SCHUBERT: Overture, Entr'acte and Ballet Music from Rosamunde. SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39.
Leopold Stokowski and His Symphony Orchestra
REDISCOVERY RD 076 (M) TT: 60:12

Real treasures here! Stokowski had recorded the Rosamunde Ballet Music in 1927 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Overture in 1976 with the National Philharmonic, but this is his only recording of all three sections. The Sibelius symphony had been in Stokowski's repertory since 1910 (!) when he conducted it with the Cincinnati Symphony, and after making this recording in 1950 he conducted it in Finland with the composer present. He recorded it again in 1976 with the National Philharmonic, a performance currently available in EMI's Great Conductors of the 20th Century series (75480) in a better transfer than the previous CD issue, in Sony's Essential Classics series (SB2K 63260). The Sibelius recording was made in 1950, the Schubert in 1952, in New York with a hand-picked orchestra of selected free-lance players including some members of the New York Philharmonic. As Robert M. Stumpf II, past president of the Leopold Stokowski Society of America and curator of the Leopold Stokowski Recording Library, states in his CD notes, "what is really amazing.....is how Stokowski was able to mold the Stokowski Sound...from an ad-hoc orchestra....Stokowski knew how to use the latest technology (tape) to help create The Stokowski Sound." And, indeed, the Maestro did understand the technical side of recording and worked carefully with the producers to take full advantage of the medium. A rather small orchestra was used (not inappropriate for the Schubert) but it doesn't sound small. What we hear is a rich tapestry of orchestral textures. It is quite remarkable how much sound was on those original mono LPs here so superbly transferred by ReDiscovery! I look forward to other issues of RCA Stoki mono recordings. This CD is available only from ReDiscovery (http://www.rediscovery.us)

R.E.B. (January 2004)