MOZART: Overture to The Impresario, K. 486 (rec. c. 1947). PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf (with Lauritz Melchior) (rec. June 19, 1949). SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54 (rec. Aug. 15, 1943). TCHAIKOVSKY: Miniature March from Suite No. 1, Op. 43 (rec. March 13, 1957). DEBUSSY: Festivals (rec. March 13, 1957). J.S.BACH-CAILLIET: Fugue in G minor (rec. Nov. 29, 1957).
NBC Symphony Orch (Mozart, Prokofiev); New York Philharmonic (Shostakovich); Chicago Symphony Orch (Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Bach)/Fritz Reiner, cond.
GUILD GHCD 2333 (M) TT: 77:37
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PROKOFIEV: Inferno, Prince and Princess, and March from The Love for Three Oranges (rec. Nov. 18, 1941, City Center, New York). MacDOWELL: Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23 Frances Nash, pianist/finale not broadcast (April 7, 1942, Studio 8H). BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 (Nov. 18, 1942, New York City Center). TAYLOR: Introduction and Ballet Music from Act III of Ramuntcho (Dec. 26, 1943, Studio 8H).
NBC Symphony Orch (Mozart/Prokofiev); New York Philharmonic (Shostakovich); Chicago Symphony Orch (Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Bach)/Fritz Reiner, cond.
GUILD GHCD 2335 (M) TT: 73:52
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. MUSSORGSKY: Prelude to Act IV of Khovanshchina. WAGNER: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. DEBUSSY: Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun.
Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orch (May 20, 1955)/Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orch (May 31, 1955) (Debussy); Leopold Stokowski, cond.
GUILD GHCD 2329 (M) TT: 76:50
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BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68. "Pastorale"(Feb. 7, 1957). Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93 (May 17, 1956). Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" (May 17, 1956).
Gre Brouwenstein, soprano; Annie Hermes, mezzo-soprano; Ernst Haefliger, tenor; Hans Wilbrink, bass; Amsterdam Toonkunst Choir; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Otto Klemperer, cond.
GOP 77.402 (2 disks) (F) TT: 139:08
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GLUCK: Alceste Overture. SCHUBERT: Overture to Rosamunde. Symphony No. 9 in C.
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Willem Mengelberg, cond.
OPUS KURA OPK 2071 (F) TT: 68:19
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Guild's Fritz Reiner CD is valuable displaying the Hungarian conductor at his mercurial best, opening with a vigorous performance of Mozart's Impresario overture. The featured work is Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6 with the New York Philharmonic performance from a broadcast August 15, 1943; two years later he recorded this music with the Pittsburgh Symphony. The gem is the performance of Peter and the Wolf from an NBC broadcast of June 19, 1949 with none other than heldentenor Lauritz Melchior as narrator (!) Obviously everyone is having a great time, and Melchior puts on a delightful characterization. This performance for some reason does not include the introduction of the characters and their musical representation. Tchaikovsky's little march is willfully played, Debussy's Festivals are frantic indeed, and the Bach arranged by Cailliet is appropriately grand—at least from what can be heard on these rather distorted, thin Chicago broadcasts—it may be hard to believe that at this same time (1957) the CSO was making some of their sonic blockbuster recordings under Reiner. This mid-priced CD is worth owning just for the Prokofiev.

Guild also has two new Stokowski disks. One contains a complete concert recorded in Frankfurt May 31, 1956, all repertory the conductor has recorded many times before. The other is of more interest as it offers, in addition to the fastest performance of the Symphony No. 4 of Brahms, two works Stokowski never recorded commercially: the first two movements of MacDowell's Piano Concerto No. 2 (the third was not played possibly because of broadcast time limitations). Nothing is said about the soloist—Frances Nash—could she have been the wife of poet and wit Ogden Nash? Also we have the Introduction and Ballet Music from Act III of Deems Taylor's opera Ramuntcho. This doesn't amount to much, and it's difficult to understand why Stokowski bothered with it. The three excerpts from The Love for Three Oranges were released on RCA. Several of Stokowski's spoken introductions are included. All three of these Guild issues are mid-price.

Otto Klemperer's mighty live Beethoven performances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra have been issued before; here we have Nos. 6, 8 and 9 from concerts in 1956 and 1967. Music & Arts has issued Nos. 6 and 9 (see REVIEW), Guild is more generous: instead of Gre Brouwenstein's Ah, Perfido, we have Symphony No. 8 from the same concert as the Ninth, May 17, 1956. Both sets are full-price.

Opus Kura, a Japanese company that specializes in historic reissues, has a Mengelberg CD containing Gluck's Alceste Overture (a Decca recording made in 1935—the same label also recorded this music in 1949 with Eduard van Beinum conducting) , and Schubert's Rosamunde overture and Symphony No. 9, recorded by Telefunken in 1938 and 1942. This seems to be the only available Mengelberg recording of Symphony No. 9 and as such is of interest; previous issues, including a live performance, have long disappeared from the catalog. Sound is fine on this disk, unlike the sonic disaster of their Toscanini Saint-Saëns/Elgar CD (see REVIEW).

R.E.B. (May 2008)