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Leopold Stokowski - The Columbia Stereo Recordings

Stokowski,Leopold
Release Date: 09/11/2012 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 197115   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Manuel de FallaRichard WagnerJohann Sebastian BachLudwig van Beethoven,   ... 
Performer:  Shirley VerrettFernando ValentiAnshel BrusilowWilliam Kincaid,   ... 
Conductor:  Leopold StokowskiGregg Smith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia OrchestraAmerican Symphony OrchestraSchola Cantorum New York members,   ... 
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


These recordings include the last that Stokowski made. They are, without exception, fabulous–beyond amazing for an artist in his 90s, and Sony has done him proud. Each of the ten CDs is an “original jacket” edition, never mind the sometimes short playing times, packaged with a nicely designed and fully annotated booklet. The sonics are uniformly impressive for the dates (mid 60s to 70s); Stokowski basically never released a disc that wasn’t engineered to his specifications, weird that they sometimes were. The selection of works also offers a virtually perfect overview of his art.

You get his devotion to contemporary music (Ives’ Fourth Symphony, Robert Browning Overture, and some
Read more choruses), his beloved Bach (three chorale prelude transcriptions plus Brandenburg Concerto No. 5), Romantic favorites (Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, Brahms’ Second and Tragic Overture, Sibelius’ First and The Swan of Tuonela, Bizet’s Symphony in C), orchestral blockbusters (his sensational Bizet Carmen and L’Arlésienne Suites, Tchaikovsky’s Aurora’s Wedding, Falla’s El amor brujo, and Stoki’s own “synthesis” of love music from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde–twenty six minutes of it, no less, played with orgasmic richness by the Philadelphia Orchestra).

There’s the legendary collaboration between Stokowski and Glenn Gould in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto (Gould’s finest non-Bach concerto recording), and finally a delicious disc of popular transcriptions of everything from Chopin, to Rimsky-Korsakov, to Albeniz and Debussy. The orchestras range from The Philadelphia Orchestra, to Stokowski’s own American Symphony, to the London studio pick-up ensemble The National Philharmonic, and every one of them sounds exactly as Stokowski wants them to sound. It’s pointless to try to choose between them. This is what a great conductor can do.

Although the program is self-recommending, I do want to take a moment to explain, with some musical samples, just why these discs are so important and rewarding, and how they illustrate the difference between a true podium genius and today’s technically proficient but often terminally dull baton wavers. First, consider the “Dance of Terror” from Falla’s El amor brujo (with a surprisingly good Shirley Verrett). This is the idiosyncratic Stokowski at his best (first sound sample). He does some rescoring; there’s the wild, descending swoop of the violins as the dance reaches its climax, but just listen to the passion and frenetic energy he brings to the music, helped in no small measure by the prominent trumpets.

Now compare this to a very good reference recording: Ansermet’s on Decca (second sound sample). Ansermet knew the composer. He conducted the premiere of The Three-Cornered Hat, and his authority in this music is unquestioned. By itself, he delivers a committed performance, but compared to Stokowski he sounds almost dead (until the end, at least). This, after all, is supposed to be a “Dance of Terror,” isn’t it? There’s no doubt that Ansermet is more idiomatic in the sense of being faithful to the score, but when Stokowksi was “on” (and sometimes he could be merely perverse), he created his own “idiom” one work at a time. The ends justified the means–a dangerous road, and an unanswerable question of individual taste, but in the hands of a genius a thrilling ride.

Next, sample the opening of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony (third sound sample). This was Stokowski’s last recording, made when he was 95. Perhaps it helped that he was practically old enough to have known Mendelssohn personally; this was music in Stokowski’s late Victorian blood. Remember, he conducted the first ever Brahms Symphony cycle, and while he could be demented in the German standard repertoire–witness for example his psychotic Brahms Third on Everest–in both the Brahms and Mendelssohn symphonies he has decided to focus on traditional music values. In the Italian Symphony, he finds the perfect tempo at the start to let those throbbing wind chords propel the soaring violins onwards–not too fast, but so beautifully phrased and truly singing. How different this is from the slick, speedy, superficiality that so often passes for brilliance today (and in Stokowski’s earlier years too, as historical recordings attest).

We could go on. Every disc in this set offers a testament to a conductor of inimitable style and personality. Today, most orchestras are much better than most conductors. The “maestros” get up, wave their hands about, and if things go well they take the credit whether they deserve it or not. It’s really not fair. With Stokowski, there’s never any doubt about who’s truly in charge. Mahler used to say that there are no poor orchestras, only poor conductors. This set proves him right.

-- ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
El amor brujo by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Shirley Verrett (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
Date of Recording: 02/25/1960 
Venue:  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Length: 25 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: Spanish 
2.
Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Fernando Valenti (Harpsichord), Anshel Brusilow (Violin), William Kincaid (Flute)
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720-1721; ?Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/25/1960 
Venue:  Broadwood Hotel, Philadelphia, PA 
3.
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 177 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1732; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/25/1960 
Venue:  Broadwood Hotel, Philadelphia, PA 
4.
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/25/1960 
Venue:  Broadwood Hotel, Philadelphia, PA 
5.
Wir glauben all'an einen Gott, BWV 437 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: ?Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/25/1960 
Venue:  Broadwood Hotel, Philadelphia, PA 
6.
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Glenn Gould (Piano)
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York, NY 
Length: 42 Minutes 32 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 4 by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra,  Schola Cantorum New York members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1912-1925; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/29/1965 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Length: 30 Minutes 31 Secs. 
8.
Robert Browning Overture by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908-1912; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/21/1966 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 22 Minutes 58 Secs. 
9.
Majority by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra,  Gregg Smith Singers,  Ithaca College Concert Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/18/1967 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 4 Minutes 23 Secs. 
10.
They are there! by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra,  Gregg Smith Singers,  Ithaca College Concert Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/18/1967 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
11.
Nov 2, 1920 by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra,  Gregg Smith Singers,  Ithaca College Concert Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/18/1967 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
12.
Lincoln, the Great Commoner by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Gregg Smith,  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gregg Smith Singers,  American Symphony Orchestra,  Ithaca College Concert Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1913; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/18/1967 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 4 Minutes 5 Secs. 
13.
Carmen: Suite no 1 by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; France 
14.
Carmen: Suite no 2 - Excerpt(s) by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; France 
15.
L'arlésienne: Suite no 1 by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
16.
L'arlésienne: Suite no 2 - Excerpt(s) by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
17.
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66: Aurora's Wedding by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
Notes: "Aurora's Wedding" was arranged by Serge Diaghilev in 1922 from excerpts of 'Sleeping Beauty.' 
18.
Suite bergamasque: 3rd movement, Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
19.
Estampes (3) for Piano: no 2, La soirée dans Grenade by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; France 
20.
Suite Iberia, Book 1: no 3, El Corpus en Sevilla by Isaac Albeniz
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; France 
21.
Caprices (8) for Violin and Piano, Op. 5: no 2, Perpetuum mobile by Ottokar Novácek
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Czech Republic 
22.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 34: no 14 in E flat minor, Adagio by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932-1933; USSR 
23.
Tale of Tsar Saltan: Suite, Op. 57 - Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
24.
Morceaux (2) for Piano, Op. 10: no 2, Humoresque by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Russia 
25.
Mazurkas (4) for Piano, B 89/Op. 24: no 4 in B flat minor by Frédéric Chopin
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1835; Paris, France 
26.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 28: no 24 in D minor by Frédéric Chopin
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
27.
Maid of Pskov "Ivan the Terrible": Hunt and Storm Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1892; Russia 
28.
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22: no 3, Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893-1897; Finland 
29.
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
30.
Tristan und Isolde: Symphonic Synthesis by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Notes: Arranged: Leopold Stokowski 
31.
Symphony in C major by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; France 
32.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
33.
Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Germany 
34.
Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 Great Stokowski Reprospective June 3, 2014 By Barry L. (Santa Fe, NM) See All My Reviews "This set of CD's provides an overview of his amazing career. The quality of the recordings is excellent and the performances pure Stokowski. And, I purchased it at a special discounted price." Report Abuse
 A gem for collectors! April 23, 2014 By P. Ledesma (Wellington, KS) See All My Reviews "As one that grew up collecting many of these titles on vinyl as a teenager, I was thrilled to be reunited with them on CD! The sound on the De Falla was spectacular and the unique interpretations make the set worth checking out. I couldn't give it a 5 star rating because not enough improvements were made on the sound quality. Most of these could have used some remastering to improve the dynamic range and clarity, but I found little if any evidence that such an effort was made. That being stated, as a collector this is a good sister set to the RCA Stereo Collection from 1954-75 for a fine representation of the Maestro's stellar recording career." Report Abuse
 Stokowski on Columbia April 22, 2014 By Jeff Schoenwald (Thousand Oaks, CA) See All My Reviews "The Columbia recordings provide impressive sonic clarity and range that ably highlight the genius of Stokowski's visionary interpretations." Report Abuse
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