|LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI CONDUCTS WAGNER WITH THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA
WAGNER: Rienzi Overture (Rec. Nov. 18, 1926 & Jan.
6, 1927). Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin (Rec. Oct.13, 1927). Prelude to
Act III of Lohengrin (Rec. Mar. 27, 1940). Symphonic
Synthesis of Das
Trinity Church Studios. Rec. Mar. 4, 1933). Excerpts from Die Walküre (Lawrence
Tibbett, baritone.Trinity Church Studios.
Rec.April 30, 1934). Excerpts from
Die Walküre (Siegmund Comforts Sieglinde, Ride of the
Brünnhilde Pleads Before Wotan, Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire
(Rec. April 9, 1939). Excerpts from Siegfried (Agnes
Davis, soprano; Frederik Jagel, tenor.Trinity Church, Rec. Dec. 10,
1934). Excerpts from Die Götterdämmerung (Agnes Davis,
soprano. Rec. Trinity Church
Studios. Mar. 25/April 29/Oct. 28, 1933). Götterdämmerung Finale
(Jan. 6, 1927). Overture and Venusberg Music from Tannhäuser (Paris
Sept. 23, 1929 & Mar. 14/April 29, 1930). Overture and Venusberg
Music from Tannhäuser (Paris version) (Chorus
of 17 female voices. Rec. Dec. 12, 1937). Prelude to Act III of Tannhäuser (Rec.
Jan. 15, 1936). Overture to Tannhäuser (Dresden version)
(Trinity Church Studios. Rec. Nov. 7 & Dec. 5, 1921). Fest
March from Tannhäuser (Trinity
Church Studios., Rec. April 28, 1924). Symphonic Synthesis of
Tristan und Isolde (first version) (Trinity Church Studios.
Rec. April 16/23, 1932). Symphonic Synthesis of Tristan and Isolde (second
version) (Rec. April 5/Nov. 7, 1937/Dec. 16/30, 1935/April 20, 1939). Wesendonck
Lieder (Im Treibhaus, Träume, Schmerzen) (Helen Traubel,
soprano. Rec. Dec. 22, 1940). Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger (Rec.
Jan. 15, 1936). Prelude to Act III of Die Meistersinger (Trinity
Church Studios. Mar. 17, 1931). Prelude to Act I of Parsifal (Rec.
Nov. 28, 1936). Good Friday Spell from Act III of Parsifal (Rec.
Nov. 28, 1936). Symphonic Synthesis from Act III of Parsifal (Trinity
Church Studios. Rec. April 7, 1934).
EDUARD VAN BEINUM LIVE PERFORMANCES WITH THE CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA
DEBUSSY: Images for Orchestra (Dec. 19, 1948). Printemps (July
8, 1942). La Mer (Jan. 30, 1941). FRANCK: Symphonic excerpts from Psyché
(May 15, 1941). RAVEL: Suite No. 2 (Oct. 11, 1954).
ANDRIESSEN: Miroir de Peine (Irma Kolassi, soprano, Dec.
21, 1952). ESCHER: (c. 1950). BEETHOVEN: Violin
Concerto in D (Zino Francescatti, violin, March 19, 1958). Piano Concerto
No. 3 (Solomon, piano, Dec. 18, 1952). BACH: Keyboard Concerto No.
1 in D minor (Dinu Lipatti, piano, Oct. 2, 1947). MOZART: Violin Concerto
No. 4 (Yehudi Menuhin, violin, June 8, 1956). SCHUBERT: Entr'acte and
Ballet Music II from Rosamunde (July 7, 1940). SCHOENBERG: Five
Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16 (Oct. 12, 1951).
Here are two class issues from Andante. They're pricey, but worth the investment. It is a pleasure it is to see these richly-documented quality sets on the shelf! All of Stokowski's RCA Wagner recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra are here (with but a few very minor exceptions), the earliest an acoustic recording from 1921, the latest from 1940, all in superb new transfers by Ward Marston who wisely has enhanced some of the recordings made in the dry acoustics of Trinity Church Studios. The performances are sublime. Stokowski always keeps things moving, and his luminous conducting explores the rich textures of Wagner's scoring. Although the singers involved in the Ring excerpts are not leading Wagner stars of the time, they surely are more than adequate. We do have the luxury of Lawrence Tibbett in Wotan's Farewell, a role the American baritone never sang on stage, and Helen Traubel in three of the Wesendonck Lieder (how sad they didn't record the other two!). Stokowski's Tristan excerpts are impassioned to the extreme, and we have both versions of the opera's Act II Love Music, one with the abrupt ending, the other with the Liebestod. It is remarkable how producer Charles O'Connell was able to capture the rich orchestral sonorities heard on the later recordings in this set, considering that the dry acoustics of the Academy of Music have always been a probem for recording engineers.
The Eduard van Beinum set is another story. All of these remarkable live performances were issued previously in a Q Disc set REVIEWED on this site. But that set has been discontinued and if you wish to have the performances listed above, this is the way to acquire them. Has here ever been a more dynamic, intoxicating La Mer than this live performance from January of 1941? And Irma Kolassi's singing in Andriessen's exquisite song cycle Miroir de Peine is a major addition to the CD library. These are only two of the treasures in this set—we also have has collaboration with Solomon, Lipatti, Menuhin and Francescatti. Van Beinum's untimely death in 1958 was a tremendous loss to the musical world. There still are many of his commercial recordings—as well as many more live performances—not yet issued. Perhaps in Volume II, Andante?
For the true collector of historic orchestral recordings both of these sets are indispenable.
R.E.B. (September 2003)