HOLST: The Planets, Op 32. BUTTERWORTH: A Shropshire Lad. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS:
Fantasia on Christmas Carols.
SMETANA: The Bartered Bride Overture. Quartet "From
My Life" (orch. Szell). The Moldau. DVORAK: Carnival
Overture. Four Slavonic Dances
Leopold Stokowski, as one might expect, was attracted to Holst's The Planets. He first conducted it in 1934 in Philadelphia when he learned of the composer's death. This release contains his second performance which was with the NBC Symphony after Stokowski had taken over that orchestra from Toscanini. There was a concert February 14, 1943, heard on this fine new release. In addition to The Planets, the concert also included the two works by Butterworth and Vaughn Williams. In 1956 Stokowski made a stereo recording with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which was a bset-seller. The NBC performance is exciting indeed, without the added percussion at the end of Mars heard in the Los Angeles performance. The unidentified womens' chorus is effective, and it is quite amazing that this early recording from Studio 8H sounds as good as it does. Andrew Rose did a superb XS remastering. This Planets was released many years ago on Caa; this new version offers superior sound.
Hungarian-born George Szell considered to be a Czech conductor, was invited by Arturo Toscanini to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra. This welcome disk contains one of those concerts, March 8, 1941, a Dvorak/Smetana program. The major work was Szell's own orchestration of the latter's From My Life quartet. Szell felt that this music needed "a broader horizon" than original scoring coud provide, so he made this appropriate orchestration, which is very effective. The final movement episode as the composer realizes his impending deafness, is powerful indeed in the orchestral version. Szell later would record it with the Cleveland Orchestra. We also have vivid sometimes rather rushed performances of the other familiar works. Szell rushes through most of this music, with exciting resuts. The NBC Symphony is in top form, and Andrew Rose's XR remastering provides a very natural sonic perspective considering that the venue is Studio 8H.
Wilhelm Furtwängler's 1938 EMI recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 has always been a favorite, and now we have the opportunity to hear a live performance of this music from concerts April 19 - 24, 1951 given in Cairo. It is a magnificent performance, and the sound is remarkably clear except for a slightly garbed opening of the third movement. It is coupled with Schumann's Cello Concerto recorded in Berlin October 28, 1942. Soloist is Hungarian cellist Tibor De Machula, who was principal cello of the Berlin Philharmonic 1936 - 1947 after which he assumed that post with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. This is a major recording of the concerto, sounding better here than on previous. This is an important issue for Furtwängler collectors.
R.E.B. (December 2018)