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Toscanini: The Essential Recordings


Release Date: 03/10/2017 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 537604  
Composer:  Franz Joseph HaydnWolfgang Amadeus MozartLudwig van BeethovenFranz Schubert,   ... 
Performer:  Edna PhillipsGladys SwarthoutJon GarrisonNicola Moscona,   ... 
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony OrchestraNew York PhilharmonicPhiladelphia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 20 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Issued to commemorate 150 years since Toscanini's birth, and 60 since his death, this is a newly re-mastered selection of almost a quarter of his "official" RCA recordings, many of them made and/or broadcast live. Over the years, there have been two issues of his complete RCA legacy but it is currently only available second-hand at high cost. Many of the individual recordings in the box have long been available as separate issues but this reasonably priced 20 CD box fills a niche and is very neatly presented. I cannot offer a comparative view on the re-mastered sound but, in general, it seems excellent for a period spanning 1929-52; sample for example Falstaff which it seems hard to believe was set down in 1950. Most of these Read more recordings were made with the NBC Symphony Orchestra (which was created for Toscanini) but there is a smattering of his work with the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia orchestras.

I would be surprised if many doubted the great influence of Toscanini but his reputation appears to vary between being the greatest conductor of the 20th century and rigid, all too hard-driven and largely of historical interest. Having been through this box my view would be closer to the former. By way of background, I found very useful an 83 minute documentary about him made in 2006 on You Tube. I only intended to dip into it but everything else immediately went on hold. Listening to these recordings could be a similar experience - not much else has been in my player since it arrived. There is undoubtedly a magnetism about his music-making which can be felt in just about all of these records as easily as it can be seen and heard in the documentary.

In terms of content, more than a third is opera with three complete operas, a couple of bleeding chunks from Wagner's Ring, Act II of Orfeo ed Euridice and Act IV of Rigoletto. Toscanini's Verdi is otherwise represented by Otello — for which he played the cello in the premiere — and Falstaff, which would certainly be less well-known had it not been championed by Toscanini. Neither of these would be among my favourite Verdi operas but, in both cases, I was riveted by the seamless drama of recordings that are generally considered to be amongst Toscanini's finest. Not that the comic element of Falstaff is underplayed. The other complete opera is La Bohème which Toscanini premiered in 1896 and recorded fifty years later. Here I won't gainsay Göran Forsling's fairly negative review of the conductor's often hurried approach. His vocalise at big moments is very prominent and, even before considering the principals, this would not be a contender to displace Beecham's recording in my affections.

The purely orchestral recordings range quite widely across the repertoire and often belie Toscanini's reputation for being hard-driven. There is lyricism aplenty in Brahms Second Symphony and a pleasing sparkle to his Haydn, for example in the finale of Symphony No. 98. Toscanini also showed plenty of affinity with Debussy and Ravel. The opening of La Mer is highly atmospheric and the drama is saved for the concluding Dialogue du vent et de la mer. Ibéria which follows is all of a piece too, the idiom perfectly caught. However, Tchaikovsky's Pathétique symphony is emotionally restrained and certainly less idiomatic - an antidote to Mravinsky if you need one. Toscanini gave the premiere of Barber's Adagio in 1938 and there is no lack of emotion in this work, despite a fairly flowing tempo.

Aside from Verdi, Beethoven is perhaps the composer most associated with Toscanini and there are symphony cycles available from both the 1930s and 1950s. Here we get samples from both periods, the 1936 Seventh perhaps being the peak but the 1951 Fourth is also gripping and a must-hear. Tempi are generally very fast but are never beyond the players and isn't that what Beethoven ordered? Whilst there could perhaps have been more Beethoven in the box, anyone warming to the conductor's way with him is surely going to need a complete set.

Finally, to the Wagner, of which there are two discs running for just under two hours covering the climaxes of Act I of Die Walküre and Act III of Götterdämmerung, and several orchestral items, most notably a cracking prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger. These are among the peaks of the set, in particular the Immolation scene with Helen Traubel. They also serve to cause regret that he never recorded a complete Wagner opera, let alone the Ring cycle. Still we should be grateful for what we do have here and, if there are any Toscanini novices still out there, this is now the obvious place to make your acquaintance.

– MusicWeb International (Patrick C Waller)

Smartly designed, clearly annotated, this edition also features an essay by Toscanini biographer Harvey Sachs. Being competitively priced, and with recorded sound a series of gifted engineers has brought to bear on the sometimes problematic originals, there has never been a better time to invest in the recorded legacy of this most potent of conductors.

– Gramophone Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 98 in B flat major, H 1 no 98 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1792; London, England 
2.
Symphony no 101 in D major, H 1 no 101 "Clock" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793-1794; London, England 
3.
Symphony no 41 in C major, K 551 "Jupiter" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Symphony no 35 in D major, K 385 "Haffner" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
7.
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 
8.
Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1825-28; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 "Rhenish" by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
10.
Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21 by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Germany 
11.
Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Edna Phillips (Soprano)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
12.
Der Freischütz, J 277: Overture by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817-1821; Dresden, Germany 
13.
Euryanthe, J 291/Op. 81: Overture by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822-1823; Dresden, Germany 
14.
Oberon, J 306: Overture by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; Dresden, Germany 
15.
Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17: Scherzo: La reine Mab by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Gladys Swarthout (Soprano), Jon Garrison (Tenor), Nicola Moscona (Bass)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 09/1839; France 
16.
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Rákóczy March by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; France 
17.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
18.
Variations in B flat major on a theme by Haydn, Op. 56a "St. Anthony" by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Austria 
19.
Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
20.
La mer by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
21.
Images for Orchestra: no 2, Ibéria by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1908; France 
22.
Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 2 by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
23.
Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
24.
Salome, Op. 54: Dance of the seven veils by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
25.
Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
26.
Pohjola's daughter, Op. 49 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Finland 
27.
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22: no 3, Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893-1897; Finland 
28.
Feste romane by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Rome, Italy 
29.
Háry János, Op. 15: Suite by Zoltán Kodály
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Hungary 
30.
Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Rome, Italy 
31.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Act 2 by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Nan Merriman (Mezzo Soprano), Barbara Gibson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
32.
L'italiana in Algeri: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
33.
Rigoletto: Excerpt(s) by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Jan Peerce (Tenor), Zinka Milanov (Soprano), Nan Merriman (Mezzo Soprano),
Leonard Warren (Baritone), Nicola Moscona (Bass)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
34.
Semiramide: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
35.
Otello by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Nan Merriman (Mezzo Soprano), Nicola Moscona (Bass), Giuseppe Valdengo (Baritone),
Ramon Vinay (Tenor), Virginio Assandri (Tenor), Arthur Newman (Bass),
Leslie Chabay (Tenor), Herva Nelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
36.
Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Norman Scott (Bass), Herva Nelli (Soprano), Antonio Madasi (Tenor),
Teresa Stich-Randall (Voice), John Carmen Rossi (Tenor), Frank Guarrera (Baritone),
Giuseppe Valdengo (Baritone), Cloe Elmo (Mezzo Soprano), Nan Merriman (Mezzo Soprano),
Gabor Carelli (Tenor)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
37.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
38.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
39.
Lohengrin: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
40.
Lohengrin: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
41.
Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; Germany 
42.
Götterdämmerung: Excerpt(s) by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Helen Traubel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
43.
Die Walküre: Act 1, Scene 3 by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Helen Traubel (Soprano), Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
44.
La Bohčme by Giacomo Puccini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 

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