> Leopold Stokowski: Liszt-Sibelius-Tchaikovsky [JW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Peter TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Sleeping Beauty
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) The Swan of Tuonela
Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Les preludes (symphonic Poem No 3)
Leopold Stokowski and his Symphony Orchestra
Recorded December 1947
CALA CACD 0522 [76.56]


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After leaving the Philadelphia, Stokowski recorded with several elite orchestras until it was decided that RCA Victor would set up an ad hoc recording ensemble for him. This was largely composed of members of the NBC and New York Philharmonic Orchestras and was called "Leopold Stokowski and his Symphony Orchestra." He made a very recommendable Haydn Symphony with them (No 53 The Imperial) and explored contemporary Americana with Lou Harrison, Ben Weber and Roger Goeb.

The performances on this CD date from one week in December 1947. This is Stokowski’s only recording of Les Preludes, fiery and kinetic, whereas he recorded the Swan of Tuonela four times between 1929 and 1976. He had some outstanding section leaders in his orchestra for these recordings, not least leader John Corigliano and the co-leaders of the viola section, William Lincer and Walter Trampler. Leonard Rose, no less, led the cellos and we can especially hear Mitchell Miller, whose cor anglais graces and illuminates the Sibelius. This is a good but not exceptional account of The Swan and by no means demonstrably superior to Stokowski’s other commercial traversals. The music for The Sleeping Beauty has been hacked around a fair bit to fit onto Victor set DM 1205 though more than 52 minutes survive and most enjoyable they are. String tone is particularly attractive and responsive, richly nuanced throughout. The sound was always rather splendidly forward on this set and it has emerged well refurbished.

Jonathan Woolf

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