One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
51,000 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

TROUBADISC

colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
Vivaldi
9 cello sonatas
Dussek
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley n/a
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!


Quite splendid


Winning performances


Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc


a huge talent


A wonderful disc


Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!


Roth’s finest Mahler yet


Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Stokowski - Gala Night at the Opera
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Rienzi – Overture [11:52]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Le nozze di Figaro – Non più andrai† [3:57]
Alexander BORODIN [1833-1887)
Prince Igor – No rest, no peace (in Russian)† [8:16]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Faust – Vous qui faites l’endormie† [2:59]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca – Vissi d’arte* [3:41]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida – Duet Act III: Ciel mio padre*† [8:26]
Richard WAGNER
Lohengrin – Prelude Act I [9:19]
Götterdämmerung – Brünnhilde’s Immolation (Final Scene)* [18:47]
Birgit Nilsson (soprano) *; George London (baritone) †
Philadelphia Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
rec. live, stereo broadcast, 20 January 1962, Academy of Music, Philadelphia. ADD
GUILD GHCD2410 [77:07]

This radio transmission is a memento from 1962 of the gala concert given annually in honour of the Philadelphia Academy of Music. It is in excellent sound for a live broadcast of its age and comes complete with linking radio announcements. After re-mastering the only defects are the occasional minor tape fade, some slight hiss and at first some “fizz” which fades as the concert progresses. The announcer advises his listeners that they might hear a different sound to the orchestral balance as a result of Stokowski’s unusual reconfiguration of seating of the strings all massed to the left. The woodwinds and timpani are on the right and the brass in the centre. This certainly lends greater immediacy and impact to the latter.

Given the scarcity of opera recordings by Stokowski, this souvenir becomes a desirable rarity for his fans; furthermore, it features two great singers of exceptional amplitude of voice, both at the peak of their form. The orchestral standard is very high with only some slightly watery trumpets in the otherwise thrilling “Rienzi” overture. This is followed by an amusing little interlude where Stokowski teases the late-comers admitted after the overture and raises applause.

George London’s magnificent bass-baritone is rather hefty for Mozart by this stage of his career but he makes an imposing sound. The aria from “Prince Igor” indicates that he is clearly more at home in Russian opera, having been the first Westerner to sing Boris Godunov in Moscow two years previously and a regular Amfortas in Bayreuth. He then makes a suitably sardonic and histrionic Méphistophélès. This comes complete with the requisite demonic guffaw, having demonstrated his versatility by singing in three different operatic genres in three different languages. He then gives way to Birgit Nilsson before joining her for the duet from “Aida”. Nilsson sings a vocally impressive but not entirely idiomatic “Vissi d’arte”, culminating in a wonderful top B flat. This is followed by some dodgy intonation in the concluding bars.

Nilsson is not entirely in her element in the Verdi, tending to swoop and lose firmness as she tries to soften her naturally hard tone and inject pathos. She matches London for sheer vocal presence and there is no lack of drama or commitment in their partnership.

Following a poised account of the “Lohengrin” Prelude, the concert concludes fittingly with a real stunner: Nilsson in finest voice, absolutely nailing the fearsome demands of her calling-card: Brünnhilde’s Immolation. She launches her famous laser tones skywards yet also exploits the robust resonance of her lower register. Stokowski’s conducting is electrifying throughout the whole programme. He is especially fine at vividly pointing the leitmotif components to create an absorbing narrative, building to a typically energised, technicolor climax.
 
Ralph Moore



 

 



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


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

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
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger