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Immortal Toscanini Vol 5 - Schubert, Mendelssohn: Symphonies

Release Date: 08/10/1999 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 159480   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertFelix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 25 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The main question here is how BMG's new 20-bit remasterings compare to those in their 1990 Toscanini Complete Edition. Both ends of the dynamic spectrum are considerbly opened up, which intensify the Maestro's stinging accents and point up the carefully sculpted cantabile phrasings to an unprecedented degree. I also detect smidgens of artificial reverberation: tastefully applied, but frankly superfluous. The Schubert symphonies boast relentless forward momentum, which pushes the NBC Orchestra to the edge of its collective virtuosity. I prefer Toscanini's weightier 1940 Schubert "Great", featuring the more tonally alluring Philadelphia Orchestra. By contrast, the Mendelssohn works benefit from Toscanini's slightly looser-limbed Read more expansiveness in the slow movements, and the solo work is more relaxed. The performances, incidentally, date from between Toscanini's 83rd and 87th years, and reveal the Maestro's unflagging energy and fervent committment in each and every bar.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 in B flat major, D 485 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/1953 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Venue:  NBC Studio 8H, New York City 
Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1825-28; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1953 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1953 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Symphony no 5 in D major, Op. 107 "Reformation" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/1953 
Venue:  Live  Carnegie Hall, New York City 

Sound Samples

Andante con moto
Menuetto: Allegro molto; trio
Allegro vivace
Andante: Allegro ma non troppo
Andante con moto
Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Finale: Allegro vivace
Allegro moderato
Andante con moto
Allegro vivace
Andante con moto
Con moto moderato
Saltarello: Presto
Andante: Allegro con fuoco
Allegro vivace
Chorale: Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Sparkling Schubert & Mendelssohn from Toscanini December 16, 2011 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "For those accustomed to the Viennese whipped-cream & chocolate approach to Schubert, Toscanini's interpretations will come as a shock. Toscanini saw Schubert's symphonic works as rooted in Classical structure and compositional technique, coupled with Schubert's extraordinary melodic gifts, rather as works pointing to Schumann and the later Romantics.
This 1953 version of Schubert's Fifth Symphony is the only one made by Toscanini, who performed publicly it for the first time shortly before the recording session. Always concerned with instrumental balance, Toscanini pared down the string section so as not to overpower the woodwinds. The result is a leaner Schubert Fifth than in most recordings, with fleet playing from the strings and better intonation from the woodwinds than one usually hears from the NBC Symphony.

Toscanini's 1950 recording of the ubiquitous "Unfinished" Symphony is more turbulent than most versions, with the battle between the minor and major tonalities of the first movement clearly being won by the sides of darkness. Where the first movement is turmoil interrupted by occasional lyricism, the second movement is just the opposite, and Toscanini's approach to the work underscores that point.

The Ninth was Toscanini's favorite of Schubert's symphonies, judging from the number of times he performed it. His three recordings of the piece (1941, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1947 with the NBC Symphony, and this version from 1953), differ in tempo, approach to transitions, and balance between orchestral sections. Yet Toscanini's vision of the work remains essentially the same: Structural and harmonic clarity are paramount. Whereas most conductors use the work as an excuse for random, and radical, tempo changes, Toscanini's plays the work in a relatively straight line. This is especially noteworthy in the coda of the first movement, where Toscanini sustains the main tempo until the end.

Unlike the Schubert, these performances of the Mendelssohn Symphonies derive from concert broadcasts and rehearsals recorded during Toscanini's final season as a conductor. For the most part, however, the playing is as polished as in the Schubert. (One notable exception is near the beginning of Mendelssohn's "Reformation" Symphony, where there are a few incidents of poor woodwind intonation.) The Mendelssohn Symphonies are approached in much the same way as the Schubert, more "Classic" than "Romantic" (of course, neither composer would have been concerned with such musicological terminology). Nevertheless, in terms of symphonic music, Toscanini's interpretive approach pointed to the high Classical era of Mozart and Early Beethoven.

A note about the sound: Until recently, few conductors have been as poorly served by recording technology than was Arturo Toscanini. The first LP issues of his work, which even then sounded sub-par, were made worse in the mid-1960s with the introduction of fake-stereo reissues. The first CD issues in the mid-1980s were little better, with excess reverb and audible edits. The mammoth complete Toscanini reissue of the early 1990s treated the recordings with the respect they deserved, but the sound was still limited. As for this RE-reissue, the sonics are dramatically superior to all earlier issues. Utilizing the best technology now available, RCA has 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 distortion during fortissimos. Even this version of Schubert's "Unfinished," which was recorded in NBC's cramped Studio 8-H, has a fullness and body, if not actual warmth, that has not been heard previously from this source.

For those wanting to hear non-traditional, but faithful and powerful performances of these works, this issue is a must. "
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