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Toscanini - The Television Concerts 1948-52 Vol. 2

Toscanini / Brahms / Mozart / Nbc Sym Orch
Release Date: 02/14/2006 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1004  
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsWolfgang Amadeus MozartAntonín DvorákRichard Wagner
Performer:  Frank MillerMischa Mischakoff
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Overall, the Mozart Symphony No. 40 that opens the telecast of December 4, 1948, is an elegant, detailed, probing, dramatic performance with finely nuanced lyrical inflections—a performance much preferable to Toscanini’s two RCA outings from 1938/39 and 1950, as often happens with this conductor’s live vs. studio-recorded Mozart. (Consider also, for example, the Mozart 40th from his very first NBC Symphony broadcast on Christmas 1937; or the telling differences between his 1945/46 RCA rendition and his 1949 NBC broadcast of the “Jupiter” Symphony, the latter available on a Music & Arts CD.) Presumably for reasons of time, Toscanini omits the first-movement exposition repeat from the telecast. The version used is the one that includes Read more clarinets. The Dvořák Symphonic Variations gets an absorbing, colorful performance truly worthy of this little-known, underappreciated work. In fact, in the context of the telecast, the performance strikes me as less hard and driven than it sometimes sounds in its audio-only release in the Toscanini volume of the EMI/IMG Artists series “Great Conductors of the 20th Century.” And it was during the telecast of this performance that I first began noticing what remarkable hands (notably his left hand: such long fingers!) Toscanini had. Finally, the Dresden version of Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture receives a riveting, brilliant, powerfully sustained, variegated performance. Toscanini’s moment-to-moment control of the proceedings and the variety of his facial expressions and hand gestures are extraordinary. It’s also noteworthy how differently Toscanini accents the “Pilgrims’ March” at its early appearance in the trombones here as compared to his 1948 telecast of the Overture and “Bacchanale.” The result is that when, in the Dresden version, the march returns near the end metrically altered from triple to quadruple rhythm, that return, similarly accented, sounds more of a piece with, and less noticeably different from, the earlier occurrence, to more convincing musical effect. All things considered, this is a great concert, marred for the viewer only by some oddly erratic camerawork: sometimes just what we want it to be, sometimes seemingly and frustratingly random. One more thing: at 12:06 and then again at 12:31 into the Wagner, principal cellist Frank Miller smiles knowingly at his stand-mate Benar Heifetz—perhaps because something that had been worked out in rehearsal went properly, or perhaps just in awareness of a great performance being achieved; who can say? According to Mort Frank’s Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years, this exchange of glances happened just once in real life: the duplication of this brief moment (with no evident conflict between the visual image and the music) was necessitated by some deterioration in the original film."
FANFARE: Marc Mandel Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102 "Double" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Frank Miller (Cello), Mischa Mischakoff (Violin)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Austria 
2. Liebeslieder Waltzes (18), Op. 52 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1869; Austria 
3. Hungarian Dances (21) for Orchestra, WoO 1: no 1 in G minor by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Austria 
4. Symphony no 40 in G minor, K 550 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
5. Symphonic Variations for Orchestra, Op. 78/B 70 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Bohemia 
6. Tannhäuser: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 

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