TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique." Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32. Hamlet, Op. 67. Marche slave, Op. 31. Capriccio italien, Op. 45. 1812 Overture, Op. 49.
New York Philharmonic (symphonies, Romeo and Juliet, Francesca da Rimini) and Israel Philharmonic Orch/Leonard Bernstein, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6704 (4 disks) TT: 76:30 / 75:35 / 56:31 / 59:49
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WAGNER: Rienzi Overture. The Flying Dutchman Overture. Tannhäuser Overture & Bacchanale. Siegfried Idyll.
Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Sir Georg Solti, cond.
DECCA 475 8502 TT: 68:11
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ADAM: Excerpts from Giselle. WEBER-BERLIOZ: Invitation to the Dance. CHOPIN: Les Sylphides. DELIBES: Excerpts from Sylvia. TCHAIKOVSKY: Dance of the Swan Queen and Dance of the Little Swans from Swan Lake. Nutcracker Suite. DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. BERLIOZ: Ballet of the Sylphes.
Symphony Orch/Leopold Stokowski, cond.
CALA CACD 0547 TT: 72:44

SCHOENBERG: Transfigured Night, Op. 4. SCRIABIN: The Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54. The Poem of Fire, Op. 60
New York Philharmonic/Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond.
BEARAC BRC 2962 TT: 65:28

SVETLANOV: Symphony No. 1 in B minor, Op. 13. Poem for Violin and Orchestra. The Red Guelder-rose (Symphonic Poem). Piano Concerto in C minoir. Preludes (Symphonic Reflectionsn). Daybreak in the Field (Symphonic Picture). Three Russian Songs for Voice and Orchestra. Pictures of Spain (Rhapsody for Large Symphonic Orchestra). Rhapsody No. 2. Russian Variations for Harp and Orchestra. Dougaava (Symphonic Poem). Siberian Fantasy for Large Symphony Orchestra
BOHEME MUSIC SVCO 001/4-004/4 (4 disks) TT: 66:59 /63:40 /61:51 / 33:54
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DGG has reissued Leonard Bernstein's live New York Philharmonic concert recordings of Tchaikovsky made in 1986-1989, including as well his 1984 Israel Philharmonic recordings of the composer's music made in 1984. The New York recordings were made in Avery Fischer Hall and the close-up miking eliminates what little hall resonance was there—these are well-balanced, if bass-shy recordings. The set, issued at budget price, is worth owning for the conductor's incredibly powerful concept of Symphony No. 6. This is the longest recording ever made of the work primarily because of the final movement, almost twice as long as any other, a valid interpretive choice that brings new meaning to this music. Sonic quality also disappoints on the Israel recordings made in Tel Aviv's Frederic R. Mann Auditorium—the sound picture is very clear, but dry and with little bass impact, even in the cannon shots at the end of 1812. Bernstein recorded all of this music years earlier with the NYP available at budget price on Sony, with sonic quality superior to the later DGG recordings.

Surely there are no problems with sonic quality on Solti's Vienna Wagner collection. The conductor was in the process of completing his Decca recording of Wagner's Ring when he made most of these recordings in Vienna's Sofiensaal in October 1961; Siegfried Idyll was recorded in November 1965. Spectacular playing by the Vienna Philharmonic distinguishes these performances, with the rousing brass we can expect from this conductor. No question, this is one of the finest Wagner collections in the catalog.

Cala has a special issue to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the birth of Leopold Stokowski (1882), and the 30th Anniversary of his death in 1977. Presented in association with the Leopold Stokowski Society and sponsored by this admirable group, this CD is devoted to recordings made 1949-1950 with a high-quality although rather small orchestra comprised of the finest players in the New York area. This CD contains all music on the LP called The Heart of the Ballet supplemented by music from Nutcracker which would not fit on the original LP. Cala gives much information about solo performers in these recordings and mention the flute soloist in this 1949 performance of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is John Wummer although Oliver Daniel's Stokowski book states Julius Baker was in this recording (as well as Stokowski's 1959 version of the work)—however Cala had access to RCA's original personnel list that indicates John Wummer. Regardless of Baker or Wummer, the playing is remarkably fine. All fascinating listening on this CD, and what a pleasure it is to hear these fine performances minus the LP crackle that marred every copy of the LP I've ever heard. Again, our thanks to Cala for an important issue.

The private label Bearac again does a great favor for collectors with this issue of famous Columbia recordings by Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic. Schoenberg's Transfigured Night was recorded in stereo March 3, 1958 in the 30th Street Studios in New York; the two Scriabin symphonic poems were recorded monophonically in the ballroom of St. George Hotel in Brooklyn April 20, 1953. Mitropoulos was a specialist in this repertory, and Ecstasy is distinguished by William Vacchiano's solo trumpet, with Leonid Hambro as pianist in Prometheus. I hadn't heard this recording of Poem for many years and was surprised to find that Mitropoulos virtually eliminates the written pause before the final pages. Check out the extended review of recordings of this work on this site (SCRIABIN FEATURE). Bearac's transfers are superb, and these fine performances are welcome additions to the CD catalog. To get these, and for information on other unique issues on this label, visit BEARAC REISSUES

Evgeny Svetlanov (September 6, 1928 - May 3, 2002) has left an impressive legany of superb recordings, mostly of Russian repertory. However, he considered himself to be a composer rather than a performer (in addition to his conducting, he also was a pianist and singer as well as a journalist). Boheme has issued a 4-CD set of music of Svetlanov conducted by the composer, recordings made from 1954-1978 all with Russian orchestras. Svetlanov's music has a very Russian flavor, on occasion suggesting Rachmaninoff or Scriabin, two composers whose music he recorded to great acclaim. The major work is Svetlanov's Symphony in B minor, composed in 1956, which he considered to be his finest composition although it seems unlikely any other conductor would champion the rather sprawling 48-minute work. More convincing are a number of colorful symphonic poems, the Poeme for Violin and Orchestra written in memory of David Oistrakh with Igor Oistrakh as soloist, and a 21-minute Piano Concerto in C Minor heard with the composer as soloist and Maxim Shostakovich on the podium. Remastering of the original recordings has been very well accomplished, and this collection surely is of interest to collectors.

R.E.B. (January 2008)