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CD Review

Stokowski Conducts

All-Russian Program

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and choruses/Leopold Stokowski
BBC Legends BBCL4069-2 76m ADD
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This is 'Stoki' in his element, an all- Russian programme of popular favourites that tends to raise the roof in its spirit of vitality and sheer energy. 'Night on the Bare Mountain' fairly growls with menacing vigour whilst the Glinka 'Kamarinskaya' comes alive with vintage power, a tribute to the RPO's corporate vitality. The short items by Stravinsky and Shostakovitch are lovingly played and dispatched with a certain flair. The big moment is definitely Tchaikovsky's 1812, a party piece for Stoki and with the massed Grenadier Guards band, no one can fail not to be moved by the sheer intensity of the interpretation, indeed the level of excitement reached towards the end is well nigh unforgettable.

The concert also tests the octagenarian's levels of endurance with another great interpretation of Scriabin's 'Poem of Ecstasy', this was another favourite, indeed Stokowski's live version is definitely one of the must-haves with its sheer momentum. The Lyadov folksongs are also winningly dispatched whilst the rousing 'Polovtsian Dances' conclude the programme with a bang. Michael Jameson writes a very charismatic and informative tribute on the conductor, which surely demands reading and the remastering of the concert is fine. Sound will certainly not detract any self respecting Stoki admirer to snap this issue up.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech