MUSSORGSKY-STOKOWSKI: A Night on Bare Mountain. Suite from Khovantschina.
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Russian Easter Festival Overture. GLIÈRE: Russian
Sailor's Dance from The Red Poppy. TCHAIKOVSKY: Polonaise from Eugene
In the Steppes of Central Asia. Dances of the Polovetzki Maidens from Prince
ARNE: God Save the Queen (BBC Symphony Orch/Arturo Toscanini, cond.
Queen's Hall, May 19. 1938). SIBELIUS: Andante Festivo (Finnish National
Orch/Jan Sibelius, cond. Helsinki Radio Concert Hall, January 1, 1939).
ELGAR: Third movement of Symphony No. 2 in E flat, Op. 63. (Sir Edward
Elgar/London Symphony Orch/rehearsal for recording July 15, 1927). BEETHOVEN:
Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93 (BBC Symphony Orch/Sir Henry Wood, cond. January
3, 1936). Fragment of Symphony No. 8 from same concert as previous. Third
movement of Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Wilhelm
Furtwängler, cond. April 21-24, 1942). Announcement. FULEIHAN: Concerto
for Theremin and Orchestra (Clara Rockmore, theremin/New York Symphony
Orch/Leopold Stokowski, cond. February 1945). Announcement. VARÈSE: Ionisation for Percussion Ensemble (Ens/Nicholas Slonimsky, cond. New York, March
TCHAIKOVSKY: Nutcracker Suite, Op. 72a. DEBUSSY-CAPLET: Children's
Corner Suite. WAGNER: Good Friday Spell and Symphonic Synthesis
from Act III of
BIZET: Symphony in C. L'Arlesienne Suites 1 and 2.
Here's a feast for admirers of Leopold Stokowski, three important reissues, including a brief—but major—addition to his catalog of live performances. All of Cala's reissues (except the Igor Dances which date from 1950 ) were recorded in 1953 in Manhattan Center, and reflect the warm acoustics of the venue. The orchestra perhaps sounds a bit small but it is a virtuoso group and plays brilliantly for the Maestro. Stokowski's transcriptions of the Mussorgsky pieces are colorful to say the least, and he adds his own "sunrise" ending to Night. Instead of Rimsky-Korsakov's written trombone solo in Russian Easter, Stokowski has the Russian liturgical chant sung by bass Nicolas Moscona. This is probably the most langorous performance of In the Steppes you'll ever hear, the only recording of the music ever made by Stokowski. The expanded Igor Dances include a womens' chorus. Immaculately transferred from pristine LP originals, the sound is surprisingly wide range and effective. Thanks, Cala!
Bearac Reissues continues to issue other famous Stokowski recordings, also made in Manhattan Center. Even these relatively early Stokowski recordings were not his first except for the Debussy which dates from 1949; he would record three excerpts in 1959. Stokowski had already recorded music from Nutcracker three times including one time for Fantasia before this 1950 recording. This was his first recording of Bizet's Symphony, his second was made in 1977. Stokowski already had recorded music from Bizet's L'Arlesienne, excerpts in 1922(!) and 1929, and recorded both suites in 1977. The Good Friday Spell and Act III Synthesis had been recorded in 1936 and 1934. This Bearc reissue is of the 1952 recording and incorrectly labeled Good Friday Spell the "Prelude to Act I." Stokowski later would record the Synthesis (along with Good Friday Music) in 1959 in Houston. These 1952 Wagner recordings already have been issued on Cala CACD0535. The orchestra for the Wagner sounds rather understaffed, but Stokowski's interpretation is worthy, the mono sound good for its time. For some reason, Stokowski makes a small cut in the L'Arlesienne Farandole—does anyone know why? For information about Bearac Reissues, contact them: BEARAC REISSUES
The new addition to Stokowski's discography is the live performance of Anis Fuleihan's Concerto for Theremin and Orchestra recorded when it received its world premiere February 26, 1945 with Clara Rockmore as soloist with the New York City Symphony Orchestra. This fascinating 13-minute concerto explores the world of sounds of the unusual instrument, with Stokowski, always intrigued by new music, offering sensitive support. Other items on the Symposium disk are of varying interest. It's good to hear Toscanini in 1938 conducting God Save the Queen, and this is apparently the only existing recording of Sibelius conducting his own music, recorded in 1939. Elgar can briefly be heard rehearsing the London Symphony in his Symphony No. 2, and we have yet another sample of Furtwängler conducting part of the slow movement of Beethoven's Symphony No 9 recorded in 1942 in Vienna. It's odd Symposium included Sir Henry Wood's performance of Beeethoven's Symphony No. 8 from 1936, which is missing moments here and there. Sound quality is poor, the source a home recording made on thin cardboard discs. The notorious Ionisation by Varèse concludes Symposium's CD, recorded by conductor Nicholas Slonimsky shortly after the New York premiere March 6, 1933. The CD is worth owning just for the unusual Fuleihan concerto.
R.E.B. (June 2007)