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.