Additional resources are provided for those wishing to learn more about the history, the music, and the people chronicled in The Nightingale’s Sonata. Audio recordings are listed below. Film and video resources can be found here. Suggestions for further reading can be found here. An alphabetical list of the characters can be found here.
The César Franck Violin Sonata
The eponymous “sonata” from the book’s title is the Sonata in A Major by César Franck. There are dozens of recordings of the work, many of which can be accessed on the internet. Sadly, there is no commercial recording of the work by Lea or any members of Lea’s family though there is a video of Lea’s grandson, Andrew Wolf, playing the first two movements of the work with Isaac Stern at the White House. Watch the performance here →
Otherwise, it is difficult to choose a single commercial recording by others to recommend. I somewhat arbitrarily chose one by Lea’s great friend and fellow Russian violinist, David Oistrakh, with the pianist Sviatoslav Richter from 1968. Listen here →
Since this recording was made more than a half century ago, listeners (especially audiophiles) might wish to select a more recent recording that was produced with today’s state-of-the art audio technology.
The Beethoven Violin Sonata no. 9 (“Kreutzer”)
Another work that figures prominent in The Nightingale’s Sonata is Beethoven’s so-called “Kreutzer” sonata. For those who like watching as well as listening to a performance over the internet, there is a very good live one by violinist Pinchus Zukerman and pianist Marc Neikrug from Santa Fe.
Luboshutz & Nemenoff
Pierre Luboshutz & Genia Nemenoff were Lea Luboshutz’s brother and sister-in-law respectively. They launched a career in America as a duo-piano team in 1937 and became world famous. They also recorded extensively. There are many of their recordings easily accessible on the internet including several on YouTube and Spotify. Feel free to go sample them on your own but here is a selection of some of my favorites:
Variations on a Theme by Haydn by Johannes Brahms, op 56b. The original version of this famous work was composed for two pianos though it is better known in the orchestral version. Pierre and Genia recorded the original version in the 1940s on 78 rpm discs for the RCA Victor label. Considering the primitive technology, the audio quality is surprisingly good. Listen here →
“Largo al factotum,” the famous aria from Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville” as humorously arranged for two pianos, was one of Luboshutz & Nemenoff’s most popular encore pieces. Here is a recording of it from 1951. Listen here →
“The Bat,” A Fantasy from Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” by Pierre Luboshutz. Pierre arranged much music for two pianos but undoubtedly his most popular arrangement was this collection of the main themes from Strauss’ opera “Die Fledermaus.” Luboshutz & Nemenoff recorded it several times but this latest version, made for Everest, was the only one recorded in stereo. Listen here →
Boris Goldovsky Opera Lectures
Boris Goldovsky, Lea’s son, was originally a pianist but later became famous as an opera producer and pedagogue. Millions of opera lovers knew him as “Mr. Opera,” the host of intermission features during Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House. Boris would sit at a piano in front of a live audience, offering a lecture about the opera of the day, interspersing his words with musical selections on the piano. Some of these lectures were subsequently issued as recordings.
“Mr. Opera: Recollections of Metropolitan Opera/Texaco Intermission Broadcasts with Boris Goldovsky.” Three of Boris’ Metropolitan Opera lectures (discussions of Bizet’s “Carmen,” Puccini’s “La Bohème,” and Britten’s “Peter Grimes”) were made into a CD. The recording begins with an introduction by one of Boris’ most famous students, Metropolitan Opera baritone Sherrill Milnes. That is followed by a second introduction of Boris, just as one would have heard it on the radio, by the Met Broadcast announcer Milton Cross. Then come the three lectures.
More Met Broadcast lectures by Boris Goldovsky. While Boris provided insights into the popular opera repertory, some of his most fascinating lectures, in my opinion, are about more obscure repertory. Here for example, we can learn about Meyerbeer’s “Le prophète” and Poulenc’s “Dialogues des carmélites”. And in this recording, Boris discusses Massenet's opera “Esclarmonde” and Berg's “Lulu.”
Wolf Tracks : Music of My Family
When the production team was preparing the video entitled “Irene at 90” in honor of Irene Goldovsky Wolf’s 90th birthday, Irene was asked what she would like for a musical sound track. “Please use recordings of family members — as many as possible,” she answered. Following completion of the video, a CD was made for her consisting of a compilation of the recordings that were used for which she wrote charming notes. Some works featured on the CD are included below: