BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92. BACH-STOKOWSKI: Passacaglia
and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582. MENDELSSOHN: Scherzo from A Midsummer
Dream. GLUCK: Sicilienne from Armide. BEN HAIM: From
Israel - Suite for
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 3 in D. FALLA: Dances from The Three-Cornered
Hat. ROUSSEL: Bacchus et Ariane, Op. 43 (Suite No. 2). MUSSORGSKY-MARKEVITCH:
STRAVINSKY: Violin Concerto. Le sacre du printemps. BARTÓK: Divertimento
for String Orchestra.
STRAUSS: Minuet of Lully/Prelude to Act II (Le Bourgeois
Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome (2 recordings). Don Juan, Op. 20.
Der Rosenkavalier Waltzes. Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
This new CALA CD is the final release in their series of historic performances conducted by Leopold Stokowski released with the cooperation of the Leopold Stokowski Society. This distinguished group was formed in 1979 for the purpose of making available many of the legendary conductor's recordings and live performances, many of which had never before been released. Edward Johnson is to be commended for his work in maintaining the Stokowski legend—he has been invaluable in this important project. CALA has now released a total of 35 CDs of Stokowski performances, many of them from live sources, and all are worthy of inclusion in a serious collector's library. For a complete list of them, go to the Cala WEBSITE
It was discovered that in 1949 a series of recordings was made with the All American Youth Orchestra for Columbia in Hollywood—and the recordings were made with different turntables and two separate microphones. By synchronizing the two it is possible to get a bibnaural effect, heard first in Calla's release of Ride of the Valkyries already released (REVIEW). This new issue contains another binaural recording, the scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Other recordings were made at the time with this same process (including Stravinsky's New York Philharmonic recordings of his own music) but it seems Sony would not release any of these and now has decided to do nothing with them. Very sad, indeed. But we can treasure what we have, and on this well-filled CD we have Stokowski's 1958 recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 with the Symphony of the Air, followed by the Maestro's famous transcription of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (with the International Youth Orchestra, 1969), the Mendelssohn scherzo previously mentioned, Sicilienne from Gluck's Armide (studio orchestra, 1957), and Ben Haim's colorful From Israel Suite (again with the Symphony of the Air, 1959). All of these are first stereo releases on CD. Thank you Cala, the Leopold Stokowski Society, and Edward Johnson for your fine work!
One of the finest issues in Audite's historic reissue series is a disk devoted to Russian conductor Igor Markevitch (1912-1983). Early in his career, Markevitch composed extensively and thanks to the efforts of Naxos and other companies, we now have the opportunity to hear much of his music. Markevitch was recognized as a dynamic conductor, respected both by orchestras and audiences for his non-demonstrative but powerful conducting. On this disk we have live performances with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra beginning with a sprightly performance of Schubert's Symphony No. 3 (March 2, 1953) and dazzling readings of the second suites from Falla's The Three-Cornered Hat (February 27, 1953) and Roussel's Bacchus and Ariadne (March 2, 1953) ballets. Finally, there are six songs of Mussosrgsky orchestrated by Markevitch in 1945 sung by the remarkable soprano Mascia Predit (who had sung the premiere). On this CD we hear a performance from March 6, 1962. This is a treasure, not only for Markevitch's marvelous orchestrations, but for the opportunity to hear the Latvian soprano (b.1912) who was discovered by Chaliapin, gave many concert tours, and recorded with Gerald Moore. In 1971 she appeared in Visconti's film Death in Venice as a Russian tourist who sang, unaccompanied, Mussorgsky's Lullaby. Her voice is extraordinary and she is perfect in the songs heard on this new CD, which are sung in Russian. Oddly, Russian text is not included but translations in German and English are. A fascinating release!
Three intriguing releases by conductor Ferenc Fricsay are found on another Audite CD. Arthur Grumiaux recorded the Stravinsky's Violin Concerto with Ernest Bour and the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1966; on this new CD we hear a performance from a 1951 concert with the Cologne West German Radio Orchestra directed by Fricsay. May 4, 1953 Fricsay conducted the same orchestra in Bartók's Divertimento for String Orchestra, and October 5, 1953 he led them in Sacre. All of this music benefits from Fricsay's strong direction, but this Rite cannot compare with the conductor's March 1954 recording with the RIAS Orchestra (once available on DGG 455 405). The Cologne performance has mediocre sonics, although the concerto and Divertimento are well-balanced mono.
Collectors will welcome Pristine Audio's issue of Richard Strauss conducting his music, the complete British and American recordings made 1921-1926. Mark Obert-Thorn did what could be done with problematic original disks, and CD notes written by him give details of difficulties involved including inaccurate pitch and attempts to resurrect something listenable from released disks which themselves were re-recordings. It's fascinating to hear these relics, including the slightly truncated Don Juan that had to be shortened because of disk side limitations. It us rumored that for this recording Strauss deputized the 20-year old George Szell to conduct, although the label states it is the composer. This is only one of the numerous historic recordings available from www.pristineclassical.com
R.E.B. (October 2009)