Mozert: Concierto de la Bowerie (CD-R review)

Billy Halop, piccolo; Leo Gorcey, timpani; Huntz Hall, triangle; Isadore "Friz" Freleng, East Side Philharmonic Orchestra. HiBrow Records ICU-007.

Then nine-year-old Wolfsbane Amadayold Mozert (1758-1892) wrote his Sinfonia de la Bowerie in 1725 when he was only four years old. But in one of the classic stories of classical music, he left the manuscript in the breast pocket of his best plaid waistcoat when his mother ran it through the wash. "Wolfie," she famously remarked, "why do always leave things in your pockets!" And, thus, we have the Concierto de la Bowerie, written in 1743 but never performed in young Mozert's lifetime nor in our own.

In response to a dwindling public interest, Spike Jones and his City Slickers took up the baton, and several instruments, in 1943 to lead a revival of this essential share of nearly washed-up writing. Scored for two trombones and a pennywhistle, the Concierto found a near-perfect realization from Maestro Jones, Concertmaster Maestoso Maestricht, and the gang of Slickers on a never-released and long-forgotten LP, the musicians playing the three-minute opus uncut, without the usual repeats in the second-movement Allegro, the fourth-movement Allegorio, or the seventh-movement Allergico. The result is a perfectly charming example of the work of early Dutch settlers in the New York area.

As to the music of the Concierto, it stinks. If it weren't for the fact that conductor Freleng misses every beat, the players botch every note, and the audio engineers appear to have recorded the orchestra in the men's room of the East Side Masonic Lodge, the whole thing would have been a disaster. Fortunately, the awfulness of the performance complements the quality of the music, which is suspect from beginning to end.

Scholars believe that Mozert wrote about 8,542 compositions, from brief harmonica solos for his pals to full orchestral oratorios for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (an organization founded in 372 A.D. by the Roman plutocrat Glennus Becktus). But there is no record that W.A. ever sold a sheet of music in his life. Instead, young Mozert, the son of a prosperous pretzel maker, and his wife, Mitzi, the son of a wealthy pizza grinder, lived comfortably off their parents' dough their entire lives.

Incidentally, scholars have long debated whether W.A. Mozert was in any way related to his more celebrated namesake, Carlo Benitto Leonardi von Heineken Mozert (1758-1723), but so far as can be established, there is no familial tie (nor so much as a cravat). Although the two men shared the same Hamburg condo for decades and married the same woman, they apparently never met. Even W.A.'s own blood son was only related to him by marriage (on his mother's side).

One final note: For those listeners who prefer to hear the Concierto played by a small ensemble on period instruments, the company also make it available from the Guggenheim Grammar School Band and Bugle Corps de Ballet on their companion label, LoBrow Records ICU2-008.

JJP

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa