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Leopold Stokowski The Magician
Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt
Leopold Stokowski The Magician
Genres: Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #2

The performances on this well-filled two-CD set come from the last decades of Leopold Stokowski's extraordinarily long life (1882-1977). The five selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet are dated 1954, everything else...  more »

      
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The performances on this well-filled two-CD set come from the last decades of Leopold Stokowski's extraordinarily long life (1882-1977). The five selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet are dated 1954, everything else being recorded between 1960 and 1974. After opening with two idiomatic Bach transcriptions, much of the program concentrates on 19th-century romanticism, a glittering fantasy being conjured from Wagner's "Magic Fire Music." Even so, given the title The Magician, a reference to Stokowski's role in Disney's film Fantasia--and specifically The Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence--one might be surprised that there is no recording of that piece here.Equally surprising, though in a very different way, is the sheer energy the 92-year-old conductor brings to a 1974 reading of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture. With a deeply romantic intensity, Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 has surely never sounded more European, soprano Anna Moffo singing with impassioned commitment. At 28 minutes, by far the longest recording is Romeo and Juliet; beginning in almost detached tranquility, Stokowski builds to implacable tragedy. Finally, Shostakovich's suite The Age of Gold is witty and idiosyncratic, the high point being an especially lyrical and affecting Adagio. A feast of rapt music-making and vividly bold sound, this is an excellent anthology thoroughly deserving a sequel. --Gary S Dalkin

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CD Reviews

The Magician...a well deserved reputation.
DWPC | Ventura, CA United States | 06/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Up front, I'll admit I don't care for most of the selections in this 2 disk album; the second disk virtually is wasted on me. Thats why its not a 5-star for me. That being said, the Liszt, Wagner, Smetana, and Rimsky-Korsakov pieces are well worth the price of admission. Stokowski's coloration of arrangement and tempo are remarkable. His Hungarian Rhapsody and Wagner pieces are so unique, its like hearing the old war horses for the first time. Its a shame most of Stokowski's performances predate high fidelity."