Leopold Stokowski

Rhapsodies [4 Tracks]

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Rhapsodies [4 Tracks] Review

by James Leonard

For what it is, it is as good as it gets. What it is is Leopold Stokowski's 1960 stereo recording called Rhapsodie containing four Eastern European orchestral blockbusters with the RCA Symphony Orchestra. What it was was the hottest, loudest, brashest, and sexiest LP from the age of stereo and RCA's sound on this digital remastering is so real it might as well be in the room with you. Which would put Stokowski's lush, plush, and smooth orchestra with his extravagantly voluptuous tempo rubato sitting next to you. And in this JVC 2004 superlative remastering, Stokowski's orchestra is sitting very, very close.

But for what it is, that is way too much. What Stokowski did with color, texture, tempo, and sheer sound was amazing, but for some tastes, quintessentially vulgar. For some tastes, Stokowski's colors were too garish, his textures were too tactile, his tempos were too sensual, and his sheer sound was simply sex made music. For some tastes, Stokowski was music's Marilyn Monroe: lush, plush, smooth, and voluptuous, but quintessentially vulgar. And so while Stokowski's Rhapsodies is exciting while it's on, once it's over, the thrill is gone. But the effect of JVC's stunningly realistic sound lingers on and even after it's over, it begs to be played again.

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