Louisville Orchestra

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To be fair, First Edition deserves credit for keeping many historic recordings of twentieth century music available: its albums usually offer solid performances with decent audio reproduction and are often valuable for being the only renditions on CD. However, not everything reissued is worth hearing more than once, and there are some pieces and performances on this label that are less than essential. Such is the case with this odd-lot of minor works by Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert, two composers who wrote some important pieces, but also a lot of forgettable trifles that are hard to enjoy. Honegger's lackluster Prélude pour Aglavaine et Sélysette (1917) and his stodgy Suite Archaique (1951) are grindingly tedious, humorlessly played, and made even more difficult to bear by the boxy sound quality. Ibert's La Ballade de la Geôle de Reading (1921) is a dismal musical evocation of Oscar Wilde's dark poem, perhaps appreciable for its serious intentions but not especially likable for its gloom. Bacchanale (1958) and the Louisville Concerto (1953) bring some much-needed silliness to the album, but after the boredom inflicted by the previous works, the payoff is minimal. The Louisville Orchestra, conducted by Robert Whitney and Jorge Mester, sounds a little scrappy and rough in these analog recordings made between 1954 and 1973, and though the audio seems reasonably cleaned of hiss, it sounds unpleasantly rough in some spots.

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