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Icon - Arturo Toscanini [6-CD Set]

Toscanini,Arturo
Release Date: 02/05/2013 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 233342   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartGioachino RossiniClaude DebussySir Edward Elgar,   ... 
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These are some of Toscanini’s finest recorded performances, captured between 1935-38, and it’s great to have them gathered up into a single set. For the record, you get Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7, plus two overtures (Prometheus and Leonore No. 1); Brahms’ Second and Fourth Symphonies, and the Tragic Overture; Sibelius’s Second and Elgar’s Enigma Variations; Wagner’s Faust Overture and excerpts from Götterdammerung and Parsifal; Debussy’s La Mer; and a selection of overtures and shorter works by Mozart, Weber, Rossini, and Mendelssohn.

The sonics range from somewhat dense and blurry (Sibelius and Brahms 2) to amazingly vivid (Debussy’s La Mer–first sound clip). This latter is probably Toscanini’s most powerful
Read more and impressive recording of the work. The same holds true for this Pastoral Symphony, also quite well recorded. In the scherzo the strings take a few moments to get themselves together (second sound clip), but it’s that very sense of occasional casualness–with no loss of tension–that some listeners find makes these performances especially endearing.

The Elgar is especially exciting. Unsurprisingly, British critics expressed reservations, not on account of the exciting bits, but rather because the performances’ perceived dearth of Elgarian “shyness” (I kid you not), whatever that is. Note writer Raymond Holden spouts some nonsense about the increasing use of vibrato by orchestras of the period, remarks that appear all the more foolish when you consider that Holden quotes violist Bernard Shore on Toscanini generally, without bothering to mention that the conductor had strong ideas about vibrato in the slow movement of the very performance of the Pastoral Symphony preserved here, which Shore discusses in his book (third sound clip).

So forget about the “historical” nature of the music making. These are, first and foremost, excellent performances and brilliant examples of Toscanini’s timeless art.

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

1. Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 6/2/1938 
Venue:  Queen's Hall, London, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 34 Secs. 
2. La scala di seta: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1812; Italy 
Date of Recording: 6/13/1938 
Venue:  Queen's Hall, London, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 7 Secs. 
3. Semiramide: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Date of Recording: 6/12/1935 
Venue:  Live  Queen's Hall, London, England 
Length: 12 Minutes 3 Secs. 
4. La mer by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 6/12/1935 
Venue:  Live  Queen's Hall, London, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 28 Secs. 
5. Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 "Enigma" by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898-1899; England 
Date of Recording: 6/3/1935 
Venue:  Live  Queen's Hall, London, England 
Length: 28 Minutes 50 Secs. 
6. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Nocturne by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1935 
7. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Scherzo by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1935 
8. Invitation to the Dance, in D flat major J 260/Op. 65 by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Dresden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1938 
9. Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 
10. Leonore Overture no 1 in C major, Op. 138 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
11. Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
12. Tragic Overture, Op. 81 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
13. Faust Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1844; Germany 
14. Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Death [Instrumental] by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
15. Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
16. Parsifal: Good Friday Music by Richard Wagner
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
17. Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1935 
Venue:  Live  London, England 
18. Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1938 
Venue:  Live  London, England 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Toscanini in London May 5, 2013 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "Most of these recordings, except for two CDs worth of material, are not included in last year's Toscanini Collection. All the recordings in this set, dating from 1935-1939, feature the British Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra. The repertoire here will be familiar to Toscanini enthusiasts: Beethoven's Symphonies 1, 4, 6, and 7; Brahms 2 and 4, along with selections by Wagner, Debussy, Sibelius, and a smattering of works by other composers. The Maestro recorded all these works later with the NBC Symphony. But these recordings with the BBC will come as a reminder that the most perceptive musicians change over time. The performances here reveal several traits that were not heard in Toscanini's later recordings: liberal use of portamento, a marked flexibility in tempo, and a more generally relaxed, even casual style. Many will characterize these performances as "warmer" than the more commonly known later recordings - and I can't disagree. One of Toscanini's strengths was his ability to find the character of the various orchestras he worked with, enhance their strongest qualities while improving deficiencies - with the end result being an orchestra that still sounded like itself, yet also bore the Toscanini hallmarks of unanimity of attack, transparency, and rhythmic vitality. Such was the case with the Philadelphia Orchestra, where the famed Philadelphia sound was intact, and such is the case with these recordings with the BBC Orchestra. There is a certain lightness to the string playing that is missing from the NBC recordings, which affects the character of certain pieces. For example, the Scherzo of Beethoven's 7th Symphony projects a sense of merriment, rather than the frenetic atmosphere of the NBC version. The woodwinds, however, have a slightly whiny quality which is distracting in some portions of the Brahms 4th Symphony. The set includes both live and studio recordings. All the performances in this set were recorded in London's Queens Hall - sadly destroyed by a German air raid in 1941. The acoustic is much more forgiving than NBC's Studio 8-H (where Saturday Night Live is now performed). Much of the remastering dates back to the original CD issues - as far back as the 1980s. But the sound is always listenable, to the extent that some of Toscanini's off key humming is clearly audible. Considering its narrow scope in terms of repertoire and chronology I wouldn't want these six CDs to be all the Toscanini in my collection. But this set makes an excellent supplement to RCA's recent complete Toscanini reissue. *Curiously, the cover art on my copy is slightly different than that shown on Amazon. The Amazon copy is described as the "Complete HMV Recordings" whereas my copy deletes the "Complete". Toscaniniphiles will already know that there are several items from these concerts, including the Geminiani Concerto Grosso and Cherubini's Anacreon Overture that have been issued elsewhere." Report Abuse
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