BACH-STOKOWSKI: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599. Komm, susser Tod, BWV 478. Mein Jesu! was vor Seelenweh, BWV 487. Wir glauban all'an einen Gott, BWV 437. SZABELSKI: Toccata. SHOSTAKOVICH-STOKOWSKI: Prelude in E flat minor, Op. 34 No. 14. PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet. TCHAIKOVSKY: Suite from Swan Lake. BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73. GLIERE: Symphony No. 3 "Il'ya Muromets."
Chicago Symphony Orch/Leopold Stokowski, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 242 (2 disks) TT: 2 hr. 37 min. 58 sec.

MENDELSSOHN: Excerpts from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 21 & Op. 61. GLUCK: Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice. LISZT: Totentanz (with Alexander Brailowsky). TCHAIKOVSKY: Waltzes from Symphony No. 5, Eugene Onegin, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
RCA Victor Symphony Orch/Robin Hood Dell Orch (Mendelssohn)/ Fritz Reiner, cond.

DE FALLA: Nights in the Gardens of Spain. Three Dances from The Three-Cornered Hat. Interlude and Dance from La Vida Breve.
Robert Casadesus, pianist; New York Philharmonic/Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond.

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58.
Robert Casadesus, pianist; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Eduard van Beinum, cond.

More treasures from Pristine Audio! All of these releases are major for collectors, most performances being issued for the first time on CD. The twin-CD Stokowski set is terrific! These represent the conductor's initial appearance with the Chicago Symphony in early 1958. Both concerts were lengthy, and these CDs contain all of the music on the two concerts (each of which was given twice) except for some unidentified Wagner that would not fit in this compilation; let us hope eventually this will be issued. We have a group of Stokowski transcriptions (Bach, Shostakovich), and a sprightly Toccata by a Polish composer, Boleslaw Szabelski (1896-1979) who is totally forgotten today, even though his works include five symphonies. The conductor's own rather odd selection of music from Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake are there, along with a glorious performance of Symphony No. 2 of Brahms, and Stokowski's much abbreviated version of Gliere's massive Ilya Mourometz. This was a favorite of his and he made two commercial recordings, in 1940 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and in 1957 with the Houston Symphony (the latter made a few months before this CSO concert). According to Andrew Rose's program notes, these transcriptions are from a New York rebroadcast; the sound is well-balanced mono, and the magnificent playing of the CSO is reasonably well conveyed by the engineering. Keep in mind that during this general period the CSO was making their series of stereo spectaculars with Fritz Reiner for RCA; don't expect that quality of sound, but you won't be disappointed by what you hear on these historic reissues.

More performances long absent from the catalog are on the Reiner CD produced by Mark Obert-Thorn who points out that none of these have ever had an official reissue from RCA on LP or CD in over a half century. With the exception of Totentanz (which Reiner recorded for RCA with Byron Janis) and Waltz of the Flowers, both recorded in Chicago in 1957), the other works are the conductor's only recordings. The Mendelssohn was recorded June 30, 1951 in the Academy of Music with the Philadelphia Orchestra, for contractual reasons identified as the Robin Hood Dell Orchestra of Philadelphia. All other recordings were made in Manhattan Center with a pickup ensemble called the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky waltzes in September 1950, the Liszt in March 1951, and the Gluck in June 1953. Great transfers of these important reissues!

Robert Casadesus (1899-1972) was a leading pianist of his time known for his Mozart as well as the French repertory. He often appeared with the New York Philharmonic and Columbia was wise to record this performance of Nights in the Gardens of Spain November 2, 1956, coupled with Dimitri Mitropoulos' other Falla recordings, excerpts from The Three-Cornered Hat and La Vida Breve recorded June 3, 1957, all taped in the Columbia 30th Street studio. Excellent mono sound; the only debit to this issue is the brief playing time (42:23). There are dozens of other Mitropoulos recordings yet to appear on CD—easily some of them could have been included.

Apparently Philips planned to record all of the Beethoven piano concertos with Robert Casadesus, but the project never was completed. Concertos 1 and 4 were recorded in March 1959 with Van Beinum and the Concertgebouw just a month before the conductor died from a heart attack. Casadesus recorded the Emperor in 1961 with the same orchestra directed by Hans Rosbaud. Concertos 1 and 4 are magnificently played with brisk tempi, and previously released by another fine private label reviewed on this SITE.

All of these issues are available from PRISTINE AUDIO.

R.E.B. (October 2010)