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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 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This twenty disc set, curated by Christopher Dyment and Harvey Sachs and drawn from RCA’s epic 80+ CD box of Toscanini’s complete authorized recordings, really does constitute an “essential” selection. Fans will quibble, as will I, but you can’t argue that the set contains a representative sample of the Maestro’s finest work, in the best sound to date. For example, I would not have given pride of place to the conductor’s Philadelphia recordings of Debussy’s La mer and Iberia, or Respighi’s Feste romane. The NBC performances stand among Toscanini’s most successful, and sound much better. On the other hand, the Schubert Ninth, lovingly restored, represents the Philadelphia recordings more than adequately.

Almost all of
Read more Toscanini’s major New York Philharmonic recordings are here, however, and rightly so. These include Haydn’s “Clock” and Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphonies, Beethoven’s Seventh, Brahms’ “Haydn” Variations, Wagner’s Lohengrin preludes plus Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, and two Rossini overtures. These were the sounds and executional standards that revolutionized the musical world’s conception of what orchestral playing should be. As such, they remain historical documents of the first order, as well as astonishingly enjoyable performances, to this day.

Other selections, such as Kodály’s Háry Janos Suite, Barber’s Adagio, Sibelius’ Pohjola’s Daughter, and the second act of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice show off Toscanini’s broad range of interests in an unusually wide repertoire–again revealing what a modern conductor was expected to be able to do. Certain performances remain iconic examples of the Toscanini style, stunning in their discipline, clarity, and intense lyricism: I’m thinking of the Brahms Second, Mendelssohn’s music from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, and Beethoven’s Forth and Fifth Symphonies. Haydn’s 98th Symphony is missing its concluding keyboard solo, but is otherwise pretty terrific, though Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” must yield to more spontaneous versions (such as Fricsay’s); but for the most part this is great stuff.

The most important selections, arguably, are the operas, whether whole or in part. Toscanini played cello at La Scala in the first run of Otello, and specialized in Falstaff. Both are here, the latter especially well recorded (sound clip). He premiered La Bohème, and while it’s impossible to say that the interpretation remained unchanged over the years, his authority is incontestable. Perhaps most remarkable, though, are the Wagner excerpts–preludes from Lohengrin (as already mentioned), Meistersinger, and the Siegfried Idyll, plus scenes from Götterdämmerung and Walküre, with Helen Traubel and Lauritz Melchior. Anyone who thinks Toscanini’s conducting got stiffer as he aged should hear his handling of the “redemption” motive at the end of Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene (sound clip). Has it ever been done better?

Issued for the 150th anniversary of Toscanini’s death in 2017, this set represents a worthy tribute to a truly great musician. It’s amazing how well these performances have held up after all these years, a testament to their sterling musical qualities, and a fundamental example of excellence that remains ageless.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz) 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 Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 

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