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Toscanini Conducts Beethoven


Release Date: 07/27/2004 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1134   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

All the items on this disc come from NBC Symphony broadcasts, the Leonore No. 3 being the only one among them not to have had previous release. It concluded a March 6, 1948, concert that began with performances of Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, both issued by RCA. Thus, the entire concert has now been commercially issued (although the RCA releases are currently out of print). Of itself a strong performance, this Leonore 3 is not quite a match for Toscanini’s extraordinary first broadcast account, once available from RCA and still to be had outside the US in a two-CD Naxos set devoted to the entire NBC concert of November 4, 1939. Indeed, there is a white-hot intensity about that account that Toscanini never again Read more duplicated.

This “Eroica” comes from the NBC broadcast of December 3, 1938, and marked Toscanini’s first performance of the work with the orchestra. It is in many respects similar to his NBC broadcast account of the following year (once available on an RCA CD and still to be had outside the US from Naxos). Where it differs from that more familiar version is in its slightly less inflection and in its being the only one among his seven NBC broadcasts and one studio recording of the score in which the trumpets’ execution of the first movement’s final statement of the main theme is lacking the extraordinary legato line that the Maestro secured in all of his later efforts. This marks, incidentally, Music & Arts second release of the performance. Drawn from the same source as its predecessor (presumably an AM air-check), it has been completely re-mastered: whereas the earlier release suffered from excessive noise, grit, and coarseness, this, one, if considerably quieter, has lost color and presence as a result of excessive filtering. And both transfers (through no fault of M & A) exemplify studio 8H at its padded-closet worst. Subject to judicious re-equalizing, the sound can be made tolerable; and the performance is well worth it.

This account of the Coriolan Overture is drawn from Toscanini’s last NBC season and was the opening work on the concert of December 6, 1953, that concluded with the “Eroica,” a performance that is still available from RCA. This reading of the overture is the broadest of Toscanini’s surviving accounts and the one in which he best integrated the ritardandos that he favored in two key spots. Intense, powerfully accented, yet—where apt—gently lyrical, it comprises one of his great performances of the score and is heard to better advantage here than in any previous release of the reading. In short, for those interested in Toscanini, this is a disc worth hearing.

Mortimer H. Frank, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: December 3, 1938 
2. Leonore Overture no 3 in C major, Op. 72a by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1805-1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: March 6, 1948 
3. Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: December 6, 1953 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": I. Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": II. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": IV. Finale: Allegro molto
Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
Overture to Collin's Coriolan, Op. 62, "Coriolan Overture"

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