Arturo Toscanini

Toscanini conducts Bizet, Mozart, Copland, etc.

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For anyone who relishes the conducting of Arturo Toscanini, this two-disc collection will be irresistible. Only two of the works included here -- two movements of Goldmark's Rustic Wedding Symphony and Smith's The Star-Spangled Banner -- were released in commercial recordings by Toscanini; all the others have been heretofore unreleased. For Toscanini collectors, this means eight recordings of pieces the conductor had otherwise never recorded: Meyerbeer's Dinorah Overture, Bizet's La jolie fille de Perth Suite, Massenet's Orchestral Suite Scènes alsaciennes, Mozart's Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola, Kalinnikov's Symphony No. 1, and Sousa's Semper Fidelis and El Capitán marches. While none of these are what might be called standard, or even first-class, repertoire -- excepting, of course, the Sinfonia concertante -- Toscanini clearly expended as much energy and intensity in performing them as he would have on Beethoven's Fifth. The clarity of the lines, the brightness of the colors, the sharpness of the ensemble, the energy of the tempos, and the sheer force of personality are all distinctively Toscanini's. Played by the "trying as hard as they could but never quite succeeding in sounding world-class" NBC Symphony and recorded in RCA's exceedingly dry Studio 8-H, these performances may or may not do much for non-fans, but they are guaranteed to excite collectors.

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