Notes and Editorial Reviews
Even when he doesn't monkey around with the orchestration excessively, as here, Stokowski manages to brand virtually every performance with his own timbral stamp. In the First Symphony much of the timpani part is missing (or subdued), and it should come as no surprise that Stoki turns the finale's Big Tune into a veritable harp concerto. Still, this is an incredibly exciting performance in its outer movements, even more energetic than the conductor's stereo remake for Sony; and no one plays the score's final page more powerfully or compellingly. As always with Stokowski, the (1950) sonics are good for their period, remarkably clear if necessarily limited in range.
The Second Symphony, dating from four years later, starts out
with a mellow opening movement that would be dull were it not for that characteristic sheen to the strings and the amazing transparency of texture (basses and bassoons!) in the central development section. More significantly, the performance gains in momentum as it goes, culminating in a swiftly thrilling account of the finale with, again, extraordinary top-to-bottom detail as Sibelius builds up the instrumental layers leading into the concluding apotheosis.
The remastering leaves some side-joins plainly audible, but it's certainly not disturbing--and it's nothing compared to the dynamic adjustments and other expressive touches emanating from the podium. Fans of the conductor obviously will want this, and Sibelius collectors will find much to enjoy as well.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Leopold Stokowski & His Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1899; Finland
Date of Recording: 1950
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1901-1902; Finland
Date of Recording: 1954
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