RCA Red Seal Records (now a division of Sony Masterworks) has just released the complete Chicago Symphony Orchestra recordings—some available for the first time on CD—led by Morton Gould, a frequent and favorite guest conductor in the 1960s.
“This set of recordings documents an unusual relationship Gould had with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” writes Alan G. Artner in the set’s liner notes. “[This] collection represents something close to the height of Gould’s work in the recording studio, made with the finest orchestra he conducted, taking chances with a good deal of music just being discovered in that adventurous, bygone time.”
Highlights of the six-CD set include several works by Ives, including The Unanswered Question, Variations on America, Robert Browning Overture, Putnam’s Camp, the first recording of Orchestral Set no. 2, and the Symphony no. 1 (which won the 1966 Grammy Award for Album of the Year—Classical). Also featured are Rimsky-Korsakov’s Antar Symphony, Miaskovsky’s Symphony no. 21, several waltzes by Tchaikovsky, Copland’s Dance Symphony, Gould’s Spirituals for Orchestra, and two works by Nielsen: the Symphony no. 2 and Clarinet Concerto featuring Benny Goodman. A special bonus track is Goodman performing Gould’s arrangement of Fred Fisher’s song Chicago (previously only available on LP, released in conjunction with the CSO’s second Marathon fundraiser in 1977).
In 1985, the Chicago Symphony gave the world premiere of Gould’s Flute Concerto, commissioned for the Orchestra, principal flute Donald Peck, and music director Sir Georg Solti. In the program note, the composer recalled, “Among my most pleasant memories are those years when I was guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”