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Arturo Toscanini Conducts Schumann & Ravel

Roscanini / Schumann / Ravel / Nbcso
Release Date: 10/12/2010 
Label:  Opus Kura   Catalog #: 7052   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Robert SchumannOttorino RespighiMaurice Ravel
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUMANN Symphony No 3, “Rhenish.” RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé : Suite No. 2. RESPIGHI Feste Romane Arturo Toscanini, cond; NBC SO OPUS KURA OPK 7052, mono (71:05)

All these performances took place in1949, the Schumann on an NBC broadcast of a concert held in studio 8H, the two other items from sessions in Carnegie Hall. Read more Longtime collectors may recall RCA’s original LP release of the Schumann, one of the most horrendous examples of sonic tampering ever imposed on a Toscanini performance, the lower frequencies obliterated, the upper ones exaggerated to the point where they lacerated the ears. When RCA brought out its 82-CD Toscanini Collection this blunder was rectified as it is in a subsequent two-CD RCA set (74321 59481 2). Typical of more recent Toscanini releases from Opus Kura, this one is drawn from HMV LPs and offers sound that is thoroughly competitive with RCA’s best efforts, a bit less bright on top, but eminently musical throughout. Its only minor flaw is a bass rumble that occurs below 50 Hz that can easily be eliminated with an equalizer or tone controls.

The Schumann comprises the last of four that Toscanini gave at NBC. It is impressive throughout. For one thing it proves the lie to the notion that he played every score “exactly as written.” No musician does this, of course, but here deviations from the printed text are obvious in the emendations that Toscanini makes in rebalancing choirs. And in one case, where Schumann calls for valveless horns, Toscanini produces the required timbral contrast by having his horns add mutes. Also interesting is how the performance refutes the notion that he always favored faster-than-usual tempos. Here his pacing is sometimes broader than that favored by others. In short if the RCA release is now hard to obtain, this one is a worthy alternative.

In the case of the Ravel and Respighi scores, this Opus Kura release is probably, for the moment at least, the sole source for them. Toscanini had three of the latter’s orchestral scores in his repertoire, but only that of Pines of Rome may be currently available (in RCA set 74321 72374 2). This Feste Romane is thus particularly welcome. So, too, the Ravel. It has been said of Toscanini by some musicians who played with him that in portions of the work, he seemed uncomfortable in that “he went digging for the beat” without being able to indicate it with complete clarity. But NBC double-bassist David Walter claimed that at the beginning of the score Toscanini “achieved something different from the usual impressionist effect” by insisting on an “exactness” of execution that other conductors did not achieve. One can hear it in this recording. All in all then, this release is another in Opus Kura’s more recent Toscanini discs that proves worthy of the conductor.

FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
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Works on This Recording

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 
Date of Recording: 11/12/1949 
Venue:  Live  NBC Studio 8H, Radio City, NY 
Length: 30 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Feste romane by Ottorino Respighi
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/12/1949 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall 
Length: 22 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 2 by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
Date of Recording: 11/21/1949 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall 
Length: 16 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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