> Stokowski 4 - First Releases [JW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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First Releases

Arr STOKOWSKI (1882-1977) La Marseillaise (de Lisle); Serenade (Schubert)
Joseph La MONACA (?) Saltarello
Leopold STOKOWSKI (1882-1977) Balance Test March
Stephen FOSTER (1826-1864) Oh, Susannah arr Stokowski
G F HANDEL (1685-1759) Pastoral Symphony from Messiah
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome
Peter I TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Solitude
Robert KELLY (?) Sunset reflections from Adirondack Suite
Peter I TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Marche Slave
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Etude in C sharp minor arr Stokowski
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Tyrolean Dances from Deutsche Tanze Op 33 arr Stokowski
Peter I TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Recorded 1927-1944. Previously unreleased.
Philadelphia Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
New York City Symphony Orchestra
Leopold Stokowski
CALA CACD 0502 [76.05]


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"Are you nervous?" Stokowski’s question, addressed to the laughing Philadelphia audience in October 1935 as they launched themselves into a Pension Fund concert singsong of La Marseillaise, might equally well apply to the prospective purchaser of this disc. Though it is a necessarily haphazard compilation this thoroughly engaging CD collates previously unreleased recordings spanning the years 1927-44 and featuring three of the orchestras Stokowski led.

A number of arcane things are here – notably the riotous and shout-strewn Philadelphia Balance Test March composed, if that’s not too strong a word for it, by Stokowski himself. Those of a nervous disposition, harbouring aesthetically unsullied thoughts as to the spiritual purity of that great orchestra, should perhaps programme their CD beforehand to omit track two. More robust listeners will have a good laugh. The Handel, though obviously anachronistic, is a splendid example of the conductor’s maintenance of line and overlapping strings at a slow tempo. We are lucky to have the 1937 recording of the Strauss since so little of Stokowski’s Strauss has survived. This is a valuable addition, excellently recorded, not utterly secure, but perfectly idiomatic. The Tchaikovsky Marche Slave from his trio of recordings here with the NBC Orchestra is a blaring and vigorous outing, maybe too much so for some ears. The longest piece is a Stokowski favourite, Romeo and Juliet, with the quiet ending he advocated. It is otherwise a tremendous performance, and fully worthy to be disinterred here. Elsewhere the arrangements are variously exotically or robustly clothed in Stokowskian garb – enjoy especially the Scriabin – and considering their extreme rarity the copies have survived in remarkably good shape. Kudos to Cala.

Jonathan Woolf

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