NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC 1945 PENSION FUND CONCERT
LISZT: A Faust Symphony. WAGNER: A Faust Overture.
Pristine's reissue of RCA's 1950 recording of Aïda is a welcome tribute to one of the truly great Verdi sopranos of the century.Croation-born Zinka Milanov (1906 - 1989). She made her Met debut in 1938 in Aïda and sang it dozens of times, along with other Verdi roles including La forza del Destino, Ernani, A Masked Ball, Simon Boccanegra, Boccanegra and Otello. Milanov also excelled in La Gioconda, Norma and Andrea Chenier—a remarkable soprano indeed. She is at her best in this RCA Aïda, glorious sound throughout and no problem whatever with the high register—although there is an occasional trace of sliding into notes that slightly marred some of her later performances. Milanov did not have a sense of humor. In 1955 when she made her RCA recording of Tosca, she commented that at this stage, "high C's didn't grow o0on trees." And this is reflected in her recording of Tosca. She also was not amused when e Lily Tomlin listed her as understudy for one of the comedienne's Broadway shows. Mlanov sued and reportedly was awarded $5,000. The remainder of the cast for this Aïda is just about perfect. Jussi Bjoerling, also in his prime, is a strong adamés, and of course vocal challenges are no problem. Likewise, Leonard Warren was in his prime, and we have the luxury of Boris Christoff as Ramfis. Audio always was well-balanced mono; Andrew Rose's remastering has enhanced it considerably. A terrific, and important, issue! No texts or libretto.
January 14, 1926 Arturo Toscanini and the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York gave their first concert in Carnegie Hall. For his final concert with the orchestra, he repeated this identical program in Carnegie Hall January 13, 1945. This can b e heard in its entirety on Pristine's important CD. This concert was not broadcast, and it has been suggested Toscanini had it made in-house for his own use. There also is the possibility there might have been an overseas broadcast. It is not clear which source Andrew Rose used for his transfer, but he did a fine job in restoring sometimes audio to very listenable quality. By eliminating much of the applause, it was possible to get the concert onto a single dis. It seems rather odd that the program was presented in the order found on the CD; one surely would expect the Respighi to end the concert. All performances are brillant indeed particularly the Weber overture.This is an important recording displaying Toscanini and the orchestra at thire peak of perfection
There have been many excellent recordings of Liszt's early choral masterpieceA Faust Symphony. It seems odd it is called a "choral" symphony as the mens' chorus sings only briefly (about 5 minutes) at the conclusion. The work has always attracted major conductors and many have recorded it including Beecham with the Royal Philharmonic, Solti with the Chicago Symphony, and Leonard Bernstein whose first was with the New York Philharmonic in 1960, the second, with the Boston Symphony was made in 1976 and is available both on CD and DVD—they are different performances from the same series of concerts. (REVIEW).
Later recordings included Giuseppe Sinbopoli with the Dresden Philharmonic, Iván Fischer and his Budapest Festival forces, and Riccardo Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw. There also are videos conducted by Christian Thielemann with his Dresden forces (REVIEW), and one led by Neemi Järvi from a concert to celebrate the conductor's 70th bird ay in 2007. plus the Bernstein/Boston video. Pristine's new issue is a superb remastering of Horenstein's 1955early stereo recording for Vox with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Southwest German Radio. Horenstein always is at his bat his best in large-scale works, and does not disappoint. He misses none of the Mephistophelean energy of the two outer movements, and the fine orchestra responds brilliantly. Wagner's seldom heard A Faust Overture, doubtless from the came concert, is a welcome filler
This remastering by Andrew Rose has used modern technology to compensate for misbalances in the original taping, and the result is a very pleasant sound. A distinguished addition to the catalog!
R.E.B. December 2015)