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CD Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Missa Solemnis Op. 125
  • Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Jussi Bjoerling
Zinka Milanov
Bruna Castagna
Alexander Kipnis
Jascha Heifetz, violin
Westminster Choir
NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini
Guild GHCD2248/9 121m DDD
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Guild's admirable Toscanini edition continues with this sterling and much awaited remastering of the 1940 Missa Solemnis that has often been hailed as his best version. With such a splendid team of soloists on offer, I would be inclined to agree after repeated listenings that confirm Guild's superior sonics.

The Missa is discussed at length in William Youngren's superb essay that is essential reading for the Toscanini enthusiast. The Italian maestro's account has long been hailed as a great version, the mass is brought to life in the craggy architectural grandeur, rather like the effortless climbing of a gigantic mountain.

Purists may not agree with the drastic remastering methods used in this recording but the NBC Orchestra fairly leaps out of the CDs with the soloists also on great form throughout. The Heifetz version of the Violin Concerto is also worth having as it finds the soloist in complete rapport with his conductor especially in the burgeoning opening movement.

I always enjoy Guild's extensive notes and biographies and this one features an essay on Robert Hupka, the great Jewish photographer. This is another outstanding historical document that continues to spread the Toscanini legend.

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech