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Orchestral Transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski
Patrick Addinall (trumpet: Clarke), Cynthia Millar (ondes martenot: Buxtehude)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Matthias Bamert
rec. 1993-2004
CHANDOS CHAN10900 [80:19]

Chandos issued albums devoted to Stokowski’s transcriptions over a number of years. They tended to be monothematic single discs, devoted to a single composer, such as Stokowski’s Mussorgsky or Wagner but there was also the ’Symphonic baroque’ album, which mopped up a lot of disparate material. Given the conductor-arranger’s own extensive and oft-revisited repertoire, for different labels, many of the pieces on Matthias Bamert’s series of discs could be compared and contrasted, interpretatively at least, if not sonically, with the originals. Having exhausted their series Chandos now revisits it, to present a highlights album called ‘The Art of Orchestral Transcription’ in performances culled from the years 1993-2004.

Half the repertoire is from Stokowski’s well-tilled Baroque repertory, and opening with the Toccata and Fugue offers an expected but nevertheless still sonically spectacular entrée. The luscious gravity of Byrd’s Pavane and Gigue was saucily appropriated from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book whilst Patrick Addinall takes centre-stage in the Trumpet Prelude, which is to say Jeremiah Clarke’s The Prince of Denmark’s March. Or, if you’re decidedly stricken in years and still regularly buff up your treasured shellac and sharpen your thorns, Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary. The use of the ondes martenot in Buxtehude’s Sarabande and Courante imparts a decidedly Adams Family spookiness to proceedings but Wachet auf restores the sense of voluptuousness that was very much a Stokowski quality. There’s an eloquent cello soloist in Purcell’s Dido’s Lament – and admirers of Stokowski might already know that his Philadelphian colleague, Frenchman Lucien Cailliet crafted his own arrangement – indeed a Dido suite - which the Philadelphians recorded. It can be found on Pristine Audio.

The sombre arrangement of the equally sombre Funeral March from Chopin’s B flat minor Sonata is much less often encountered whereas Rondo alla Turca offers some very light relief. Panis angelicus is ripely played, the full production number sonics imparting a deeply religiose quality to the performance – a bit too much, all things considered – but Shostakovich’s ridiculously perky United Nations March offers altogether more frivolous pleasures. A Night on the Bare Mountain was one of Stokokwski’s showpieces and Bamert brings much of the same commitment to this performance. To end with The Stars and Stripes Forever certainly ends this compilation on a high.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Simon Thompson

J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 [10:00]
William Byrd (c. 1540-1623): Pavane and Gigue [4:40]
J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Aria (‘Air on the G String’) [5:50]
Jeremiah Clarke (c. 1674-1707): Trumpet Prelude (‘The Prince of Denmark’s March’) [2:45]
J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring [3:06]
Dieterich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707): Sarabande and Courante [4:39]
J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Wachet auf [4:04]
Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1810-1849): Marche funèbre [6:59]
Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Dido's Lament [3:59]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Turkish March [2:47]
César Franck (1822-1890): Panis angelicus [3:45]
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): United Nations March [2:29]
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881): A Night on Bare Mountain [10:13]
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): Andante cantabile [7:50]
Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935): In the Manger [2:51]
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932): The Stars and Stripes Forever [3:27]



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