AMIROV: Symphonic Suite on Azerbaijan Folk Themes. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fanasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 1 in F, Op. 10. KURKA: Symphonic Epilogue on Shakespere's Julius Caesar.
New York Philharmonic/Leopold Stokowski, cond.
GUILD GHCD 2415 TT: 73:08

HARL MC DONALD: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. My Country at War (Symphonic Suite). Songs of Conquest. John Christopher Smith. Childen's Symphony
Jeanne Behrend/Kelberline, pianos. Philadelphia Orch/Stokowski (concerto). Philadelphia Orch/Eugene Omandy (My Country at War). University of Pennsylvania Choral Society/Harl McDonald, dir. ArthurFiedler Sinfonietta (John Christoopher Smith). Philadelphia Orch/Harl McDonald, cond.

SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39. Pohola's Daughter, Op.49. Symphony No. 5 in E flat, Op. 83.
BBC Sympony Orch/Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond.
GUILE GHCD 2414 TT: 79:25

Leopold Stokowski had particular affection for Shostakovich's amazing Symphony No. 1 and gave the work its American premiere in Philadelphia November 2, 1928 recording it with them for Victor in 1931. He made a stereo recording with the Symphony of the Air for in 1958 for United Artists, and all of these recordings currently are available. Now we hear the Maestro in a live performance with the New York Philharmonic from a broadcast from Carnegie Hall March 5, 1960.Fikret Amirov's Azerbaijan Mugam was given its US premiere in Houston March 15, 1959, the(year he recorded it for Capitol. At this NYP concert, Stokowski gave the US premiere broadcast identified as "Symphonic Suite on Azerbaijan Folk Tunes" which, althogh qite similar, is another work. The CD continues with two performances from a concert March 2, 1962: the familiar Vaughan Williams Fantasia, which Stokowski already had recorded for RCA in 1952 and in 1975 would record with the Royal Philharmonic, and then we have an unusual work. This is by American composer Robert Kurka, Stokowski's only recording of his music, the Julius Caesar symphonic epilogue, a fascinating work by a composer who died all too young. Needles to say, performances are exemplary, recorded sound remarkably good, and Robert Matthews' notes are comprehensive.

About a year ago this site mentioned a commendably e disk of music of American composer Harl McDonald (1899-1955) (REVIEW).. It offered the best-known works of McDonald, who also was for many years manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as a respected teacher. As stated in the previous review, McDonald's music generally has not stood the test of time and few recordings are available. McDonald doesn't hesitate to quote other music on occasion; he final Hymn of the My Country at War Suite includes The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the Children's Symphony contains various nursery tunes. The majo work on this second disk is the concerto for two pianos which has has lots of notes but little of musical interest. This new Pristine disk is important; it does give us the opportunity to hear music by a negleted American comoser. Mark Obert-Thorn did all that possibly can be done to restore these mono RCA and Columbia recordings made more than a half-centuryago, and he also wrote CD notes.

Jean Sibelus had great admiration for Sir Malcolm Sargent's interpretation of his music. This Guild CD offers what is advertised as the first CD issue of recordings made in 1956 (Symphony No. 1) and 1966 (Symphony No. 5 and Pohjola's Daughter) all with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, all made in Kingsway Hall. Severe competition is from a recent Warner Classics 18-disk set (634121) of major recoding's by Sargent including works on this new CD, and countless others, and at super-bargain price.

R.E.B. (January 2015)