Jonel Perlea made the bulk of his recordings for the RCA and Vox labels,
his appearances on Remington Records are noteworthy. He conducted
the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in works of Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns,
Debussy, and he accompanied pianist Edward Kilenyi in Brahms and in
outstanding performances of works by Liszt.
understanding of various styles and his versatility with all sorts
of music was also illustrated in the recordings of works by Dane Rudhyar,
by Peggy Glanville-Hicks, and by Ulysses Kay. Kay's Concerto for Orchestra
was written in Italy, in 1948, and premiered in Venice by the Teatro
La Fenice Orchestra conducted by Perlea in 1954.
to the liner notes on Remington R-199-166 Perlea mastered more than
eighty operas and about six hundred and fifty symphonic works.
Critics hailed his exact rendition of complicated scores and his phrasing
and rhythmic elasticity which made him at ease both with opera and
Perlea (Photo Vox/Orbis/Parnass)
was born in Ograda (Roumania) on December 13th 1900, of a German mother
and a Rumanian father. That he was talented was already clear when
he was still a young boy and was sent to Munich where he received
his musical education, studying with the German pedagogue Anton Beer-Walbrunn
(1864-1929), and at the Leipzig Conservatory of Music (Leipziger Musikhochschule)
with Paul Graener (1872-1944) and Otto Lohse (1858-1925), all three
were strongly interested in opera.
1934 Perlea was appointed General Manager and Musical Director of
the Bucharest Opera, he gave concerts with the Bucharest
Philharmonic Orchestra and was a professor in composition at the
Royal Academy of Music of Rumania. At the same time he toured
Europe as a guest conductor of the major orchestras.
attempting to travel to France with his wife, he was arrested and
interned in concentration camps. After World War II he settled down
in Italy. First he conducted the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. Later he
was appointed at La Scala, Milan, where he conducted a wide
variety of operas.
1949 he made a successful debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York,
conducting Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde'. A season with the San
Francisco Opera Company, several broadcasts of concerts as a guest
conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the musical directorship
of the 1951 Grand Opera Festival at San Antonio, Texas, followed.
In 1952 he was appointed to the Manhattan School of Music and
was soon invited by Laszlo Halasz to make recordingens for Remington.
recording of works by Tchaikovsky (Nutcracker Suite) and Grieg
(Peer Gynt) conducted by Jonel Perlea, made by VOX, was released
in his homeland Rumania on the Electrecord label.
1955 he made his debut as conductor of the Connecticut Symphony
and two years later took up the post of principal conductor of that
orchestra. He led the Connecticut Symphony for ten years. His contract
was not renewed. Jonel Perlea had become partially paralyzed from
a stroke, and was forced to conduct with his left hand. The main reason
for his leaving the orchestra however was the financial situation
of the Connecticut Symphony Orchestra which was then renamed Greater
On July 29, 1970, Jonel Perlea died at the age of 69 in New York.
Perlea's Remington recordings were made under the supervision of Laszlo
Halasz in the period 1953 to 1955, the period prior to Perlea's appointment
- La boîte à joujoux - The Box of Toys (Debussy)
- RIAS Symphony Orchestra, Berlin.
In High Fidelity - Magazine for Music Listeners - of September
1954, reviewer James Hinton, Jr., wrote: "This obscure ballet
score by the great French Impressionist dates from 1913. Jonel Perlea
directs a sensitive performance and we get some really excellent orchestral
sound from Remington."
- Carnival of Animals - Carnaval des animaux (Saint-SaŽns)
and Excerpts from Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky). These are beautiful,
spirited and balanced performances, well recorded. The cello solo
in The Swan is most certainly by Heinrich Köhler, first cello
player in the Rias Symphony, and the violin solo in Swan Lake is no
doubt by Rudolf Schulz. Also these performances show that Perlea is
an excellent conductor and his interpretations benefit from the fact
that he is also an opera conductor who knows how to present exciting,
dramatic and lyrical performances.
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brahms) - Edward Kilenyi, pianist and Jonel
Perlea conducting the
Symphony Orchestra (the only recording of Kilenyi of this
- Piano Concerto No. 1 and Totentanz/Todtentanz - Variations on
Dies Irae (Liszt) -
Kilenyi, pianist and Jonel Perlea conducting the RIAS Symphony
Orchestra. Performances in the same vein as Kilenyi's 1936 French
- Concerto for Orchestra - Toccata; Arioso; Passacaglia (Ulysses
Kay) - Jonel Perlea, conducting the Teatro La Fenice Orchestra
(later reissued by Tom Null on Varèse-Sarabande VC 81047). On
R-199-173 the Concerto for Orchestra is coupled with Normand Lockwood's
'Concerto for Organ and Brasses', performed by Marilyn Mason (organ)
and John Ware and Nathan Prager (trumpets) and Gordon Pulis and Lewis
Haney (trombones), conducted by Thor Johnson; and 'Quiet Design' performed
by Marilyn Mason at the organ. Released in May 1955. Recorded in the
series of American Composers Alliance.
- Sinfonietta (Rudhyar), Gymnopedia (Glanville-Hicks) - Jonel
Perlea conducting the RIAS Symphony Orchestra (coupled with Henry
Brant's Saxophone Concerto performed by Sigurd Rascher with the Cincinnati
Symphony conducted by Thor Johnson). Released in 1956. A recording
in cooperation with the American Composers Alliance.
- Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti) with Orchestra and Chorus
of the "La Fenice" Theater in Venice and Renata Ongaro, Giacinto Prandelli,
Philip Maero and Norman Scott. There was an entry in a Schwann Artists
edition which wrongly attributed this performance to conductor Laszlo
The set with reference number R-199-200/3 was released in the fall
of 1956 and listed in November's Schwann Catalog of that same year.
breach of contract with the Bertelsmann firm prevented the replacement
of the earlier anonymous recording by conductor X, with Beethoven's
Symphony No. 1, Jonel Perlea conducting the Teatro la Fenice.
This recording was made at the time when Lucia di Lammermoor and music
by American composers were taped. The Beethoven Symphony was released
in Germany on Tefi Schallbänder (See for the Tefifon Schallband
label / Sound Film
Symphony Orchestra - Tefifon).
Rudolf A. Bruil, September 2002
As so many
conductors also Jonel Perlea composed.
Blogspot Dedicated to Ionel Perlea the following works are listed
(no longer in English but in Romanian).
Lieder (Three Songs) Op. 10 for Voice and Piano
Der Fischer (The Fisherman) on a Poem by Wolfgang von Goethe Op. 15
for Voice and Piano
Piano Sonata Op. 12
Song without Words (Lied ohne Worte) for Piano
Sonata for Violin and Piano in One movement
Seven Variations for Piano
Ein heiteres Quartett (A debonair Quartet) Op. 10 No. 2
Adagio for Orchestra
Don Quixote (Symphonic Poem)
Variations on an original Theme for Orchestra
Symfonia Concertante for Violin and Orchestra
Three Etudes (Studies) for Orchestra
Symphony No. 1 in C for Orchestra (transcription of String Quartet
Op. 10 No. 2)