Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 06/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here's the "new" old "Scheherazade" from Stokowski that sent critics on both sides of the Atlantic a-twitter when it was re-released last year. Writers from Gramophone to American Record Guide went bonkers over this, exclaiming it the most exciting Stokowski "Scheherazade" ever recorded...even more exciting than his 1940 Philadelphia version that some writers love to no end Leopold Stokowski, Conductor.
The sound on this CD is outstanding, just about out of this world. It was originally one of London's famous Phase 4 recordings, sometimes made with as many as 20 microphones and mixed like a modern high energy ensemble dance tune with a half-dozen engineers having input as well as the conductor. Stokowski loved tinkering with sound and you hear it all throughout this CD. Even though this is a garish-sounding CD, I agree with everything everyone said about all the sterling first chair players and soloists in the middle 1960s London Symphony Orchestra. They all play real well and put in a big time performance for the old man.
However, I can't rate this version as highly as the RCA Victrola Royal Philharmonic Orchestra version where concertmaster Eric Gruenberg performed the violin solo better than in his London Symphony recording Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Russian Easter Overture.
Another thing that performance had going for it -- along with Gruenberg's exceptionally sweet playing -- is powerful timpani strokes in the opening "Sea and Sinbad's Ship" and during the closing pages of the performance, one of the most coloratura, kaleidoscopic wide screen symphonic canvasses ever composed.
I like the Cala re-release and no praise could be too high for the sound or the solo work. But, for reasons stated above, I like the RPO version better and am far more satisfied with it than with the overripe London account. The RCA CD is also manufactured sound -- meaning not natural -- but the spotlighted timpani and better bass response lend a Russian feeling to the music that is lacking in this version."
The Best Scheherazade I've Heard
LD400RN | Sebaastopol, CA, USA | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I grew up listening to this recording on its original Phase 4 LP. Over the years I've owned or listened to other recordings of Scheherazade while waiting for this one to be released on CD. I missed its Decca CD release and am now thankful that Cala has reissued it. It is the best recording of Scheherazade out there. Stokowski was not rigid in his tempos for this recording and the music flows freely, hanging onto and savoring a phrase or note here, driving forward with intensity there. Stokowski really pulled the passion in the piece out of the London Symphony and they play exceptionally well and with fine solo playing throughout (I love the bassoon and oboe solos that come near the beginning of the second movement). Compared to this one, other recordings seem mechanical and passionless. The Marche Slav recording was done at a live concert and has some extremes in its tempi. In spite of this it is well played and has a thrilling ending. The bonus tracks of the rehearsal process are fascinating and brought back memories of my high school days in band and orchestra. You will not be disappointed by this recording."
Another Best from Stokowski
Archaeologist | Los Angeles, CA | 07/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Much has been said about the two versions of Stokowski's conducting of Scheherazade. There is a spam of years between these two versions. Each has its own character and charm, and they are both - in my opinion - outstanding. The RCA is a manufactured sound, of course, but how many manufactured CDs we have today. The LSO version is a bit slower, but it is more passionate. After all, it is a matter of taste.
As for Marche Slave, Stokowski conducts amazingly. It is a poignant and clear reading, especially with the DECA 4-band recording. Are not these pieces colorful?
You can also hear - as some bargains - the voice of the great master that was Stokowski in rehearsal.
Quite possibly the best recording of Scheherazade ever made
D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 01/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite his initial training as an organist and his love of Bach, Leopold Stokowski is most famous as a conductor of unbridled performances of masterpieces of the Romantic era. This performance of Scheherazade is one of his greatest recordings. Made in 1964 in London/Decca Phase 4 stereo, this outstanding CD has been remastered by Cala records -- in cooperation with the Leopold Stokowski Society -- and sounds as if it were recorded last year. This is Scheherazade for lovers of full blown Romanticism. If this is your type of music, you will love this CD. Highly recommended."