Louis Lane Conducts

Album cover art for upc 196588337420
Label: SME
Catalog: 19658833742

Cleveland Orchestra

He went on to head major orchestras in Dallas and Atlanta and to guest conduct leading ensembles all over the world. But before that, Louis Lane honed his craft while working in the shadow of one of the great masters: in 1947, legendary maestro George Szell chose the young, inexperienced Texan to assist him in Cleveland – “I think you will do” was the gruff maestro’s verdict, exceptional praise indeed from that notorious perfectionist. Lane remained with the Cleveland Orchestra for more than two decades, moving up the ladder to become associate conductor. Playing his important role in Szell’s transformation of a respected second-tier ensemble into arguably the finest symphony orchestra in America, Lane earned a sterling reputation of his own, directing the renowned Cleveland Pops and broadening the orchestra’s repertoire with no fewer than 75 local premières. Between 1959 and 1972 – with the full Cleveland Orchestra, the somewhat smaller Cleveland Pops, and the chamber-sized Cleveland Sinfonietta – Louis Lane made a series of critically acclaimed recordings for Columbia. They display the “exceptional breadth and impeccable taste” for which this gifted but perennially undervalued conductor was lauded in a tribute by the orchestra’s executive director. Sony Classical is pleased to present them now – many for the first time on CD – in a new 14-disc set. Reviewers were effusive in their praise when these albums were originally released on LP. Here is a sampling: Pop Concert U.S.A. (1959) – music by Copland, Gershwin, Bernstein, and other American composers: “If only all the pops (or, for that matter, all the classics) were as good as this! … The orchestra plays splendidly” (Gramophone). On the Town with the Cleveland Pops (1960) – selections from On the Town, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, The King and I, and other Broadway musicals: “Scintillating … Under Lane’s enthusiastic direction, the Clevelanders play these familiar musical comedy excerpts with such precision and virtuosity that they emerge with glistening freshness” (High Fidelity). Music from the Films (1961) – Henry V, Louisiana Story, Bridge on the River Kwai, Gigi, Exodus, and other motion pictures: “This concert of music from the movies is so superior to most issues of its kind that it calls for special commendation … Lane has coaxed some beautiful playing from the Cleveland orchestra, and the engineers have provided him with rich and glorious sound” (High Fidelity). Romances and Serenades (1963) – music by Vaughan Williams, Delius, Warlock, Sibelius, and Françaix: “All the polish, assurance, and musical sympathy one would expect from a Cleveland performance … Not the least attraction of this splendid disc is the recording, firm and realistic with a glorious bloom on the instruments” (Gramophone). Lane also recorded classical repertoire with the Clevelanders, including Mozart in 1966 (“A marvelous D major Divertimento K. 334” – ClassicsToday), Beethoven in 1967 (“…the complete Creatures of Prometheus, led with dramatic flair and character” – ClassicsToday), and a French collection of Debussy, Ravel, and Satie (“Moving now to Cleveland we rediscover the striking sensibility of another underrated American conductor, Louis Lane … Magic … refinement of feeling. The warm ambience of Severance Hall is another asset … The 1969 recording is most musically balanced” – Gramophone). All these performances and many other gems are contained in this newly remastered anthology of Louis Lane’s Cleveland recordings, a long overdue homage to this outstanding American conductor.