One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

TROUBADISC

colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
Vivaldi
9 cello sonatas
Dussek
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley n/a
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!


Quite splendid


Winning performances


Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc


a huge talent


A wonderful disc


Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!


Roth’s finest Mahler yet


Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Finlandia, Op 26 [6:50]
The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22 No. 2 [8:33]
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 [28:05]
Valse Triste, Op. 44 No. 1 [4:29]
Berceuse, Op. 109, No. 8 [2:36]
Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105 [22:01]*
Jascha Heifetz (violin)
Philadelphia Orchestra, All-American Youth Orchestra*/Leopold Stokowski
rec. 1929-1940
Concerto & symphony previously unpublished*
GUILD GHCD2428 [73:22]

Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) is a conductor well-served on CD, with a steady stream of new material, both live and studio, elbowing its way into the catalogue. Pristine Audio and Music and Arts have made some notable contributions of late. Likewise, Guild are meeting demand with some impressive releases that have been favourably reviewed here. As a tribute to mark the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’ birth in 1865, the Swiss label has recently issued this disc containing performances recorded by Stokowski between 1929 and 1940. The highlight must surely be a previously unpublished recording of the Violin Concerto with Jascha Heifetz.

In the 1920s and 1930s Stokowski was something of a champion of Sibelius, an advocacy likewise shared by Frederick Stock and Serge Koussevitsky (review). At the time, he had made quite a name for himself in Philadelphia, a post he had held since 1912, and had gained international recognition. Yet, of the three conductors, he led the way in promoting the composer, premiering his last three symphonies with the Philadelphians. Sibelius became an integral part of his repertoire, once the electrical recording era had taken a foothold. The earliest foray into the Sibelian oeuvre was his 1929 recording of The Swan of Tuonela; it was the work’s first ever recording. By all accounts, the sessions were hurriedly assembled. Marcel Tabuteau, the principal oboist was given a day’s notice to borrow a cor anglais and learn the part. The result can be heard here. Stokowski coaxes some magical playing from the orchestra in what is a truly captivating performance. Tabuteau’s mournful depiction of the mythical swan gliding around Tuonela, the island of the dead is particularly alluring.

The previously unreleased Violin Concerto from 24 December 1934, has particular value in that it was the only time Heifetz and Stokowski collaborated. Quite why the violinist refused to allow its issue remains a mystery, and maybe this sealed the fate of any further association between the two. A year later, Heifetz recorded the Concerto with Sir Thomas Beecham for HMV (review) – a recording that, to my knowledge, has never been out of the catalogue. Many of the violinist’s trademarks inform the performance. He constantly drives forward, keeping up the momentum. You get the impression, for instance at 2:48 in the slow movement, that Stokowski is trying to pull back the tempo and restore some sort of equilibrium. Maybe this, in the violinist’s mind, was a lack of a shared vision. Then there’s the flawless technique, immaculate intonation and achievement of an infinite variety of tone colour. The propulsive finale is exciting and spectacular, Heifetz’s peerless technical equipment very much in evidence. The release is worth buying for the Concerto alone.

The Seventh Symphony we have here from 22 September 1940 is Stokowski’s only studio recording of the work. It was the second recording of the Symphony, the first being a live version with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitsky (review) set down in May 1933. The orchestra is the All-American Youth Orchestra, formed by Stokowski when his contract with the Philadelphians expired in 1940; it was made up of players aged 18-25, and was short-lived. In December 1941, America entered the war, and the young men became eligible for military service, however, they did make some recordings before they disbanded. The performance here is nicely paced, and is underpinned by a distinctive rawness and grandeur. The strings are subtle and flexible, with Stokowski instinctively shaping the lines. Throughout he keeps a tight rein on this one movement structure, enabling it to unfold naturally. Guild have also issued a live recording of the Seventh with Stokowski from Helsinki, 17 June 1953 (GHCD2341 - review). I haven’t heard it to compare.

Finlandia from April 1930 is taken on a brisk outing, full of energy and vigour. The short Valse Triste and Berceuse are welcome additions, both given lyrically shaped and well-managed readings.

Stephen Greenbank

 

 



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger