HAYDN: Symphony No. 101 in D "The Clock." RESPIGHI: The Pines of Rome. SIBELIUS: The Swan of Tuonela. WAGNER: Siegfried's Funeral March from Götterdämmerung. WEBER: Euryanthe Overture.
Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York/Arturo Toscanini, cond.
GUILD GHCD2368 TT: 78:32
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WALTON: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat. ELGAR: Falstaff, Op. 68. Symphony No. 2 in E flat, Op. 63. Cockaigne 'In London Town' Overture, Op. 40. ROSSINI-BRITTEN: Soirées musicales, Op. 9.Matinées musicales, Op. 24. BRITTEN: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34. Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes.
London Philharmonic Orch/Sir Adrian Boult, cond.
FIRST HAND FHR06 (3 disks) (mono/stereo) TT: 77:05 / 76:34 / 75:59
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RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G (two recordings). MILHAUD: Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 127. Automme, Op. 115. Saudades do Brazil, Op. 67. DEBUSSY: Arabesques 1 & 2. Jardins sous le pluie. La plus que lente.
Marguerite Long, piano; Orchestre Symphonique/Pedro de Freitas Branco, cond. (1932 Ravel recording). Orchestre Symphonique/Darius Milhaud (Milhaud); Paris Conservatory Orch/Georges Tzipine, cond (1952 Ravel recording)
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 288 TT: 72:56

WALTON: Scenes from Troilus ad Cressida. Partita for Orchestra.
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano; Richard Lewis, tenor; Philharmonia Orch/Sir William Walton, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 286 TT: 69:37

WAGNER: Das Rheingold
Ferdinand Frantz (Wotan); Gustav Neidlinger (Alberich); Julius Patzak (Mime); Josef Greindl (Fasolt); Gottlob Frick (Fafner); Alfred Poell (Donner); Lorenz Fehenberger (Loge); Ira Malaniuk (Fricka); Elisabeth Grümmer (Freia); Ruth Siewert (Erda); Sena Jurinac (Woglinde); Magda Gabory (Wellgunde); Hilde Rossl-Majdan (Flosshilde); Rome Symphony of RAI./Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 057 (3 disks) TT: 2 hr. 37:50

Guild offers Arturo Toscanini's complete Gala Concert recorded in Carnegie Hall November 13, 1945. a Benefit Pension Concert. The Maestro elected to repeat the same program he presented with the orchestra when he first appeared with them, January 5, 1926. I cannot help but wonder if the works were played during the concert in the same order they are heard on this CD. It does seem odd that the final item is the Weber overture when surely the Wagner and Respighi would have been more appropriate. At any rate, we hear incredibly exciting performances, particularly the Wagner and Respighi. The sound is good enough to convey the performances, remarkably clear for its time, but there is little bass. First-rate performances from a legendary conductor working with one of his favorite orchestras. Recommended!

Many collectors are familiar series of recordings made in 1956 for Westminster/Nixa by the London Philharmonic directed by Sir Adrian Boult. Most of these have been issued previously on CD although few remain in the catalog, so for Boult admirers here is this fine collection of music by English composers. These are Boult's only commercial recordings of music of Britten; all of the other works exist in other recordings (there are four others of Elgar's Symphony No. 2). This was an era when Boult was in top form, and all of these recordings are welcome additions to the catalog. All were recorded in stereo in London's Walthamstow Assembly Hall with producer Kurt List and engineer Herbert Zeithammer, and the did their job well. There are two versions of Peter and the Wolf, one with Boult narrating, a mono recording as the stereo has disappeared. This is called Volume I; presumably the next will contain music of Berlioz and Schumann Boult recorded for Westminster/Nixa. The only problem here is the price - this set contains three disks, and although each is well-filled, the price is premium, which may not matter to Boult buffs.

Marguerite Long was a major figure on the European concert scene for the first half of the 20th Century. For more than two decades, she was professor of music at the Paris Conservatory, famed for her many concerts as well as her associations with major musicians of the time—although it has been said she was rather relentless in her wish for associations with composers including Fauré, Debussy and Ravel. However, her musicianship and brilliant playing conquered all. Ravel dedicated his piano concerto to her and supervised the 1932 recording made shortly after the work's premiere. The original label lists Pedro de Freitas Branco as conductor, but Ravel was a major presence at the sessions, and we can assume the performance reflects his views on the music. Pristine Audio's disk also contains Long's 1952 recording of the music, this with Georges Tzipine on the podium. It is a bit more expansive, has superior sound, and the French orchestra is in better shape. In 2007, this site mentioned a superb recording of all of Milhaud's music for piano and orchestra (REVIEW). Now we have an opportunity to hear Piano Concerto No. 1 recorded in 1935 with the composer conducting. And we also have solo works by Milhaud and Debussy, all composers Long new well. Beautiful transfers, as usual, from Pristine Audio.

Another intriguing issue from that label is the famous 1955 mono recording of scenes from Walton's opera Troilus and Cressida. The composer wrote it with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in mind as the leading soprano; however the legendary German soprano was reluctant to sing an opera in English at Covent Garden, so the premiere December 3, 1954 was sung by Hungarian soprano Magda László. About a decade later, Walton transposed the role of Cressida down so it could be sung by a mezzo; Janet Baker sang this with great success and recorded it for EMI. Schwarzkopf was coaxed into the recording studio for this 1955 recording, and now we have it in much improved sound (thanks to Andrew Rose's expertise), and as a bonus the 1959 recording of the exciting Partita for Orchestra. CD notes deal extensively with problems in making the recording, particularly those with Sir Malcolm Sargent who did not know the score and of little help to performers. This opera is seldom presented today, and collectors are lucky to have this CD.

Pristine Audio also is releasing Wilhelm Furtwängler's historic broadcast performances from the Italian Radio October/November 1953. These have been issued before, but these miraculous restorations will be a revelation to those who own previous issues. The performances are of enormous interest to Wagnerians, and these disks are essential. All of these intriguing Pristine Audio releases are available from their WEBSITE

R.E.B. (May 2011)