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Wagner: Orchestral Excerpts / Toscanini, Nbc So

Wagner / Dutchman / Nbc So / Toscanini
Release Date: 07/11/2006 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1382   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The three Wagner selections here featuring Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony are taken from broadcast performances; they have previously appeared on independent labels in transfers ranging from mediocre to quite good. Although I cannot ascertain if Testament's restorations were effected from the best extant sources, they've never sounded cleaner or better defined. What is more, they are properly pitched (Naxos' otherwise excellent-sounding transfer of the Parsifal synthesis was a hair sharp).


The Flying Dutchman Overture's swirling passagework and soaring melodies are sculpted with breathtaking accuracy and dramatic thrust. On balance, this March 31, 1946 reading is the best-integrated and -executed of the
Read more conductor's three NBC broadcasts of the work. Indeed, it's remarkable that the Maestro's orchestral image conveys a luminous and sustained impact in spite of Studio 8-H's controversially dry acoustic. The latter lends itself less well to the Parsifal selections, for the simple reason that Wagner's delicate, shimmering string writing and massed brass need to resonate in an appropriate acoustic, and you can't catch a rainbow in a shoebox. In this sense, I prefer the Maestro's more spaciously singing live 1935 BBC versions of the Act 1 Prelude and Act 3 Good Friday Spell.


The remaining Parsifal extracts encompass a "symphonic synthesis" drawn from the opera's second and third acts. It begins with Act 2's prelude, dips into Act 3's prelude, then backpedals to Act 2 and most of the music up to and including the Flowermaidens' scene. Right at that moment when Kundry intones Parsifal's name for the first time, Toscanini jumps to the end of Act 3. In my review of the aforementioned Naxos transfer, I voiced my suspicion that the Maestro may have had second thoughts about what he had wrought, judging from his brisk, rather matter-of-fact interpretation, plus the fact that he never performed this curious concoction again.


Lastly, the original, extended version of Tannhäuser's third-act prelude shows off the orchestra in Carnegie Hall's more genial, robust acoustic. This November 29, 1953 performance easily ranks among the finest of Toscanini's "late period" recordings. Mortimer H. Frank's excellent booklet notes discuss the performances in the context of the conductor's career.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Der fliegende Holländer: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/31/1946 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8-H, New York, NY 
Length: 10 Minutes 51 Secs. 
2.
Tannhäuser: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/29/1953 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York, NY 
Length: 13 Minutes 52 Secs. 
3.
Parsifal: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/23/1940 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York, NY 
Length: 13 Minutes 19 Secs. 
4.
Parsifal: Good Friday Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/23/1940 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8-H, New York, NY 
Length: 11 Minutes 23 Secs. 
5.
Parsifal: Act 2 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/23/1940 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8-H, New York, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 23 Secs. 
6.
Parsifal: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/23/1940 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8-H, New York, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 47 Secs. 
7.
Parsifal: Klingsor's Magic Garden by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Date of Recording: 03/23/1940 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8-H, New York, NY 
Length: 8 Minutes 20 Secs. 
8.
Parsifal: Act 3 Finale by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/23/1940 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8-H, New York, NY 
Length: 7 Minutes 57 Secs. 

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