Wilma Cozart Fine died Monday at age 82.
You may not know her name, but you probably have been touched by her work. She was a record producer for Mercury Living Presence in the 1950's and early 60's. Mercury Living Presence recordings gained a cult following among audiophiles, and popular success among music lovers for their great artists and spectacular impeccable production.
The group that became the most famous was the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and conductor Antal Doráti. They scored a Gold Record hit with their 1958 recording of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," a hi-fi extravaganza that included historic canons from West Point, giant bells at Riverside Church, and extra brass from the U of MN Band. Remember the cover art?
Wilma Cozart Fine started her career as Antal Dorati's personal secretary. She became vice president of Mercury Records in 1954. She came out of retirement in the 1990's to produce again, this time to satisfy fans who were clamoring for CD re-issues of the Mercury Living Presence LP's.
Many people will be very happy to hear that Osmo Vanska has renewed his contract with the Minnesota Orchestra.
I can remember being strongly encouraged by a friend, years ago, to come to Orchestra Hall to hear Vanska's work in a memorable concert with Joshua Bell as the soloist. At that point, Vanska was a guest, not yet music director. But there was a rapport that was hard to miss--which will now be continuing through the 2014-15 season. (That seems like five more years--though it's actually a four-year extension to the agreement already in place.)
Do you have favorite moments from Osmo's concerts or recordings? Future projects you'd like to see conductor and orchestra undertake?
Airline prices might be dropping, but I can't just take the weekend off to fly to Paris. So I'll do the next best thing: don my beret and head over to Saint Paul's Church of the Nativity for a series of French concerts on their French organ.
The series might more accurately be called a "marathon" - it takes a whole month to present all ten of Charles Marie Widor's Organ Symphonies played on an organ that sounds pretty much like the organ Widor wrote these pieces on and for at St. Sulpice in Paris.
Nativity's Casavant-Freres organ is actually French-Canadian. 2,882 pipes in 52 ranks were installed a couple of years ago and I think every pipe is put to work in the marathon beginning Sunday.
This is the kind of music you feel in your solar plexus. The walls will vibrate and your teeth will rattle - it's sensational stuff!
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