[T]hose who want these classic and electrifying performances are going to find the sound dramatically improved, warmer and less strident.
-- BBC Music Magazine [reviewing the box set RCA 66656, of which these recordings were originally a part]
Promoted as 20-bit remasterings of familiar recordings that are part of RCA's 82-CD Toscanini Collection, [this set] may cause raised eyebrows among skeptics fearful that this is another example of the technological tail wagging the aesthetic dog. Let it be said from the outset that the kind of sonic damage inflicted years ago on LP remasterings of Toscanini recordings is nowhere in evidence here. Instead we have a few instances ofRead more welcome improvement and, throughout, some general shifts in ambience that, depending on taste, may or may not prove attractive.
The...1952 Fifth Symphony,...poorly transfered in 1991,...gain[s] greater presence, detail, and timbral accuracy... This Fifth, to be sure, is no match for the Maestro's 1939 NBC reading or his 1933 New York Philharmonic broadcast, but it sounds better here than in any other source, including an RCA videocassette...
All of the transfers share a frequency rebalancing tipped more toward the bass, adding some weight to everything... Tastefully done, it never blurs detail, but if it neutralizes some of the boxiness..., it is, in the main unnecessary, especially in the well-engineered Eighth Symphony.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67by Ludwig van Beethoven Conductor:
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 1951-52 Venue: Carnegie Hall, New York City
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92by Ludwig van Beethoven Conductor:
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 1951-52 Venue: Carnegie Hall, New York City
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93by Ludwig van Beethoven Conductor:
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 1951-52 Venue: Carnegie Hall, New York City
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Highly RecommendedNovember 18, 2014By M. Bishop (Clackamas, OR)See All My Reviews"For decades I have had in my library Volume 1 of Toscanini playing Beethoven's symphonies, and I have now acted to complete the cycle of symphonies as performed by Toscanini. I also have in my library the Beethoven symphony cycle as performed by Herbert von Karajan and the BPO. The sound is as good as can be expected from the original, monophonic reproduction of the music. The performances are crisp and clear; the instrumentation and vocal performances (in the ninth symphony) are excellent, even by today's standards. I highly recommend this set to those seeking an earlier rendition of Beethoven's symphonies."Report Abuse
Clarity, Fidelity, PowerDecember 16, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"I was skeptical when these new CDs were issued. My thoughts were that the early 1990s Complete Toscanini reissue was probably the best that could be humanly done to restore the very pinched and nasal sounding originals. Since I had already bought half of that set, I wasn't about to spend more of my hard-earned money on a marginally improved RE-reissue. I was wrong. In 1997, RCA totally reorganized and inventoried its massive vaults, which had been in disarray for decades. As a result, many original sources which had been declared "lost" were now "found." This new remastering is strikingly improved sonically over all earlier issues. Utilizing the best technology now available, RCA has also done the right thing by hiring a musician--conductor Ed Houser--rather than whiz-bang technicians to supervise the remastering. The NBC Symphony Orchestra now sounds better than ever before, with greater clarity, smoother strings, fuller winds, and less blotting out during fortissimos.
Perhaps no conductor of the 20th Century has been as misunderstood as Arturo Toscanini, as evidenced by the critical backlash with which he was assailed in the years after his death. That criticism was partly in reaction to the equally unbalanced adulation heaped upon him during his lifetime. I remember once mentioning to an acquaintance my admiration for Toscanini's Beethoven and Brahms, and he shot back, "He conducts everything too fast!" In fact, in comparison with other recordings and broadcasts of his era, Toscanini's conducting was not generally faster than average. In relation to TODAY'S phlegmatic tempos, however, Toscanini's pacing is definitely brisk. But what most people are hearing as fast is, in fact, Toscanini's characteristic rhythmic vitality and, occasionally, drive, which brings the faster movements to sparkling life. Likewise, the slow movements are never dragged, and glow with Italianate warmth.
It is worth noting that the repeat in the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was created editorially. This performance originated from a 1952 telecast, and Toscanini had to skip the repeat for timing considerations. RCA does not credit the liner notes, but they are reprints of Mortimer H. Frank's excellent notes originally written for the early 1990s CD release.
RCA has so far only released Toscanini's core repertoire with the NBC Symphony--but they are more than welcome additions to the catalogue. The Maestro's recordings with the New York Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra should also be remastered, post-haste. Then, RCA, which has given us magnificent reissues of Kapell and Rubinstein, should get to work and replace their botched Vladimir Horowitz reissue from the 1990s, using this magnificent Toscanini reissue as a template. "Report Abuse