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CD Review

Living Era Classic

The Philadelphia Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
AS&V (Sanctuary) Living Era Classics AJC8552 71m ADD
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This recording of Dvořák's 'New World' Symphony has been a classic for as long as anyone can remember and it has rarely strayed out of the catalogue. This new release includes a fascinating three minute talk by the conductor explaining the various themes that permeate the work although Stokowski's explanation is of rather doubtful provenance.

The symphony is accorded the fantasy and vision that it undoubtedly deserves. The opening Adagio-allegro molto is replete with nostalgia and the music moves along in typical Stokowskian fashion. The Largo is also beautifully paced with an unbearable tinge of longing permeating this famous piece of music. I also enjoyed the Scherzo and Finale that are full of energy and vitality, making one forget the sound which is admittedly dated but not such to detract from the enjoyment of the music making.

The CD is also interesting in terms of encores that include a number of Stokowski favourites. Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody is suitably bucolic whilst there is also a rarity in the form of Novacek's Perpetuum Mobile transcribed by Stoki himself. Enescu's famous Romanian Rhapsody #1 also sparkles with energy and vitality.

The recordings have come up trumps although they are admittedly rather constricted in range but one has to remember that they are early electrics although the Enescu dates from 1947 and is in much better sonics. A short yet informative essay by David Patmore rounds off this fine disc that is a memorial to the greatness of Leopold Stokowski.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech