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The Blue Danube Waltz And Music For Strings / Leopold Stokowski And His Symphony Orchestra

Stokowski / Strauss / Borodin / Paganini
Release Date: 09/11/2012 
Label:  Guild   Catalog #: 2392   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.Alexander BorodinNiccolò PaganiniSergei Rachmaninov,   ... 
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

True and compelling revelations.

It would be very easy to underestimate this disc. After all, a quick glance at its tracks suggests that they could justifiably be categorised as musical “lollipops”: charming, easy on the ear and, to be honest, not too taxing for the brain.

In fact, this is a rather more significant disc than that, as you will discover if you listen to it with the degree of respect and care that the conductor himself has clearly given the scores.

The opening Blue Danube waltz - a Stokowski favourite in the recording studio - receives a most enjoyable and characterful performance. It’s full of vim and driven along rather more vigorously than usual: a powerful,
Read more substantial account that would surely have left all but the most energetic Viennese dancers quite puffed. Booklet notes writer Robert Matthew-Walker's claim that the conductor's strict observance of all the repeats “raises it to the level of a short tone-poem, removed from the ballroom into the concert hall” may, though, strike some as a little fanciful.

The string orchestra performances that complete the disc are, in the main, pretty familiar fare. Only the piece by Berger is likely to draw a blank with many potential buyers, though it will prove perfectly enjoyable - if, in all probability, quickly forgotten - by anyone who enjoys Prokofiev. Familiar though most of this music may be, however, Stokowski is determined to make us hear the scores afresh.
 
If you give the matter even the most cursory thought, you will easily perceive that the absence of woodwinds and brass poses a potential problem for any conductor putting together a concert (or disc) programme. To maintain a non-specialist audience’s interest and attention, he or she will be conscious of the advantage of injecting some colour and variety into the relatively homogenous string sound. That is where Stokowski - who, as an expert organist in his early life would surely have faced similar problems - shows off his consummate skill in two separate ways.

Firstly, as arranger of no fewer than six of the twelve strings-only tracks here, he exhibits the finest degree of discernment in creating an attractive working balance between violins, violas, cellos and double-basses that gives air and clarity to the scores. Secondly, as conductor he displays the greatest skill in the judicious application of rubato and, even more, in carefully controlling the dynamics within each individual piece so as to bestow a distinctive personality to each.

Stokowski was an inveterate showman. He revelled in celebrity, enjoyed a career as an occasional, if lesser, star in the Hollywood firmament and featured regularly in media ranging from feature films and newsreels to gossip columns - an on-off romance with Greta Garbo certainly helped. As such, his distinctive - and distinctively marketed - style of conducting was probably more widely seen by the general public than that of any other conductor of the Golden Age. Thanks to occasional TV re-runs, his podium style is still familiar. Thus, it is easy, while listening to these tracks, to imagine him using those supremely expressive baton-less hands - see here for a particularly enjoyable example - to coax such thoughtful, finely drawn and highly effective performances from the orchestra.
 
The content of this disc may not have, in itself, a great deal of musical significance. Many of you reading this review may well think that you’ve moved on past Boccherini’s once ubiquitous Minuet in your musical development. But, as vehicles to demonstrate the qualities of a master of expressive conducting bringing new perspectives to scores which we thought we already knew inside out, it and its companion tracks prove true and compelling revelations.
 
-- Rob Maynard, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. An der schönen, blauen Donau, Op. 314 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 9 Minutes 19 Secs. 
2. Quartet for Strings no 2 in D major: 3rd movement, Andante "Nocturne" by Alexander Borodin
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 8 Minutes 51 Secs. 
3. Moto perpetuo for Violin and Orchestra: no 2, Sonata movimento perpetuo by Niccolò Paganini
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 3 Minutes 52 Secs. 
4. Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 7 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5. Alcina, HWV 34: Tamburino by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 1 Minutes 22 Secs. 
6. King Arthur: Hornpipe by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1691; England 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 0 Minutes 54 Secs. 
7. Iphigenie in Aulis: Lento by Christoph W. Gluck
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 3 Minutes 14 Secs. 
8. Armide: Musette by Christoph W. Gluck
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Classical 
Written: 1777; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
9. Armide: Sicilienne by Christoph W. Gluck
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Classical 
Written: 1777; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
10. Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Christoph W. Gluck
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 8 Minutes 14 Secs. 
11. Quintet for 2 Violins, Viola and 2 Cellos in E major, Op. 11 no 5/G 275: 3rd movement, Minuet in A by Luigi Boccherini
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; Spain 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
12. Rondino Giocoso for string orchestra, Op 5 by Theodor Berger
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Modern 
Written: 1947 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
13. String Quartet No. 1 in D major: Andante Cantabile by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1957-58 
Length: 8 Minutes 9 Secs. 

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