ORMANDY CONDUCTS STRAUSS
CLASSIC FILM SCORES
BERNSTEIN CONDUCTS MAHLER
EILEEN FARRELL - COMPLETECOLUMBIA RECORDINGS
Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra made many recordings of music of Richard Strauss. This set includes all of them made 1961 - 1966 in three venues: Engineers could not cope with the dry acoustics of the orchestra's Academy of Music so these recordings were made in Philadelphia's Athletic Club, and New York's Town Hall and Manhattan Center. Sound is adequate but what is heard here is hardly equal to stereo recording standards of the time. It is unfortunate Columbia's engineers were not successful in capturing the rich sounds of this superb orchestra. In 1968 the Orchestra switched from Columbia to RCA and made numerous recordings for that label including Strauss: Zarathustra, Don Quixote, Heldenleben, Metamorphosis, and Death and Transfiguration. RCA's engineering was equally disappointing. Sony's set includes an 8-page booklet that only repeats information on the individual jackets; no program notes.
Charles Gerhgardt's Classic Film Scores series was a great hit to collectors.
It presented major film scores magnificently played and recorded in superb
auydio This 12 disk set contains almost all of RCA's Classic Film
Leonard Bernstein championed music of Gustav Mahler and recorded virtually all of his music, sometimes multiple times. This important new set contains all of his recordings for Columbia, his first recordings of this music. All are with the New York Philharmonic except for Symphony No. 8 which was with the London Symphony, presumably because recording such a massive work would be less expensive if recorded in Europe. We also have he 1972 live Israel Philharmonic recording of Das Lied von der Erde with soloists Christa Ludwig and René Kollo. Collectors surely would wish to have these early recordings to add to his later recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, all worthy except for Symphony No. 8 which uses a smaller chorus than required. Considering the importance of Leonard Bernstein in the Sony catalog, it is surprising that this reissue is so basic. There is no program booklet, and there are no program notes, only a listing of soloists and recording information.
This welcome Eileen Farrell set restores to the catalog many peformances that have long been unavailable. The amazing American soprano (1920 - 2002) was born in Connecticut had a sixty-year caree.Her career at the Met was relatively short; she made her debut in 1960 in Gluck's Alceste and her final performance was in 1966. During that time she sang many perforances of La Gioconda, La forza del Destino, and a few performances of Andrea Chenier and Cavalleria Rusticana. Farrell also was featured in an oddity: the American premiere of de Falla's Atlantida, a poetic name for the mythical continent of Atlantisa. This was a cantata for soprano, chorus and orchestra, conducted by Ernest Ansermet. This work has long been forgotten, probably for good reason.
Farrell recorded profusely, and here we have her only complete opera recording, Berg's Wozzeck with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic. Farrell also made a disk of highlights from Cherubini's Medea. There are many recordings of varied opera arias mostly Puccini and Verdi, , some duets with Richard Tucker. Farrell also recorded lieder by a wide variety of composers including Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Fauré, Poulenc and Respighi. She was one of the most versatile of singers and often included pop and torch songs on her popular weekly radio broadcasts. Many of them are here including music by Arlen, Gershwin, and Rodgers.What is unfortunate is that Sony elected not to include Farrell's RCA recordings even though they have the rights to them. These include Wagner with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony. The Sony set is handsomely packaged, with each disk illustrated with a photo of the original cover, along with program notes. A 48-page booklet contains an essay about Farrell, some photos and detailed recording information. This is an essential set for those who love opera, a tribute to the leading American soprano of the century.