In Song

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Nimbus Prima Voce
ALBUM TITLE: John Mccormack
PERFORMER: John Mccormack
CATALOGUE NO: Nl 7854

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The year was 1946; the month, July, and the orchestra, Walter Legge’s newly formed Philharmonia. Leonard Bernstein, a lissom 28-year-old, charged at Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto like a seasoned jazzer, rousing his London colleagues to like-minded high jinks.

High camp, too – especially for An American in Paris, recorded in New York a year or so later. Add Bernstein’s own tough-grained Facsimile and Copland’s jaunty ‘Jingo’ and you have a Kerouac-style period piece, replete with images of smoke and Brylcreem.

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It was almost 40 years since the same American Victor company had lured the great John McCormack from European recording commitments; but the gesture paid enormous financial and artistic dividends. No singer since has imbued the likes of ‘I Hear You Calling Me’, ‘The Lost Chord’ or ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’ with as much feeling, artistry or vocal richness, and Nimbus’s 21-track collection tells the tale in remarkably good sound. Which only goes to prove that old 78s can still pack a fair sonic wallop.