STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite. ENESCU: Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A. Rumanian Rhapsody No. 2 in D. DEBUSSY: Nocturnes
Robert Shaw Chorale of Women's Voices (Debussy); Symphony Orch; All-American Youth Orch (Wagner)/Leopold Stokowski, cond.
CALA CD CACD0549 (F) TT: 75:38

BERLIOZ: Requiem, Op. 5.
Keith Ikaia-Purdy, tenor; Dresden Chorus/Singakademie; Dresden Symphony Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.
PROFIL PH007014 (F) (2 disks) TT: 90:00

London Symphony Orch/Sir Dan Godfrey, cond.
SYMPOSIUM 1377 (F) TT: 60:31

FRITZ BUSCH - Complete Dresden recordings + DVD documentary "I Left the Rostrum"
Dresden State Orch/Fritz Busch, cond.
PROFIL PH07032 (3 disks + DVD) TT: 62:47 + 60:56 + 38:14 +95min. documentary

Cala's latest Stokowski reissue is rightfully called "The Eternal Magician," and makes available many recordings long treasured by collectors. What a pleasure it is to hear these 1953 recordings of Enescu's Rumanian Rhapsodies, which I once owned on LPs that soon became very crackly—great to hear them in these pristine transfers (they also are available from Bearac—see REVIEW). As was his habit, Stokowski omits the final chord of the first rhapsody—can anyone explain why? We also have the sixth of the conductors eight recordings of Firebird, made in 1950, and his second recording of the complete Debussy Nocturnes from 1950. A considerable "bonus" is the first release of a unique recording of Ride of the Valkyries made in l941 with the All-American Youth Orchestra. This series of recordings was labeled "left" and "right" with each disk having its own microphone, which does give a mild binaural stereo effect. Sony BMC Archives engineer Matt Cavaluzzo was able to synchronize the two perfectly, and this is a welcome addition to the catalog.

Sir Colin Davis is a master interpreter of the massive Berlioz Requiem, Op. 5. His 1970 London recording has been issued on four-channel SACD (REVIEW), and remains the finest of this magnificent score, although collectors surely are interested in the 1943 pioneering recording conducted by Jean Fournet (REVIEW). Profil's new issue is a performance presented at a memorial concert February 14, 1994 in Dresden's Kreuzkirche dedicated to victims of the destruction of Dresden February 13-14, 1945. Sir Colin Davis, who is honorary conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle, gives the expected masterful interpretation, with tempi virtually identical to those of his recording made a quarter-century earlier. Erich Götze and Manfred Weber were in charge of the recording and did a splendid job of capturing the spacious acoustics of the church. It's unfortunate this wasn't done in surround sound, but what is heard here is impressive sonically.

Also intriguing is Symposium's issue of Vaughan Williams' A London Symphony which contains some music deleted by the composer and, according to CD notes, not heard elsewhere. The first and third movements were recorded on four acoustic record sides July 24, 1923, and the second recording, on twelve sides, was made April 24 and May 1, 1925. Lewis Foreman, who knew Vaughan Williams, wrote the detailed notes accompanying this CD explaining all of the cuts, where they were made, and where listeners can find the six bars that were cut after this recording and where to find them (track 4: 9:40). These are acoustic recordings and sound like it, but their historic importance is infinite.Check out R.D.'s comprehensive review of the late Richard Hickox's recording of this symphony on Chandos (REVIEW).

Another winner is Profil's 3-disk CD set (plus DVD) devoted to the complete Dresden recordings of conductor Fritz Busch (1890 - 1951). Busch was a major German conductor of his time who held major posts at Aachen, Stuttgart and Dresden. His outspoken disapproval of the Nazis forced his departure from the latter city, not returning until the year of his death. While in Dresden, Busch conducted premieres of operas by Strauss, Busoni, Weill, and Hindemith. CD1 consists of acoustic recordings made in 1923, overtures of Mozart, Smetana, Johann Strauss, von Suppé and other short works by Weber, Mendelssohn, Gluck, Mozart, Bizet, Wagner and Tchaikovsky. CD2 features electric recordings made in 1926 (all in superb sound) with some fascinating repertory: excerpts from Puccini's Turandot sung in German with magnificent soprano Anne Roselle in the title role, orchestral excerpts from Verdi's La forza del destino, Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture recorded in 1932, and excerpts from Strauss's The Egyptian Helen recorded in Berlin with Rose Pauly Dreesen in spectacular form. CD3 contains but one work: Symphony No. 2 of Brahms, a live broadcast from Berlin's Philharmonie in 1931. The 95-minute DVD is fascinating, outlining in eight sections the career of the composer, the dramatic story of his ouster from the Opera just before a performance of Rigoletto, the history of the German premiere of Turandot, and much commentary on the change from acoustic to electric recording, all wonderfully presented with commentary in German and English subtitles. A handsome profusely illustrated 190-page booklet accompanies the set, in German and English. A fascinating issue! Admirers of this conductor also should investigate EMI's 2-CD set of non-Dresden recordings (REVIEW).

R.E.B. (January 2009).