BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E flat "Romantic." (Stuttgart October 22, 1952). Symphony No. 5 in B flat (October 28, 1942). Symphony No. 6 in A (first movement missing) (November 13-16, 1943). Symphony No. 7 in E (Cairo April 23, 1953). Symphony No. 8 in C minor (October 17, 1944). Symphony No. 9 in D minor (October 7, 1944)
Berlin Philharmonic Orch; Vienna Philharmonic Orch (Nos. 4, 8)/Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond.
MUSIC & ARTS CD 1209 (5 disks) TT: 65:55 / 68:50 / 79:50 / 79:09 / 79:11
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BIZET: Symphony in C. L'Arlesienne Suites. DEBUSSY: Children's Corner Suite.
Symphony Orch/Leopold Stokowski, cond.
CALA CD CACD0548 (F) TT: 78:14
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FAURÉ: Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80 (Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano). Masques et Bergamasques, Op. 112 (Nicolai Gedda, tenor; Ensemble Vocal Alix Bourbon). Shylock, Op. 57. Ballade, Op. 19. Élégie, Op. 24. (Paul Tortelier, cello). Berceuse, Op. 16 (Yan-Pascal Tortelier, violin). Fantaisie, Op. 111 (Jean-Philippe Collard, piano). Les Djinns, Op. 12 (Jean-Philippe Collard, piano/Ensemble Vocal Alix Bourbon). Caligula, Op. 52 (Ensemble Vocal Alix Bourbon). Prélude to Penélope.
Toulouse Capitol Orch/Michel Plasson, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 97722 (2 disks) (B) TT: 67:00 & 70:42
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BACH: Violin Concerto No. 2 in E. MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K. 218. MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E minor, OP. 64.
David Oistrakh, violin; Philadelphia Orch/Eugene Ormandy, cond.
NAXOS 8.111246 (M) TT: 70:18
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"THE STRAUSS FAMILY" Waltz, Polkas, Overtures
Vienna Johann Strauss Orch/Vienna Symphony Orch/Munich Radio Orch/Willi Boskovsky, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 86019 (6 disks) TT: 70:14 / 73:50 / 70:59 / 70:04 / 68:49 / 63:23
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This Bruckner compilation from Music & Arts is of major interest—all of these performances have been issued before, but now they have been remastered via the "revolutionary new harmonic balancing technique." The sound is better than ever, and everything is at correct pitch. This performance of Symphony No. 6 from a series of performances in both Berlin and Vienna in 1943 was the only time Furtwängler conducted the work ;the one heard here is from November of that year. Unfortunately the first movement is missing, apparently lost forever. A major release, a five-CD set that sells for the price of three.

Leopold Stokowski made his first recording of Bizet's Symphony in C in 1952 and two suites from incidental music for L'Arlesienne, issued on an RCA LP (LM 1796). The orchestra was a hand-picked group of the finest musicians available described simply as "Symphony Orchestra." He had recorded brief excerpts from L'Arlesienne with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1922 and 1929, and in 1977 (the year of his death) would record the symphony, the first L'Arlesienne Suite, and three movements of the second. All of the more recent recordings were released with various couplings, and some are still available. Surprisingly, the later recording of the Symphony is faster in each movement; Stokowski, at ninety-five, still had plenty of spirit when he picked up the baton. Cala's disk is filled out with another Stokowski treasure, his 1949 recording of Debussy's Children's Corner Suite. I once owned the original LP issues of these; what a treat it is to hear them in these superb transfers minus surface noise and ticks. Highly recommended!

EMI Classics' Fauré is another rather astonishing compilation. The company enlisted the help of some of their finest artists, so we have the luxury of Frederica von Stade in Pelléas, Nicolai Gedda in Masques et Bergamasques, Jean-Philippe Collard as pianist in both the Fantasie and the unjustly neglected Les Djinns, and cellist Paul Tortelier in two shorter works. Ensemble Vocal Alix Bourbon is heard in the three works in which they are needed. Another plus is inclusion of Caligula, five pieces of incidental music scored for female chorus and orchestra written in 1888 for a production of Dumas' play. All recordings were made 1979-1980, and the remasterings are just fine. There are 10 paragraphs of basic program notes, no texts. This is a budget reissue.

The Naxos Oistrakh CD is a major release offers three of the master violinist's first American recordings, recorded Christmas Eve 1955 (actually there was a fourth work, a Vivaldi Concerto for Two Violins in which Oistrakh was partnered by Isaac Stern; this would not fit onto this CD). Oistrakh already had legendary status, and made his American debut two months earlier in a solo recital. He was already famous for his Russian recordings, but here he was working with one of the finest conductors and orchestras in the world. Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers, taken from the original Columbia mono LPs, are, as usual, first-class. This is another in the Naxos historic series that cannot be purchased in the United States; it's worth your time to investigate European sources for these splendid releases.

Willi Boskovsky's 6-CD EMI Classics set of music of the Strauss family was issued several years ago and inadvertently omitted from review at the time. It is a terrific bargain, containing more than seventy waltzes, polkas and other works by the two Johann Strausses, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss, performed by the Vienna Symphony, the Munich Radio Orchestra and the "Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra," doubtless a pickup group that contained many members of the Vienna Philharmonic. Boskovsky is an old hand at this repertory; these are delightful performances and the recordings, made over a long period of time (1979-1986), are excellent sonically. Limited program notes, but much listening pleasure, and at budget price.

R.E.B. (May 2008)