HOVHANESS: Symphony No. 1, Op. 17 "Exile." STRAVINSKY: Symphony in C. HINDEMITH: Symphony in E flat.
NBC Symphony Orchestra / Leopold Stokowsi, cond.

VERDI: Rigoletto
Riccardo Stracchiari, baritone (Rigoletto). Mercedes Caspir, soprano (Gilda). Dino Borgioli, tenor (Duke of Mantua). Ernesto Dominici, bass (Sparafucille). Anna Masetti Basso, contralto (Madalena). Duilio Baronti, baritone (Monterone). La Scala Chorus and Orchestra / Lorenzo Malajoli, cond.
PRISTINE CLASSICAL PACO 169 (2 disks) TT: 1:49:17

GLUCK: Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo. BEETHOVEN; Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. MENDELSSOHN: Excerpts from A Midsummer Night;s Dream. ROSSINI: Overtures to Il barbiere de Siviglia, L'Italiana in Algeri, Semiramide. VERDI: Preludes to Acts 1 and 3 of La traviata DUKAS: The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
New York Philharmonic Symphony / Arturo Toscanini, cond.
PRISTINE CLASSICAL PASC 588 (2 disks) TT: 2:24:19

Leopold Stokowski reportedly gave about 2,000 first performances during his lifetime. His interest in then contemporary music is reflected on this new Pristine issue that contains three works in live performances with the NBC Symphony. Stokowski always admired Hovhaness; the composer dedicated his Symphony No. 2 The Mysterious Mountain to Stokowski who premiered it in Houston in 1955. Symphony No 1 had its premiere in England in 1939. It is a troubled score that reflects suffering during the first World War. The original second movement, Conflict, later was revised; this is the only recoriding as originally composed. The premiere in 1939 was in Englnd, and Stokowski introduced it to American audiences in 1942. 2. Stokowski also championed music of Stravinsky and here we hove his only recording of Symphony in C from a broadcast February 21, 1943, just three years after the composer conducted the premiere in Chicago. Hindemith's E-fat Symphony is heard in a broadcast February 28, 1943. Andrew Rose's XR remastering makes these old recordings belie their age. These are major additions to the Stokowski discography.

Italian Riccardo Stracciari was a leading baritone at the turn of the century. He made his professional debut in 1899, he then became the leading interpreter of Verdi and Rossini. We are fortunate that he made a number of acoustic recordings (available on Nimbus). In 1929 he recorded a compete performance of The Barber of Seville issued on Pristine recently (REVIEW). Now we have his other complete recording, Verdi's Rigoletto made the following year with the same orchestra and conductor. Others in the cast are major singers of the time, in particular tenor Dino Borgioli as the Duke and famous soprano Mercedes Caspir as Gilda. Mark Obert-Thorn has done his usual masterful magic in creating a clear, well-balanced sound from these recordings made nearly a century ago. A major issue.

Willem Mengelberg first conducted the Philharmonic Symphony of New York in 1922 and continues to lead them for nine years. Other conductors included Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Arturo Toscanini. Both Mengelberg and Toscanini made rewordings; Mengelberg's earliest were acoustic, but his later recordings were the then-new electric process. His amazing 1928 recording of Strausss En Heldenleben (a work dedicated to Mengelberg and his Concertgebouw Orchestra) is magnificent with amazing audio for its time. It is available in a superb transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn on Pristine Classical. Mengelberg's 1941 Telefunken recording of Helodenleben with the Concertgebouw also is available on Pristine. That label already has issued a 3 CD set of Toscanini New York recordings featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 (April 1933) and Symphony No. 7 (April 1936). as well as music of Haydn, Brahms and Wagner. Now we have this new 2-disk set of other Toscanini New York recordings. New to their catalog are this performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Gluck's Orfeo and Eurydice (April 1929), Scherzo and Nocturne from Mendelssohn'sA Midsummer Night's Dream (Feb. 1926 / March 1929), three Rossini overtures (Il Barbiere de Siviglia (Nov. 1929), L'Italiana in Algeri (April 1936), Semiramide (April 1936), preludes to Acts 1 and 3 of Verdi's La traviata (March 1929), and Dukas' L'appprenti sorcier (March 1929). This performance of Symphony No. 5 is different from the one previously issued on Pristine; it is from a "live" concert April 9, 1933, and included is another performance of the ending of the final movement from a concert March 4, 1931.Of great interest to collectors is inclusion of previously unreleased takes from the Verdi preludes, Rossini's Barber overture, and the Dukas. Mark Obert-Thorn worked wonders with these transfers, and his program notes describe the various problems involved with Toscanini, the orchestra and the recording company. A fascinating issues for collectors, indeed!


. a 2-disk set that contain Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 (rec. April 9, 1933) and Sympho y No. 7 rec. April 10. 1936.

p;i,me I cntains Beethoven Symphonies 5 recorded April 9, 1933

Like his close friend and colleague Dmitry Shostakovich, Vissarion Shebalin (190263) knew a life of both celebrity and hardship: he was another of the composers condemned in the infamous 1948 Party congress in Moscow, and in later life he fought to overcome a series of crippling strokes. But his personality remained undaunted, as his music resolutely proves. This is the first recording of his Third and Fourth Suites and Ballet Suite, all three prepared from theatre music, and showing the lighter side of Shebalins symphonic muse. They have been recorded by the orchestra of his hometown, Omsk, the capital of Siberia.