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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider


BRAHMS Complete Edition
58CD £95.22


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

AVAILABILITY Pristine Classical
Available as CD or mp3 or FLAC download

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868): Prelude to Act 3 [6:47]
Tannhäuser (1845): Overture and Venusberg Music [22:58]
Tristan und Isolde (1865): Prelude and Liebestod [16:36]
Die Walküre (1870): Ride of the Valkyries [5:25]
NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini
rec. live, Studio 8H, New York, 28 November 1943.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC078 [52:02]


Toscanini was unquestionably one of the very greatest of Wagner conductors. It is a matter of immense regret that although his equally important mastery in Verdi and Puccini was captured on disc in the form of complete operas, however inadequately, the same did not occur with his Wagner. We therefore have to make do in general with a series of fragments which in some cases, such as the “Tristan und Isolde” Prelude, he recorded many times. All of the items on this disc fall into this category although I have not been able to compare these performances with others already available. What we have here appears to be the complete broadcast of 28 November 1943, with at least a taste of the original broadcast commentary and applause. The commentary does indeed slightly intrude into the start of the “Tannhäuser” excerpts which may be one reason why this concert has apparently not been subject to recent attention in terms of reissue. The main reason, however, according to Pristine Audio, was the various interruptions from other stations on the original recording. These have been wholly eliminated here.
 
I do not pretend to understand the various ways in which the company claim to produce remasterings superior to those of others in this field. Whereas I have previously listened to comparable items recorded by these musicians in this notorious studio out of duty rather than pleasure, here I have found myself very quickly adjusting to and even enjoying the sound. It is certainly still dry, but no more so that one hears in many opera houses. This is surely preferable in Wagner to too resonant an acoustic. The result is that it is possible to appreciate without reservation the wonderful lyricism of these performances. They seem spontaneous and unforced, with no hint of the turgid or routine. The “Tannhäuser” excerpts for instance have a freshness deriving clearly from Weber and even Mendelssohn, and the nobility of the Prelude to Act 3 of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” has wonderful eloquence. I am no great fan of “bleeding chunks”, and I still find the Ride of the Valkyries hard to take out of context, but I am very happy to make an exception in this case.
 
All in all, this is a very worthwhile and well produced issue, even if like others from this company there are no notes on the music or performance (see below). The duration is on the short side, but this is no drawback if the items are obtained as individual downloads.
 
John Sheppard
 
Editor's note - no original sleeve notes are available, since this was not a commercially released recording; general notes on the operas (from Wikipedia) available online at the Pristine website



 


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