This is the third of
CALA’s doggedly reliable NYPO-Stokowski
series. The first two are CACD0533
It should be irresistible to Stokowskians
everywhere even if the Symphony has
been on Sony previously.
The RVW Symphony is
something special. The devil drives
in this blitzkrieg of a performance.
Stokowski takes the orchestra on a breathtaking
ride; a scorching whirlwind. I am not
sure that I like the work quite
this fast although it works outrageously
well in the first movement. The approach
can sound impatient which is fine until
it scouts over detail and feeling in
the bleak finale. This part of the symphony
really needs space and time. Oddly enough
at this speed the chilly Holstian Saturn-like
echoes are more evident than ever; try
track 4 at 3:00. Not ideal then but
a counter-blast to the precious and
Stokowski also takes
things fast in this Romeo and Juliet
but is more pliable with more of
a sense of give and take. He achieves
a lively correspondence of speed and
message; responsive, supple and volatile.
This proves a flammable mixture which,
while not at the fever pitch achieved
by Monteux with the LSO in Vienna in
the early 1960s (Vanguard), is certainly
exciting. Cala achieve a good open sound
superior to that in the Vaughan Williams.
The sensual accelerations of harp and
strings at 8.20 are marvellous and listen
to those spitting mitrailleuse trumpets
at 14.19. There is a magician’s art
in the invocation of flames that play
over the last pages. Golovanov might
well have approved if he could have
got over Stokowski’s capitalist credentials.
Stokowski rips and
flails through the Haffner in
a major antidote to exaggerated sepulchral
reverence. It still has tenderness but
this is virile ‘speed merchant’ Mozart.
The whole symphony is over in just over
a quarter of an hour. It would be instructive
for Mozart devotees to hear this set
in an evening of Haffners conducted
by Pinnock, Böhm, Karajan and Walter.
The Menuetto-Trio is too fast but the
Finale-Presto flies by in an exhilaration
of greased lightning - like a supercharged
Nozze di Figaro overture.
The Scott piece is
introduced by the composer in a placid,
confident and completely unbombastic
tone. Much the same can be said of his
From the Sacred Harp which is
pacific in inclination, calming, meditative,
referring to spirituals in a naturalistic
low-key way that links with Copland
at one node and the pastoral Vaughan
Williams (Dives and Lazarus and
Fifth Symphony) at the other. This is
taken from a V-Disc the inset label
of which is reproduced in the booklet.
This track is plagued with some wow
- unfortunate on a work that has such
long singing lines with prominence for
the voices of the violins and the woodwind.
It is clearly a delightful novelty and
could enrich the repertoire of any orchestra
if only the performing materials could
Lastly comes Weinberger’s
orchestral diptych. The music is characteristically
cheeky and rambunctious. The whole opera
was recorded complete on CBS Masterworks
CD7934 back in 1981 when Heinz Wallberg
conducted a Bavarian production in Munich.
Such a pity that it is no longer available.
This present track was unfortunately
afflicted with what sounded uncommonly
like a repeating groove. You are advised
to check your copy in the shop. If the
problem is there at all you will encounter
it in the last few minutes of the Weinberger.
The notes are by Richard
This is a collection
brimful of Stokowski’s confident, irreverent,
personable and intensely idiosyncratic