> Stokowski (Ravel-Chopin-Messiaen-Duparc-Franck [JW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Fanfare from L’Eventail de Jeanne
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849) Mazurka in A Minor Op 17 No 4 Orch Stokowski
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) L’Ascension
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933) Extase Orch Stokowski
Cesar FRANCK (1822-1890) Symphony in D Minor
Recorded between 1970 and 1972
London Symphony Orchestra (Chopin, Messiaen, Duparc)
Hilversum Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Ravel, Franck)
Leopold Stokowski conductor
CALA CACD 0525 [74.30]


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Cala continues to preach the Gospel according to Stokowski and does so here with this eclectic French concert (allowing for the geographical inconvenience of Franck’s Belgian birth and Chopin’s Polish). As everywhere Stokowski is a convinced and convincing interpreter but some quirks and idiosyncrasies do co-exist with passionate intensity in the Franck, which is played by the so-called Hilversum Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, rather better known by its real name, the Netherlands Radio Orchestra. For all its faults – of execution, of exaggeration and of effect – I still found it a compelling traversal by the ninety-year-old conductor, though not a centrally necessary addition to the Stokowski Discography.

There is a real sense of convulsed involvement in the Messiaen, of which Stokowski had himself made the first recording, in 1947, with the New York Philharmonic. That the work’s appeal was not one of simply generalized proselytising can easily be ascertained listening to this superlatively played and superbly conducted, rather spotlit, performance. Beyond its intensity lies a kind of devotion not easy to define but nevertheless palpable in every bar.

The three small pieces that make up the mosaic of this disc are imbued variously with Stokowski’s flair, drive and impressionistic impulse. Fine transfers and notes up to the by now expected Edward Johnson standard.

Jonathan Woolf

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