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Toscanini - The Television Concerts 1948-52 Vol. 5

Toscanini / Franck / Sibelius / Nbc Sym Orch
Release Date: 02/14/2006 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1007  
Composer:  César FranckJean SibeliusClaude DebussyGioachino Rossini,   ... 
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"The last two telecasts are again impressive. Despite some decidedly unatmospheric Debussy, the penultimate program effectively shows Toscanini fully at home in four very different sound worlds. The Symphonic Interlude from Franck’s little-known oratorio Rédemption gets a riveting, powerful, firmly focused performance, as does Sibelius’s En saga (those same adjectives just keep coming up again and again), and Toscanini’s strong affinity for Sibelius’s marvelously unique instrumentations comes through loud and clear. The Rossini is remarkable for its overall clarity, musicality, and balances. Note the especially impressive trumpets, horns, and drums that herald the final Presto, which is itself masterly in its power, precision, Read more and pure virtuosity. Further, the frequent, sustained close-ups of Toscanini are themselves riveting. The range, clarity, and variety of his facial expressions in this telecast (perhaps because he’s conducting music by four very different composers?) are unlike those to be found in any of the previous ones, and especially so as seen against his black jacket. A similarly wide range of facial expressions will be apparent again in the Respighi—music by another extraordinary colorist—that closes the final telecast.

That final telecast begins with the same Beethoven Fifth one hears in RCA’s audio release (though here, as noted much earlier, without the first-movement exposition repeat). I’ve never been much taken by this rendition of the first movement, but the Andante is simultaneously forward moving and yet wonderfully phrased and articulated; the performance as a whole grows forcefully and consistently in power from the second movement on. Well-placed camera shots spotlight the woodwinds in the Andante, the horns at the start of the scherzo, and the double basses at the start of the third-movement Trio. The degree to which Toscanini is perspiring becomes particularly apparent midway through the third movement (his handkerchief now coming frequently into play to wipe his face), and he’s pretty much forced to keep his eyes closed for the last chunk of the finale, though thankfully with no loss or sacrifice of concentration. Despite the restricted sound quality, Pines of Rome gets a powerful and exciting performance. Toscanini’s ability to clarify Respighi’s multicolored and atmospherically evocative instrumental palette is masterful; the oboe soloist gets his deserved close-up during the third-movement “Pines of the Janiculum”; and, in the closing, tension-filled march, there’s something uniquely inexorable in the way Toscanini sustains and builds the “Pines of the Appian Way.” You can see it not just in his conducting, but in his very being—a truly exciting and stunning close to this invaluable and historic video legacy."

FANFARE: Marc Mandel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Redemption, M 52: Symphonic Interlude by César Franck
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871/1874; France 
2.
En saga, Op. 9 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892/1902; Finland 
3.
Nocturnes (3) for Orchestra: no 1, Nuages by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897-1899; France 
4.
Nocturnes (3) for Orchestra: no 2, Fêtes by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: French Impressionist 
5.
Guillaume Tell: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Italy 
6.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; Rome, Italy 

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