SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C, Op. 60."Leningrad"
NBC Sytmphony Orchestr Leopold Stokowski, cond.

Zinka Milanov (Aïda). Mario Del Monaco (Radamès). Blanche Thebom (Amneris). George London (Amonasro). Jerome Hines (Ramfis)(. Luben Vichey (King). Thomas Hayward (Messenger). Lucine Amara (Princess). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Fausto Cleva, cond.

VERDI: Requiem
Maria Luisa Fanetti, soprano. Irene Minghini-Cattaneo, mezzo-soprano. Franco Lo Giudice, tenor. Ezio Pinza, bass. . La Scala Chorus and Orchestra / darlo /sabajno, coind.

Leopold Stokowski had a particular love for music of Shostakovich, and during his career made recordings of many of his works including symphonies 1, 5, 6 and 11. The NBC Symphony gained the rights for the American premiere of Symphony No. 7. The Maestro expected to give the American premiere of it when assistant conductor of the NBC Symphony. However, Arturo Toscanini insisted that he would conduct it which he did July 19, 1942. Toscanini disliked the symphony (he called it "junk") , and this was obvious from his performance. Stokowski conducted the symphony with the NBC Orchestra December 13, 1942 in Carnegie Hall, acclaimed by audiences and critics, and this is what is heard on this fine new release expertly remastered by Andrew Rose. The Musiuc & Arts issue of this performance was mentiuoned on this site some years ago (REVIEW). Because of its improverd audio, this new version is an important addition to the Shostakovich library.

Pristine already has issued their fine remastering of the 1950 RCA co recording of Aïda featuring Zinka Milanov and Jussi Bjoerling (REVIEW). Now they offer a live Met performance three years later, broadcast January 24, 1953.It is a splendid performance with the Croatian soprano in fine form towards the end of her careersr, producing a rich sound perfect for Verdi. She approaches that treacherous high C in O patria mia rather cautiously and doesn't hold it long, and she surely does know how to roll her "rs." It is a performance any of today's sopranos would be proud of. Mario Del Monaco is a robust Radamès, and nails that final B flat at the end of Celeste Aïda fortissimo. Subtlety never was his forte, and he is in top form; Two years later he made the famous Decca recording with Renata Tebaldi (REVIEW). It is a tribute to the Met that at the time of the Milanov broadcast they had such famous singers as George London and Jerome Hines in secondary roles. Blanche Thebom was a superb Anmneris, after singing Dorabela the previous nigh, was a last-minute replacement for an indisposed Fedora Barbieri, Andrew Rose;'s XR remastering is excellent. This is a major glimpse back into the glories of the Old Met.

Here is a true rarity for collectors: the first recording ever made of Verdi's Requiem , recorded at La Scala September 2 - 13 , 1929. The brisk performance (77:34) conducted by Carlo Sabajno offers two superb singers, mezzo Irene Minghini- Cattaneo and bass Ezio Pinza, then at the beginning of his fabulous career. Tenor Franco Lo Giudice is adequate, soprano Maria Luisa Fanelli 's ugly voice is hardly appropriate for Verdi -or any other music. This was an early electric recording and engineers have provided a reasonable facsimile of the performance. Mark Obert-Thorn has done everything that can be done to enrich out listening experience. Complete recording information is available on Pristine's website.

R.E.B. (April 2018)