BACH: Siciliana (from Sonata No. 4 for violin and piano in C minor, BWV 1017). Mein Jesu, BWV 487. Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582. VIVALDI: Concerto Grosso in D minor, Op. 3 No. 1. CESTI: Tu mancavi a tormentarmi, crudelissima speranza. LULLY: Nocturne from Le Triomphe de l'Amour. March from Thésèe.FRESCOBALDI: Gagliarda. PALESTRINA: Adoramus te. O Bone, Jesu. GABRIELI: Canzon Quarti Toni a 15. In Ecclesis Benedicite Domino.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 391 TT: 75:40
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MAHLER: Symphony No. 9 in D
Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Bruno Walter, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 389 TT: 71:00
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BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73 "Emperor." Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58.
Walter Gieseking, piano; Berlin Reichsnder Orch/Artur Rother, cond. (Concerto No. 5). Philharmonia Orch/Herbert von Karajan.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 390 TT: 68:20
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Arias and duets by Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Bizet, Thomas, Mascagni and Puccini; Italian and English Songs
Toti dal Monte, soprano; various accompaniments
NEWTON CD 8802179 (3 disks) TT: 60:15 + 60:49 + 46:29
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The legion of admirers of Leopold Stokowski will welcome this important issue, the first appearance on CD of the Baroque and Renaissance repertory listed above. Stokowski always had great interest in early music and recorded most of the music on this reissue in the '30s with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Selections on this new issue were recorded 1950-1952 originally issued on two separate LPs. I owned the original diskss and they surely never sounded as radiant as they do here in these masterful versions by Mark Obert-Thorn who has overcome the manifold transfer difficulties with pitch, wow, flutter, hiss and poor splices. This is a valuable addition to the Stokowski discography.

This historic live performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 9, recorded in Vienna January 16, 1938, previously was issued on an imported Naxos disk in a fine transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn. This site recently mentioned a Pristine reissue of Walter's stereo Columbia recordings of Symphonies 1 and 9 (REVIEW). The importance of this 1938 recording is olympian. Walter conducted the world premiere of the symphony in 1912, and this live recording is its first commercial recording. It was an emotional occasion marked by Walter's rather brisk tempi. The Naxos transfer was excellent, but with today's XR remastering it is possible to get more from the grooves, and the music souinds better than ever. Recommended.

This historic live performance of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto was made during a live concert on an unspecified date in August 1944 when the war was raging. If you listen carefully, you can hear far in the distance Royal Airforce Lancaster and Halifax bombers dropping bombs, German anti-aircraft as well. It is a superb performance under any conditions (Gieseking would make a commercial recording in 1951 with Karajan and the Philharmonia Orchestra). This 1944 performance has been issued before, but never sounded as good as it does here in this remastering by Andrew Rose. This was an early experimental "stereo" recording and not a very good one. There is some spread to the sound, but imaging is non-existent. Rose has improved the sound picture somewhat, but there still is no true "stereo" effect, and the heavy resonance of the original recording could not be eliminated. Still, this is one of the great pianists of the time at the height of his powers in a live performance. The CD is filled out with Concerto No. 4 in the 1951 commercial recording, a rather subdued performance that always was disappointing sonically. Here Pristine has done what can be done to improve the sound.

Toti Dal Monte (1893-1975) was an extraordinary Italian opera soprano with a wide range that let her easily sing the most intricate coloratura, much of which is heard on this 3-disk set. Her accuracy and purity of sound are remarkable, often the notes seem to be computer-generated, and she doesn't mind showing off how long she can sustain a note. A legendary soprano of her era, she was a favorite of Arturo Toscanini, and often sang with him. This new set contains both acoustic and electric recordings made from 1924-1941. In spite of the fact that she was a dazzling colorature, Dal Monte seems to be an ideal Butterfly, and she is a superb actress as well. In 1939 she recorded the complete Madama Butterfly in Rome with Beniamino Gigli as Pinkerton, Oliviero de Fabritiis on the podium. Four excerpts from that recording (the third ever made of the opera; today there are more than sixty) are included in this new compilation, and you will hear one of the most convincing death scenes ever recorded. Officially this Butterfly recording was made in 1939, but CD notes give the date as 1941, doubtless an error. Transfers on this new set are excellent with ultra-quiet surfaces from both acoustic and electric sources. Opera lovers should investigate this set, available at modest price.

R.E.B. (August 2013)