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Wagner, Strauss, Rimsky-korsakov / Leinsdorf, Concert Arts Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Wagner / Strauss / Rimsky
Release Date: 07/16/2013 
Label:  Urania   Catalog #: 121116  
Composer:  Richard WagnerRichard StraussNikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts OrchestraPhilharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These recordings were all released by EMI Capitol, but they have been gathered together and re-reissued by Italian Urania on two packed CDs. Erich Leinsdorf’s reputation hasn’t worn all that well. Even in his day he had a reputation merely as a workaday “house” conductor for RCA who got the Boston Symphony at the label’s insistence–a position that by rights belonged to William Steinberg. And to be honest, his subsequent recorded legacy with the BSO was hardly compelling.

But he had his strengths, particularly in the repertoire contained here. He was also one of the most creative programmers in the business. I recall seeing many concerts featuring worthwhile and unusual repertoire, even when the actual conducting left something
Read more to be desired. He created some wonderful “symphonic synthesis” type pieces of a kind we are more familiar with from Leopold Stokowski. Two of them are included here, and they are wonderful: the Ride of the Valkyries joined to the Magic Fire Music, and the Interludes from Strauss’ neglected masterpiece, Die Frau ohne Schatten.

The sonics, from 1957-61, are still impressive, perhaps because no effort has been made to create a realistic concert hall perspective. These are studio recordings with all that this implies, designed for home listening. We don’t make recordings like this anymore, but when done well, as here, the results are timeless. The Concert Arts Orchestra in the Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov pieces, essentially the Los Angeles Philharmonic, may sound like a Hollywood film ensemble, but who cares? Listen to the final shipwreck in this fiery and glittering Scheherazade, with that spotlit harp. Isn’t it wonderful?

For Death and Transfiguration, Leinsdorf had the actual Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the performance is luscious. The moment of death is particularly well done. You can practically see the soul swept heavenward. The Philharmonia Orchestra was on hand in Los Angeles for this impish performance of Till Eulenspiegel as well as the Frau interludes, but as with so many contemporary Stokowski recordings, the identity of the ensemble makes less difference than the way it has been recorded, in self-conscious “high fidelity”. If you don’t already own the Capitol originals, this identical-sounding reissue is definitely worth considering.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1957 
Venue:  Stage 7, Samuel Goldwyn Studios, CA 
Length: 15 Minutes 11 Secs. 
2.
Die Walküre: Magic Fire Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1957 
Venue:  Stage 7, Samuel Goldwyn Studios, CA 
3.
Tannhäuser: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1957 
Venue:  Stage 7, Samuel Goldwyn Studios, CA 
Length: 13 Minutes 0 Secs. 
4.
Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1957 
Venue:  Stage 7, Samuel Goldwyn Studios, CA 
Length: 7 Minutes 16 Secs. 
5.
Lohengrin: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1957 
Venue:  Stage 7, Samuel Goldwyn Studios, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
6.
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65: Interlude(s) by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914-1918; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1960 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 18 Minutes 42 Secs. 
7.
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1960 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 38 Secs. 
8.
Scheherazade, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Arts Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 

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