LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI - PHASE FOUR RECORDINGS"
DECCA 483 250( 23 disks)

CD 1 "Inspiration" (New Symphony Orchestra / Norman Luboff Choir)
CD 2 RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade
CD 3 MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition DEBUSSY: The Engulfed Cathedral.
CD 4 TCHAIKOVSKY: Suites from Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.
CD 5 VIVALDI: The Four Seasons (Hugh Bean, violin).
CD 6 WAGNER: Orchestral excerpts
CD 7 TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5
CD 8 HANDEL: Messiah Excerpts
CD 9 STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite. MUSSORGSKY: Night on the Bare Mountain. TCHAIKOVSKY: Marche slave.
CD 10 BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9
CD 11 BERLIOZ: Sym
phonie fantastique.
CD 12 TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture MUSSORGSKY: Symphonic synthesis from Boris Godunov.
CD 13 TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Festival Overture. BORODIN: Polovtsian Dances. STRAVINSKY: Pastorale.
CD 14 BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5. SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8
CD 15 IVES: Orchestral Set No. 2. MESSIAEN: L'Ascension. DEBUSSY: La Mer. RAVEL: Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2 .
CD 16 FRANCK: Symphony in D minor. RAVEL: Fanfare for L'Evantail de Jeanne.
CD 17/18 - WAGNER: Prelude to Die Meistersinger. DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. GLAZUNOV: Violin Concerto (Silvia Marcovici). BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 "Encores" short works by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Schubert, Purcell and Byrd.
CD 19 - ELGAR: Enigma Variations. Serenade for Strings. Elegy.
CD 20 - BACH-STOKOWSKI: Orchestral works
CD 21 - SCRIABIN: Le Poème de extase RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Capriccio espagnole. DVORAK: Slavonic Dance , Op. 72 No. 2.
CD 22 - BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7. Egmont Overtur
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Decca created an audio sensation when they introduced their Phase Four Recordings in 1961. The technique favored a close-up audio picture and exaggerated stereo separation, particularly appropriate for pop music. Decca already has issued a 45-dus set if all of all of the Phase Four recordings (REVI\EW). This new set features all of the Phase Four recordings made by Leopold Stokowski from 1964 - 1973. The Maestro was fascinated by the recording process, making his first recordings in 1917 . He probably was intrigued by the hype of Phase Four producer Tony D'Amato, but I cannot imagine he was completely pleased with the results.

Over the years, Decca has been a leader in the recording industry. Already issued are multiple-disk sets called THE DECCA MONO YEARS (53 disks) (RE IEW) and THE DECCA SOUND - ANALOGUE YEAARS (REVIEW). .All of these are remarkable recordings, well-balanced, and present the performances in natural, often thrilling sonics—which often cannot be said of their Phase Four releases,.

For these Phase Four recordings (some of which are live concert performances) a number of different orchestras were used primarily the London Symphony. Also involved were the New Philharmonia Orchestra (3, 4, 5,7, 11 22.), the Czech Philharmonic (19, 21), Suisse Romande Orchestra (12, 20) , the Royal Philharmonic (13), London Philharmonic (14) and the Hilversum Radio Philharmonic (16).

For collectors, main interest here is that we have some music Stokowski never previously recorded: Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, extended excerpts from The Messiah, Ives' Orchestral Set No,. 2, L'Ascension by Messiaen, Glazunov violin concerto. Elgar's Enigma Variations and Serenade, Debussy's La Mer and the second suite from Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe

There are some strange moments. Daphnis and Chloe is presented with chorus (from the London Symphony) , and at the end after the final note, the chorus has their own loud concluding note, surely not in Ravel's score. The chorus is heard more effectively in the Borosin. 1812 is given a vigo4ous, dynamic performance assisted by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, the Royal Philharmonic Chorus and the Welsh National l Opera Chorus. The famous 1812 ending is loud but blurred. Recorded, distorted cannon are added, and the chorus only is head for about 20 seconds on the last page! If you want to hear this music with chorus, try the famous 1966 Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic version that features the Don Cossack Choir throughout.

A welcome inclusion in this set is a disk called Inspiration. This features hymns, spirituals and other works for chorus and orchestra with Stokowski leading the New Symphony Orchestra of London and the Norman Luboff Choir. The recording, made in 1961, was produced by Charles Gerhardt (of Reader's Digest / Classic Film Scores fame), which explains the splendid stereo sound. This originally was issued on RCA but now, courtesy of Sony, we have it in this new set, and we are delighted to have it! Here is a detailed listing of contents:

BACH: Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring from Cantata 147, Sheep May Safely Graze from Cantata 208. BEETHOVEN: The Heavens Are Telling, Op.48, No.4. GLUCK: Dance of the Blessed Spirits. HANDELL: Largo. HUMPERDINCK: Evening Prayer. RACHMANINOV: Vocalise. TCHAIKOVSKY: Pater Noster. WAGNER Pilgrim's chorus. HYMN Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. SPIRITUAL Deep River

Disk 15 is poorly labeled: nowhere on the CD jacket (which is the original of the Ives / Messiaen release) does not indicate the disk also contains other music: Debussy's La Mer and the suite from Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe. An extra disk is included, Memoirs, a discussion of Stokowski's career, approach to music and his effect on the world of music. It also includes a 6 min. commentary by Stokowski discussing Mahler.

This set surely is worth investigating unless you already have the big Phase Four set, and it is issued at budget price.

R.E.B. (February 2018)