Post by drh8h
His death was just announced. Had the pleasure of speaking to him once. Was bold enough to give him some ideas of pieces to play and he actually took one of my suggestions in Indianapolis. A fine conductor in a much wider repertory than he is usually associated. Well done, Maestro.
Raymond Leppard has figured prominently in my record collection since I began listening to classical music in earnest, especially his many recording ventures with the English Chamber Orchestra during the team’s ’60s & ’70s heyday (mostly on the Philips label). Leppard coaxes a relatively full and robust sound from the orchestra, and he brings a natural swagger and panache to the proceedings that tends to set him apart from his more buttoned-down contemporary, Neville Marriner—though Marriner-led performances tend to be more finely detailed and balanced, more polished even. His often pioneering recordings of Monteverdi and other early Baroque composers strike me as a bit dated nowadays, but they’re still quite “musical” and listenable. His ’80s & ’90s recordings, mostly with CBS, are generally very good, but few of them have that certain something that make his ’60s & ’70s Philips recordings so special to me.
Leppard/ECO is my go-to team for the orchestral warhorses of Bach and Handel—I keep flirting with others, but I always end up coming home to Leppard/ECO—and its disc of the Dvorak & Tchaikovsky serenades is another great favorite. These are my favorite recordings by Leppard, most being my overall favorite for the given work …
G. F. HANDEL: Water Music
J. S. BACH: Brandenburg Concertos
J. S. BACH: Orchestral Suites
G. F. HANDEL: Concerti grossi, Op. 6
G. F. HANDEL: Musick for the Royal Fireworks
C. P. E. BACH: Sinfonias, Wq. 183
W. A. MOZART: Mass in C minor, K. 427 “Great” (w/New Philharmonia Orchestra & John Alldis Choir on EMI)
Antonin DVORAK: Serenade for Strings
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY: Serenade for Strings
Antonin DVORAK: Legends (w/LPO)
Edvard GRIEG: Holberg Suite ~ As much as I like the Leppard/ECO account, it must yield to the freakishly good account by Tønnesen/Norwegian Chamber Orchestra [BIS ’79] in my affections.
One nagging regret with regard to Leppard is that he didn’t conduct the recording of The Four Seasons that the ECO made with Henryk Szeryng for Philips in 1969: I love Szeryng’s playing of the solo part, but his conducting is a bit foursquare, and I always find myself wishing that Leppard was on the podium.