> Stokowski'd Symphonic Baroque CHAN 9930 [JP]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)

Suite from The Water Music *
Dead March from Saul *

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c1637 – 1707)

Sarabande and Courante *

Antonio CESTI (1623 – 1669)

Tu mancavi a tormentarmi, crudelissima speranza

Henry PURCELL (1659 – 1695)

Suite *

Tomas Luis de VICTORIA (1548 – 1611)

Jesus dulcis memoria *

William BYRD (1543 – 1623)

Pavane and Gigue

Arcangelo CORELLI (1653 – 1713)

Adagio (from Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 5) *

Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714 – 1787)

Sicilienne (from Armide)

Antonio VIVALDI (1678 – 1741)

Concerto Grosso No. 11 in D minor (from Op. 3)

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra – Matthias Bamert.
recorded 29/2 and 1/3/2000 in Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester.
CHANDOS CHAN 9930 [76.02]


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We are told that this is to be the last disc in this series from Chandos of transcriptions by Leopold Stokowski of works by different composers. Where in previous issues we have had Mussorgsky, Wagner, Bach and a disc of encores, this disc concentrates on a variety of composers from the Baroque period.

There are some world premieres on this disc and whilst I probably wouldn’t always want to listen straight through, it is a wonderful source of short pieces which can be dipped into as required, and will surely give a lot of pleasure.

Matthias Bamert’s work for Chandos is well known and he is a prominent conductor for a variety of their series, most of which are be first class. This disc is no exception. The playing of the BBC Philharmonic is absolutely superb and Chandos’s recording well up to the normal house standard.

Are there any criticisms to be levelled at this release? Two minor niggles which have to be put to bed first – In some of the pieces, (for example in the final Allegro "Alla Hornpipe" of the suite from Handel’s Water Music), the playing of the whoops in the horns seem a little too calculated. I am sure that Stokowski would have made more of these than as heard here, where they sound a little too perfect, thus robbing the music of some spontaneity. This will always be an issue for a conductor trying to perform music, the style of which is so familiar when conducted by Stokowski himself.

The second minor niggle concerns the programme itself, where the second half is predominantly slow and quiet – the overall effect is somewhat soporific, but this can easily be overcome by "dipping."

There are no holds barred when it comes to the orchestration, and while I miss some of the splashes of sound that characterise some of his Bach and more modern (e.g. Debussy) composer’s transcriptions, there is no shortage of interest here. I wonder what Buxtehude would have said on hearing the ondes martenot, for example.

Perhaps this is the reason for Chandos saying enough is enough – we may be running out of transcriptions of the old master to record, and that is partly the reason for the comments I have made about the disc.

A first class continuation and end to the series. If you have been collecting these as they have been released you may go ahead without any concerns – it is well up to the standard of its predecessors and you will enjoy it make no mistake.


John Phillips

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