TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathetique." ROSSINI: William Tell Overture.
NBC Symphony Orch./Arturo Toscanini, cond.
MUSIC & ARTS 1194 (F) TT: 58:00

SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 9 in C. STRAUSS: Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24. DEBUSSY: La Mer. Ibéria. RESPIGHI: Roman Festivals. BERLIOZ: Queen Mab Scherzo from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17. MENDELSSOHN: Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream. TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathetique."
Philadelphia Orch/Arturo Toscanini, cond.
RCA RED SEAL 88697 02331 (3 CDs) TT: 68:55 / 71:58 /78:59

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93. Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral." "Ah, Perfido!"
Gre Brouwenstijn, soprano; Annie Hermes, contralto; Ernst Häfliger, tenor; Hans Wilbrink, bass; Amsterdam Toonkunst Choir; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Otto Klemperer, cond.
MUSIC & ARTS 1191 (2 CDs) TT: 70:06 / 42:22

"Sunday Evenings with Pierre Monteux" - Broadcast performances from California, 1941-1952
All Performances with the “Standard Symphony Orchestra” (San Francisco). CD No. 1 (78:13) BEETHOVEN: Consecration of the House Overture - Symphony No. 5 Prometheus Adagio - Egmont, Fidelio & Leonore No. 3 Overtures. CD No. 2 (75:51) MOZART: Don Giovanni Overture - Symphony in D, Haffner. Piano Concerto in A (exc.) (W. Kapell, soloist) - Die Zauberflöte Overture - Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail Overture GLUCK: Iphigénie en Aulide Ouverture HAYDN: Symphony No. 88. CD No. 3 (70:12) R. STRAUSS: Don Juan - Tod und Verklärung - Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche - Der Rosenkavalier Suite. CD No. 4 (66:33) WAGNER: Parsifal (exc.) - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (exc.) Der Fliegende Holländer (exc.) - Tristan und Isolde (exc.). CD No. 5 (61:54) WAGNER: Die Walküre (exc.) - Siegfried (exc.) - Götterdämmerung (exc.) - Rienzi Overture LISZT: Les Préludes - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. CD No. 6 (74:02) BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture - The Trojans Prelude - L’enfance du Christ (exc) - La Damnation de Faust (exc.) - Romeo and Juliet (exc.) - Le Corsair Overture. CD No. 7 (70:14) MENDELSSOHN: Overture Fingal's Cave- Symphony No. 4 - Overture Ruy Blas - TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy - BRAHMS: Five Waltzes from Op. 39 (arr. Hertz). CD No. 8 (76:27) ROSSINI: L’Italiana in Algeri Overture - BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 (exc.) - THOMAS: Mignon Overture - DUKAS: L’Apprenti Sorcier - MESSIAEN: L’Ascension - SIBELIUS: Valse Triste BRAHMS: Tragic Overture - WEBER: Euryanthe Overture SOUSA: The Stars and Stripes Forever. CD No. 9 (75:51) BORODIN: Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Christmas Eve Suite - Russian Easter Overture - Capriccio Espagnol - GLAZUNOV: Scènes de Ballet RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2 (exc.). CD No. 10 (74:59) FRANCK: Prelude, Chorale and Fugue (arr. Pierné) - Rédemption - Psyche Suite (exc.) - Symphony in d. CD 11 (1:19:12) GRETRY: Cephale et Procris - NICOLAI: Merry Wives of Windsor Overture - MASSENET: Phedre - FALLA: 3-Cornered Hat Suite ROSSINI: William Tell Overture - WAGNER: Tannhäuser Overture - RESPIGHI: Fountains of Rome. CD 12 (1:11:47) BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 in c, Op. 37 mvt 1 (Solomon) - SCHUBERT-LISZT: Wanderer Fantasy (Lili Kraus, piano) - TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. l in Bb minor, Op. 23 mvt 1 (Cherkassky) - BRAHMS: Concerto for violin and cello in a, Op. 102 mvt 1 (Naoum & Boris Blinder). CD 13 (1:13:59) WALTON: Façade Suite - SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 4 in d, Op. 120 - MOZART: Symphony No. 41 in C, K 551 - ALFANO: Aria from Resurrection - SIBELIUS: Pohjola’s Daughter - CHADWICK: Jubilee
MUSIC & ARTS 1192 (13 CDs)

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Suites from The Snow Maiden and Ivan the Terrible. TCHAIKOVSKY: Suite from The Slippers.
Philharmonia Orch/London Symphony Orch (Ivan the Terrible)/Anatole Fistoulari, cond.

WAGNER: Prelude to Die Meistersinger. BOCCHERINI: Minuet. FALLA: Ritual Fire Dance. WALDTEUFEL: Skaters' Waltz. SAINT-SAENS: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. DELIBES: Intermezzo from Naila. GADE: Jalousie. SULLIVAN: Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore. GRIEG: The Last Spring. DINICU: Hora Staccato. IBERT: Escales. CHABRIER: Espana.
New Symphony Orchestra of London/Rome Philharmonic Orch/Royal Philharmonic Orch/René Leibowitz, cond.

Arturo Toscanini had the misfortune of inferior engineering for the last decades of his life. His insistence on broadcasting from and recording in NBC's Studio 8H is a part of the problem, but even when venues were acoustically better RCA's engineers seldom captured sound that could remotely be considered high-fidelity. Many of his incredible performances continue to amaze in spite of less-than-ideal sound. Now RCA has newly remastered Toscanini's recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra made in 1941-1942. Original release of these recordings was delayed because of technical problems, but finally they were issued by RCA in their Toscanini Edition in the early '90's, in deplorable sonics. The new set is considerably better, but the fact remains that these are poor recordings with limited dynamic range and no low bass whatever. However, these are important performances by a major conductor, and it is good to have them available again in improved sound—and fitting onto three mid-priced disks instead of four as in their previous release.

Music & Arts' issue of Toscanini's Carnegie Hall concert of March 21, 1954, consisting of Rossini's Overture to The Barber of Seville and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, states that it was recorded in stereo. Aaron Z. Snyder did the digital restoration and the CD notes contain his fascinating comments on the many problems which included a missing section of the original tape because of RCA's forgetfulness and mishandling. In spite of Snyder's efforts, sound on this recording is highly disappointing. There is little stereo effect and what bass there is is lumpy and undefined. Rossini's overture goes well, but orchestral playing in the Tchaikovsky is untidy, particularly in the first movement; Snyder tells how he adds a beat in this movement to make the scramble less obvious. Toscanini fans surely will want to have this document, others should approach with caution.

Orchestral playing of the highest order is heard on M&A's Beethoven issues with Otto Klemperer and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. This mighty Ninth and Eighth are from the Holland Festival May 17, 1956, Ah, Perfido! from a concert April 26, 1951. Excellent, well-balanced sound throughout. Curiously, CD notes by Harris Goldsmith talk more about Furtwängler's Ninths than they do about Klemperer's (and a typo updates date of the latter by a decade). As these are full-priced CDs and the second has rather short playing time, it seems odd M&A didn't include more of the many Klemperer/ACO broadcast performances.

Another M&A release, and one of their biggest, is this huge set of radio broadcasts, contents listed above. The first ten CDs were issued a decade ago but that set has been deleted. The last four disks contain previously unissued performances including some fantastic items new to the Monteux discography. Highly recommended for fans of the distinguished conductor! In September 2006 this site reviewed another outstanding M&A issue of Monteux live concert performances from France (see REVIEW).

The other two historic reissues are from one of the most imaginative small private labels: Rediscovery. The first offers a group of recordings of music by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky conducted by Anatole Fistoulari for the MGM label with two of London's leading orchestras, sounding better than ever and free from surface blemishes that seemed to mar all of the original releases. The disk of "pops" favorites conducted by René Leibowitz with various orchestras should intrigue audio buffs as these are all early recordings made for the Reader's Digest produced by the legendary producer/engineer Charles Gerhardt. Even by today's audio standards, these are outstanding. You can order both of these from the producers: REDISCOVERY

R.E.B. (February 2007)