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Beethoven: Symphony No 6; Liszt / Stokowski, Nbc So


Release Date: 03/27/2007 
Label:  Cala Records   Catalog #: 545   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenFranz Liszt
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Can the vitality and color of the three Hungarian Rhapsodies included here come as any surprise?...The eccentricities actually have an inevitability about them...They really don’t make ’em like this anymore.

I haven’t heard even half of the recordings but, at the risk of accusations of old fogeyism, I must admit that all my favorite performances of this symphony are LPs or 78s that became LPs: the 1944 Furtwängler/Vienna, Kleiber/Concertgebouw, Toscanini/BBC, Beecham/RPO, Walter/Philadelphia, and this one, by Stokowski and the soon-to-be disbanded NBC Symphony Orchestra, or at least most of it. Quite a disparate collection of performances, I will admit. Although the conductor, for reasons of clarity and/or economy,
Read more doesn’t use the full complement of strings—he’s making no stabs at “authenticity”—this is a performance that wears its Romanticism on its sleeve, with some expansive tempos and expressive manipulations of tempo. Stokowski is, for obvious reasons, associated with juicy string tone, but another feature of his recordings is gorgeous wind-playing, which is no accident since he obviously placed a great deal of importance on it. Such playing really pays dividends in this symphony and not just in the birdcalls. On that subject and Beethoven’s other stylizations of nature, Stokowski holds forth in an illustrated talk called “Sounds of Nature,” which was included on the LP and returns to us, I am happy to note, on this CD. The important thing is that Stokowski shapes the music so lovingly and, no doubt to everyone’s relief, does not make use of the butchered edition that he was willing to perform in “Fantasia.” Some interesting inner-voices could be the result of post-production manipulations, but they add contrapuntal interest to a performance that already has a strong personality.

Speaking of a strong personality, can the vitality and color of the three Hungarian Rhapsodies included here come as any surprise? For some, even the eccentricities actually have an inevitability about them. Those less carried away by their enthusiasm may find the performances too eccentric and “over the top,” perhaps even cheapening the music. I used to be one of the doubters. Perhaps the rendition of the symphony put me in a receptive mood. Now I feel strongly both ways! In Nos. 1 and 3, Stokowski uses the Doppler/Liszt edition; in No. 2, he uses Müller-Berghaus It should be pointed out that it would be more accurate to bill these (as I believe they originally were) performances by “Members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra” rather than the orchestra itself.

Who needs another “Pastoral” recording and the Liszt Rhapsodies, least of all on a mono CD? Not too many people, perhaps, but they really don’t make ’em like this anymore. Come to think of it, I really do sound like an old fogey.

- James Miller, Fanfare Issue 30:4 (Mar/Apr 2007)
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 43 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Manhattan Center, New York City, NY (03/18/1954 - 03/19/1954) 
2.
Hungarian Rhapsodies (6) for Orchestra, S 359: no 1 in F minor by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 02/10/1955 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 8 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Albert Franz Doppler. 
3.
Hungarian Rhapsodies (19) for Piano, S 244: no 2 in C sharp minor by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 02/08/1955 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City, NY 
Length: 8 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Karl Müller-Berghaus. 
4.
Hungarian Rhapsodies (6) for Orchestra, S 359: no 3 in D major by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Length: 7 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Albert Franz Doppler.
Manhattan Center, New York City, NY (01/13/1955); Manhattan Center, New York City, NY (02/08/1955) 

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