WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Toscanini - Complete Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings


Release Date: 11/14/2006 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 702331   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz SchubertRichard StraussClaude DebussyOttorino Respighi,   ... 
Performer:  Edwina EustisFlorence Kirk
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia OrchestraUniversity of Pennsylvania Women's Glee Club
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 3 Hours 40 Mins. 

Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The main question for collectors familiar with Toscanini's 1941-42 Philadelphia Orchestra recordings concerns how this newly remastered edition (compiled from "original sources", according to Sony/BMG) compares to earlier ones. To my ears, the recordings sound better than ever. Andreas Meyer's transfers reveal a wider spectrum of low, middle, and high-range frequencies as well as more noticeable surface noise, while a few previous instances of pitch waver now are fixed. Loud climaxes that once emerged powdery and diffuse gain considerable definition and color, as Respighi's Roman Festivals and Debussy's Iberia bear out. The boost in dynamic range reinforces the Philadelphia string section's characteristically lush sonority, yet at Read more the same time underlines occasionally scrappy moments like the cross rhythms at the outset of the Tchaikovsky Pathétique's march movement or the overly rushed Mendelssohn Overture and Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The Debussy La Mer and Berlioz Queen Mab Scherzo match the point and delicacy of Toscanini's later NBC Symphony studio versions, albeit with a little more warmth, animation, and tonal shading, despite the inferior sonics. By contrast, Strauss' Death and Transfiguration seems relatively ordinary when you consider the extraordinary rhythmic focus and polyphonic delineation distinguishing the Maestro's great 1952 NBC reading.

Critical consensus singles out the Schubert "Great" C major symphony as the prize of the Toscanini/Philadelphia series, and I couldn't agree more. The fire and drive typifying the conductor's 1953 NBC performance is present in a suaver, more massively contoured orchestral context, with notable tempo adjustments such as the subtly effected first-movement transitions and, in the finale, a striking holdback on the unison C-naturals (measures 1058 and on).

I also should make special mention of the first-chair soloists, particularly oboist Marcel Tabuteau's faultless, elegant phrasing and Mason Jones' mellifluous horn work in the Schubert second movement. Whereas RCA's deleted complete Toscanini Edition spread the Philadelphia recordings across four CDs, here everything comfortably fits on three. Obviously this set recommends itself to all Toscanini admirers.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1825-28; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/16/1941 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 45 Minutes 24 Secs. 
2. Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/11/1942 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 23 Minutes 31 Secs. 
3. La mer by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 22 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (02/08/1942 - 02/09/1942) 
4. Images for Orchestra: no 2, Ibéria by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1908; France 
Date of Recording: 11/18/1941 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 18 Minutes 9 Secs. 
5. Feste romane by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 11/19/1941 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 16 Minutes 24 Secs. 
6. Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17: Queen Mab Scherzo by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; France 
Date of Recording: 02/09/1942 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 8 Minutes 16 Secs. 
7. Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/08/1942 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 34 Minutes 20 Secs. 
8. Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21 by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 
9. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Intermezzo by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 
10. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Nocturne by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 5 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 
11. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Ye spotted snakes by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Edwina Eustis (Soprano), Florence Kirk (Soprano)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  University of Pennsylvania Women's Glee Club
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 3 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 
12. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 
13. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Scherzo by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 4 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 
14. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Finale by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Venue:  Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA (01/11/1942 - 01/12/1942) 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Toscanini + Philadelphia = Must Have December 16, 2011 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stokowski briefly switched podiums in 1941. Stokowski's stint with the NBC Symphony Orchestra is largely forgotten, but Toscanini's recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra were the stuff of legend even before they were released in 1963.

The recordings were quite problematic, sonically. The initial 78rpm discs had defects (including off center pressings, which caused the pitch to waver) and were not stored in optimal conditions. It took recording engineers 1,000 hours of work time to make the Schubert C Major Symphony sonically acceptable. Even so, the recordings did not sound good, with screeching strings, unsteady pitch, and an occasional muddy quality.

It's a bit of hyperbole to claim that Toscanini's Philadelphia Orchestra recordings have gone from the worst to the best sounding. Did they ever really sound as bad as the La Scala Orchestra acoustical recordings? Do they sound better than RCA's recent remasterings of his later NBC recordings? No, and no. However, there is no denying that Sony/BMG's new remastering is far superior to the 1990 reissue. Frequency response and clarity are improved, and the strings have gained some tonal allure.

The performances bear the typical Toscanini hallmarks (phrasing, tempo, and unanimity of attack), while still sounding like the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Schubert C Major Symphony and Debussy selections have a slightly more relaxed, flexible quality than his later NBC recordings. Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream selections (including the rarely heard "Ye Spotted Snakes") are charming and transparent, while Resphigi's Feste Romane is orgiastic. The Strauss Death and Transfiguration, while a strong performance, does not have the shattering impact of Toscanini's 1952 NBC recording. Perhaps the highlight of the set is the performance of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony, far more flexible and yearning than either the studio or live NBC versions (the latter in early stereo, but with some slipshod orchestral playing).

Sony/BMG has managed to fit the entire contents onto three mid-priced CDs, as opposed to the four discs of the 1990 issue. Highest recommendation. "
Report Abuse
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook