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Stokowski - Classic 1947-49 Columbia Recordings Vol 3

Release Date: 05/11/2004 
Label:  Cala Records   Catalog #: 537   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ralph Vaughan WilliamsPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyWolfgang Amadeus MozartThomas Jefferson Scott,   ... 
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Vaughan Williams symphony and Romeo and Juliet complete Cala’s presentation of Stokowski’s New York Philharmonic recordings; both were produced by Goddard Lieberson at Columbia’s 30th Street Studios. This was the recorded premiere of the Sixth, beating out Sir Adrian Boult and the London Symphony by two days (February 21 to February 23, 1949). Soon after, the composer revised the Scherzo, Boult returned to the studio to record the new version, and the Gramophone Company replaced that record in the 78-rpm set (only the matrix numbers were changed). The usually reliable Rob Barnett says that the Pearl CD of the Boult uses the original Scherzo, but even he gets caught up in the English belief that Boult’s was the premiere recording. Read more Stokowski’s tempos are rapid throughout (29:16 to Boult’s 32:46), emphasizing the work’s ferocious aspects at the expense of contrasting pastoral elements. The recorded sound was less successful than most of Lieberson’s work with this conductor, partly because of the all-pianissimo epilogue, which was buried by surface noise on the 78s and was not much better on an early Columbia LP. It is well served by this digital transfer. This recording was issued on a Sony CD in Britain, coupled with Mitropoulos’s Vaughan Williams Fourth, but that disc was not marketed in the US.

As he did with the Philadelphia Orchestra for Victor and L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande for London, Stokowski uses his own coda for Romeo and Juliet, which dies away to silence, in place of Tchaikovsky’s bombastic trumpets and drums; I have always thought Stokowski’s ending more appropriate, musically as well as dramatically, but I won’t argue with those who prefer Tchaikovsky. This performance is slow and lush, lacking the fire and passion of earlier recordings by Mengelberg and Toscanini. The lower strings sing gloriously, as only Stoki could make them, and there are some gorgeous horn passages, but the solo trumpet is a bit sour, and a few odd tempo adjustments interrupt the flow. Still, this remains an impressive performance; I loved it wholeheartedly in my youth.

The other items here are live broadcasts from 1949, From the Sacred Harp taken from a rare Vdisc, which rates a label photo in the booklet. Stokowski and Mozart were oil and water; only two other recordings come to mind (the D-Minor Piano Concerto and the Sinfonia concertante for winds). This “Haffner” is lively and vibrant; the large string sections have the slick Stoki sound, yet the winds maintain a strong presence. The sound is excellent for its era, nearly as clean as the studio recordings. Composer Thomas Jefferson Scott announces his piece; it proves an estimable if somewhat conventional tone poem. Stokowski gives it his all, producing a very satisfying performance. Cala must have found an exceptional copy of the Vdisc, as they are usually in terrible condition; some surface noise remains towards the end of the work.

Schwanda the Bagpiper is a delightful Czech comic opera that was produced around the world and insured Jaromir Weinberger’s fame. An early stereo recording, sung in German by Lucia Popp, Siegfried Jerusalem, and Herman Prey, has been called “A rare thing in opera: the perfect recording” by Ethan Mordden. The Polka and Fugue are wonderful music, on a level with anything by Smetana or Dvo?ák. Cala’s booklet says this was the only time Stokowski ever performed Weinberger, yet he leads the most rollicking performance I know. The sound is again all one could expect, with fugal lines reasonably clear, but I wish he had re-recorded it in stereo. For many reasons, then, this is a must-have set.

James H. North, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 6 in E minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1947; England 
Date of Recording: 02/21/1949 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 29 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1880; Russia 
Date of Recording: 11/28/1949 
Venue:  Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC 
Length: 19 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Symphony no 35 in D major, K 385 "Haffner" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/20/1949 
Venue:  Live  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 15 Minutes 17 Secs. 
From the Sacred Harp by Thomas Jefferson Scott
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/30/1949 
Venue:  Live  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 7 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is preceded by brief introductory remarks from Thomas Jefferson Scott. 
Schwanda the Bagpiper: Polka by Jaromir Weinberger
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 01/16/1949 
Venue:  Live  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 7 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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