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Stokowski/Bach Transcriptions Volume 2
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1750)
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 [9:02]
Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056: II. Largo (Arioso) [6:00]
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 [3:48]
Das Orgel-Buchlein: Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 [3:24]
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564: Adagio [4:01]
Mein Jesu! was vor Seelenweh, BWV 487 [3:51]
Ein Feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) [2:46]
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Chorale: Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring) [3:33]
The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I: Prelude No. 24 in B minor, BWV 869 [3:54]
Sonata No. 4 for Violin and Harpsichord in C minor, BWV 1017: I. Siciliano [2:41]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1526–1594)
Adoramus te Christe [2:33]
William BYRD (1543–1623)
Pavane and Gigue [4:35]
Jeremiah CLARKE (1674–1707)
Suite in D major: IV. The Prince of Denmark's March, "Trumpet Voluntary" [2:23]
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743–1805)
String Quintet in E major, Op. 11, No. 5, G. 275: III. Minuet [3:43]
Johann MATTHESON (1681–1764)
Suite No. 5 in C minor for Harpsichord: Air [3:48]
Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
String Quartet in F major, Op. 3, No. 5, Hob.III:17, "Serenade" (attributed to Hoffstetter): II. Andante cantabile [2:52]
Johann Sebastian BACH
The Well–Tempered Clavier, Book I: Fugue No. 2 in C minor, BWV 847 [2:04]
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Josť Serebrier
rec. 17-18 April 2008, the Concert Hall, Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset. DDD
NAXOS 8.572050 [64:59]
Experience Classicsonline

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: if you’re one of the politically correct brigade you can stop reading now and pop off and listen to a couple of guys having great fun with their cittarones playing some anonymous 14th century Flemish duets with original performance techniques to the fore.
If, however, you want to hear full-blooded orchestral sound, sumptuous as a warm water-bed, and equally as satisfying, then stay with me, shout “Political correctness be damned!” and enjoy this disk.
Stokowski, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is still thought of by many as a charlatan, who was less of a musician than a self–serving showman. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stokowski was one of the great conductors whose every breathing thought was for music – forget Mickey Mouse, Deanna Durbin and the many women with whom he was associated – and for bringing unusual, unjustly neglected and new works to the public’s attention. As organist and director of the choir at St Bartholomew’s Church in New York City, from 1905, he would have known and played many of Bach’s organ works. His desire for them to be better known led to some of his transcriptions – and they were made by him, not by an anonymous hand with Stokowski simply signing the completed manuscripts. This was done in order to bring them into the concert halls, and to a larger music-loving public. The same applies to the many other transcriptions he made of other works by Bach and other composers. In light of this, his well known “touching-up” of acknowledged scores by later composers cannot be seen as mere tampering. His love of the music, and expertise in orchestral technique and sound, made him feel free to aid the composer who didn’t have at his disposal the resources that Stokowski had at his. Added to all this is the fact that as a conductor - and I admit that I have only ever heard recordings of the man’s work, I was never blessed with experiencing one of his performances in the flesh - his performances are quite electrifying. They always grab the listener with his sincerity and sheer enthusiasm.
Stokowski made many recordings of his transcriptions over the years. Some of his earliest Philadelphia recordings are now available on a four CD Music and Arts set (CD-1173). These are obviously the touchstone by which all other recordings must stand, or fall. This is a marvellously varied collection of well, and less well, known Stokowski transcriptions ranging from the gloriously technicoloured Toccata and Fugue in D minor to the delightful, and quite beautiful, “Boccherini Minuet”.
As recently as January this year I was privileged to hear a magnificent Tchaikovsky concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Josť Serebrier. The passion and depth he brought to the music-making on that occasion was intense and very exciting. He brings the same qualities to bear on these performances. Serebrier knew and worked with Stokowski – he was one of the two assistant conductors on Stokowski’s recording of Ives’s monumental 4th Symphony. Stokowski also conducted composer Serebrier’s 1st Symphony. His knowledge of Stokowski, the man and the musician shines through in these performances.
And what of this disk? It’s fantastic. Do not be without it. I can confirm, without hesitation, that these performances can stand comparison with Stokowski’s own recordings. Great orchestral playing, superb direction, fantastic sound and very good notes, by Edward Johnson, CEO of the Stokowski Society. What more could you want? Fabulous.
Bob Briggs

Reviews of other Stokowski transcriptions on Naxos
Bach Volume 1


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