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Jonel (Ionel) Perlea (1900-1970)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 
 



 

 

 

 

 

 







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Although 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 and Saint-Saëns, he accompanied pianist Edward Kilenyi in Brahms and in outstanding performances of works by Liszt.

His 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.

According 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 ballet music.

Jonel Perlea (Photo Vox/Orbis/Parnass)

Jonel Perlea 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.

In 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.

When 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 and later led the opera's performed at the great opera house, La Scala, Milan, where he conducted a wide variety of operas.

In 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.

In 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 Bridgeport Symphony.
On July 29, 1970, Jonel Perlea died at the age of 69 in New York.

Jonel 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 in Connecticut.

R-199-159 - 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."

R-199-160 - 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.

R-199-164 - Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brahms) - Edward Kilenyi, pianist and Jonel Perlea conducting the RIAS Symphony Orchestra (the only recording of Kilenyi of this concerto).

R-199-166 - Piano Concerto No. 1 and Totentanz/Todtentanz - Variations on Dies Irae (Liszt) - Edward Kilenyi, pianist and Jonel Perlea conducting the RIAS Symphony Orchestra. Performances in the same vein as Kilenyi's 1936 French Pathé recordings.

R-199-173 - 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.

R-199-188 - 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.

R-199-200/3 - 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 Halasz.
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. See more
Opera on Remington.

The breach of contract with the Bertelsmann firm prevented the release (and replacement of the earlier anonymous recording by conductor X) of a Remington disc with Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 with Jonel Perlea conducting the Teatro la Fenice (recorded at the time of Lucia di Lammermoor and of music by American composers). The recording was released in Germany on Tefi Schallbänder (See for the Tefifon Schallband label / Sound Film RIAS Symphony Orchestra - Tefifon).

Rudolf A. Bruil, September 2002

NOTE As so many conductors also Jonel Perlea composed. On The Romanian Blogspot Dedicated to Ionel Perlea the following works were listed but the link no longer directs to that list:

Drei 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 dedbonair 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)

R.A.B. 2013


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