well-known opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, I find confused and unpalatable, but The Mother of Us All is a gem, and this rather dry-sounding recording of the world premiere from 1947 is still the best recording of it.
TIPPETT: A Child of Our Time / Ute Selbig, soprano; Nora Gubisch, contralto; Jerry Hadley, tenor; Robert Holl, bass; Chorus of Saxon State Opera, Dresden; Dresden State Orchestra; Sir Colin Davis, conductor / Hänssler Classic 7052 or available for free streaming on YouTube starting HERE
Michael Tippett, who I actually met at the Aspen Music Festival in 1979, was a fair composer who wrote one work of real genius. This is it. Despite the starry names of Jessye Norman and Janet Baker on Davis’ studio recording for Philips, I actually prefer this live performance.
Tosti, F. Paolo
TOSTI: Addio. L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra. ‘A Vucchella. Luna d’estate. Ideale. Pour un baiser. La mia canzone / Enrico Caruso, tenor; Victor Orchestra / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking titles above
TOSTI: Au temps du grand Roi / Victor Maurel, baritone; unknown pianist / available for free streaming on YouTube
TOSTI: Marcehiare / Tito Schipa, tenor; Victor Orchestra; Rosario Bourdon, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
Francesco Paolo Tosti, the great song writer born in Italy, actually spent much of his life in England where his music delighted Queen Victoria. Although not on the highest level of art, his music was very well crafted and attractive. By and large, the older singers sang it better than today’s sticks-in-the-mud.
TURINA: Danzas Gitanas / Katarzyna Musiał, pianist / part of Meridian 84621 or available for free streaming on YouTube
TURINA: La Oración del Torero / Leopold Stokowski & his Symphony Orchestra / available for free streaming on YouTube
TURINA: Piano Quartet in A min. / Trio Arbós; Rocio Gómez, violist / available for free streaming on YouTube in small bits
TURINA: Poeme en forma de Canciones / Ailyn Pérez, soprano; Iain Burnside, pianist / available for free streaming on YouTube
Turina was an interesting composer who wrote a few really great pieces. These are my favorite versions of them.
TYMOCZKO: Another Fantastic Voyage / Daniel Schlosberg, pianist; Illinois Modern Ensemble / Dreams May Come. Kachunk. Katrina Stomp. Sweet Nothings / Thomas Bergeron, trumpeter; Alejandro Aviles, alto saxist; Geoff Vidal, tenor saxist; Ken Thomson, bass clarinetist; Daniel Kelly, pianist; Michael O’Brien, bassist; David Skidmore, drummer / Earthquake. Loop & Swing / Bergeron, Vidal, O’Brien, Skidmore; Jon Irbagon, alto saxist; Rane Moore, bass clarinetist; William Stevens, pianist; James Johnston, synthesizer / The Eggman Variations / Corigliano Quartet; John Blacklow, pianist / Sayonara / Bergeron, Aviles,Vidal, Thomson, O’Brien, Skidmore; Vladimir Katz, pianist / This Picture Seems to Move. Typecase Treasury / The Amernet String Quartet / Bridge 9383 or available for free streaming on YouTube in small bits
TYMOCZKO: I Cannot Follow / Flexible Music / Rube Goldberg Variations / John Blacklow, pianist; Atlantic Brass Quintet / S Sensation Something / Matthew Bengtson, pianist; Amernet String Quartet / Bridge 9492 or available for free streaming on YouTube beginning HERE
I find Dmitri Tymoczko’s music unique and compelling in its odd way. He seems to me to combine angular modern classical forms and occasionally jazz or rock music in a highly creative manner.