More Sensational Stokowski
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 06/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It took me a while to purchase this six-disc set in UNI's "Original Masters" series, but I finally did this past weekend. Classical music fans seem to either love or hate Leopold Stokowski (I, of course, love him), and unfortunately much of "Decca Recordings 1964-75, Volume 2" will be old news to serious devotees of the conductor. While I'm not familiar with the complete Decca back-catalog, at least three full discs worth of material have been previously available in the old "Weekend Classics" series -- Beethoven's 5th & 7th, Beethoven's 9th, and the Wagner selections. (I'm pretty sure the Rimsky-Korsakov material on disc five, and the Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky pieces on disc six have been issued prior too.) This is good news for those who came to collecting classical CDs late (like me) because while the Wagner is still available individually, the Beethovens have been fetching absurd prices in the Amazon Marketplace. The only material receiving its first international release is contained on disc 3 -- a Schubert "Unfinished" with the London Philharmonic from 1969 and a rousing live performance of the Brahms 1st with the London Symphony on the occasion of the conductor's 60th anniversary leading that body. The original instruments crowd will surely turn up their noses at these legendary performances, but me, I'll just sit back and listen to some more sensational sounding Stokowski."
My own life is behind these recordings
Antonio | Madrid Spain | 06/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can assure that one of the reason I love music is due to these recordings of Mr. Stokowsky. My father had the record of Scherezade and, though my father was an ignorant about cultivated music, he knew very well what to appreciate. We never argued when I played Beethoven's first symphony so loud, however, he always did when I played Rolling Stones so loud. I adore that he taught me to appreciate Rimsky-korsakov's music as well as Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Spagnolo so young. He was wise, on his way. I can't help to cry for him, listening to Borodin's Palatsovian dances, because, it is great music, and, having into account that I used to love it by Mr. Stokowsky's work, it doubles my crying and my remembrance. He loved the record so much. I love you, daddy."
Don't go for broke unless you're a die-hard Stokowski fan
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Stokowski began to make Phase 4 recordings for Decca in 1964, he was already 82, but he hadn't lost his energy or his tendency to shape music in outlandish ways. I mostly love him, but this box set duplicates recordings that can be found on the Cala label, which has been releasing everything Stokowski in the world. You can slso hunt down Decca single CDs if you go to the used market.
I mention that because this sizable box set, Vol. 2 in the Original Masters series devoted to Stikowski, contains some forgettable performances, in particular the rhythmically slack Beethoven Sym. 5 and 7, the over-highlighted Schubert 'Unfinished,' and a live Brahms First that seems manic and forced much of the time. However, if you think of Stokowski having little to offer in the German classics, here is an exceptional Beethoven Ninth, one of the best things from his late career and wonderful in every way.
Decca knows that the crowd-pleasers are the gaudy, multi-miked Phase 4 versions of Scheherazade, as gaudily bombastic as you could imagine, and lots of Russian fare, including Stoki's signature synthesis from Boris Godunov. The 1812 Over., by the way, isn't over the top -- it needed to be. Finally, this German-Russian collection contains a thrilling disc of Wagner excerpts, much of it grossly over-miked, but at its core containing very impressive, vital interpretations.
In all, I'd select the Wagner, the Beethoven Ninth, and the legendary Scheherazade as the best things here. Buy them separately or take the plunge for the whole box, your choice."