52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



CD, MP3 & FLAC: Pristine Audio

Stokowski - Acoustic Volume 1
Johannes BRAHMS

Hungarian Dance no.5 in G minor (1869) [2:53]
Hungarian Dance no.6 in D (1869) [3:05]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Anitra’s dance from Peer Gynt suite no.1, op.46 (1888) [3:11]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Menuetto from Symphony no.40 in G minor, K550 (1788) [4:00]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Invitation to the dance, J260 (arr. Weingartner) (1811) [4:45]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Allegretto scherzando from Symphony no.8 in F, op.93 (1814) [4:06]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser overture (Dresden version) (1845) [13:03]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Fireworks, op.4 (1909) [3:35]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)
Gavotte from Mignon (1866) [1:54]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Dance of the tumblers from The snow maiden (1882) [3:43]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Waltz from Faust (1859) [3:07]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Festive march from Tannhäuser (1845) [4:18]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Firebird suite (1919) [16:20]
Anatoly LIADOV (1855-1914)
Dance of the Amazon, op.65 (1910) [2:37]
The Philadelphia Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
rec. 24 October 1917 (Brahms), 8 November 1917 (Grieg), 9 May 1919 (Mozart and Weber), 20 May 1920 (Beethoven), 7 November and 5 December 1921 (Wagner overture), 6 November 1922 (Stravinsky Fireworks), 6 March 1923 (Thomas), 19 March 1923 (Rimsky-Korsakov), 1 May 1923 (Gounod), 28 April 1924 (Wagner march), 13 October 1924 (Stravinsky Firebird and Liadov); venues not specified

Experience Classicsonline

I’ll be honest. If I had heard this disc without knowing in advance that it was conducted by Leopold Stokowski, it would probably have seemed no more than a rather eclectic collection of orchestral “pops”. While clearly performed with great competence and even flair, these recordings are so inevitably compromised by the technological limitations of the time (1917-1924) as to be of negligible artistic significance.

So does the fact that I now know it to have been conducted by one of the half dozen or so of the greatest practitioners of the twentieth century alter its significance? Well, I think that it probably does, if not necessarily for the obvious reasons.

As is well appreciated, the acoustic technology of the early and mid-1920s was generally unable to cope with recording anything other than severely reduced orchestral forces. Moreover, its perceived inability to record certain timbres – though actually, as we now appreciate, rather the fault of deficiencies in the reproducing equipment of the time – often led producers to interfere, sometimes quite drastically, with the balance of orchestral forces. As a result, there was far less opportunity for conductors to record anything on disc that resembled an accurate sonic profile of their orchestras – and that was a particularly significant limitation for Stokowski who had already done a great deal to nurture and establish his characteristic “Philadelphia sound” in the concert hall.

In fact, as I have previously pointed out elsewhere (see here) while the soon-to-be-introduced electrical recording technology offered all conductors a greater chance to shine, it gave especially significant opportunities to Stokowski. Fortuitously – and increasingly, as the new technology developed even further – it flattered his own preferred sound picture. Thus, the contrast between these acoustic recordings and the electrical recordings of just a few years later is arguably greater in his case than with almost any other of his contemporaries.

So, is there any reason whatsoever to value these recordings? Ought we not simply to consign them to the dustbin of history and to concentrate instead on listening to the slightly later recordings that more accurately preserve the sounds that Stokowski was actually making in the concert hall?

While that argument may have a certain logic to it, there is, in fact, a great deal to enjoy here, once one accepts as inevitable the artistic compromises that were necessary to set down these recordings at all.

The most enjoyable recordings for me were the ones in which Stokowski goes typically over the top. The Weber Invitation to the dance is, for instance, tremendous fun, with accomplished contributions from a solo cellist and bassoonist and a wonderfully foot-tapping - and very much of its era - oom-pah-pah rhythm underscoring the waltz section. Gounod’s Faust waltz is also given with huge flair and panache, while the fifth and sixth of Brahms’s Hungarian dances exhibit some very exciting volatility and the Philadephia Orchestra’s portamento string playing has a suitably “gypsy” sound.

The Russian repertoire is generally successful, too. The Rimsky-Korsakov – a composer for whom his repeated recordings of Scheherazade indicate that Stokowski had a special affection – is vigorous and full of flair; Liadov’s piece makes an impact in spite of its brief duration; and the Stravinsky – pretty adventurous programming for the time, given the innate conservatism of the record-buying public – also comes off well in spite of sonic limitations that prevent the Firebird finale, for instance, from making its real impact.

Elsewhere, however – in the Wagner extracts, the Grieg, the Beethoven, the Thomas and a singularly heavy-footed Mozart - Stokowski can be surprisingly “straight”, not to say quite bland, in his interpretations, so that one suspects that his heart may not have been quite so fully engaged for those sessions.

These are valuable historical documents – perhaps just as much for what they show that Stokowski wasn’t doing at this period of his career as for what he was. For largely technical reasons, up as far as 1924 he simply wasn’t able to utilise the recording medium to his advantage in the way that he could just a few years later.

As such, therefore, the cover image of Stokowski on this disc has been judiciously selected. Here for once we don’t see the wild haired, inspired mesmerist of the 1930s and beyond. Instead, there is a rather neatly dressed young man, very much a product of his time and still awaiting the opportunity to create a unique and immortal position for himself in the history of recorded music.

Rob Maynard


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.