Mendelssohn and Brahms -
with DAVID THOMPSON
'They were clearly devoted to the old wizard, and they play their hearts out for him.'
You would be hard-put indeed to find a more joyous and life-affirming
experience than listening to this disc. All the more amazing, then, to find
that the performances enshrined here were conducted by a man over ninety-five
years of age. The legendary Leopold Stokowski recorded these two familiar
symphonies in London, in May and June 1977, just a few months before his
death, and both the performances and the recordings come up as fresh as
The old maestro attracted a fair amount of criticism in his time for
the liberties he sometimes took with the music he conducted, and for performances
that could sometimes be quirky and eccentric. He was, it is true, an individual,
and a 'character', but he was also a musician to his very bones, full of
heart and passion, and possessing a genius for inspiring those who played
under him to radiate the sheer joy he felt in making music.
There is nothing here, however, that needs to be taken with the cautionary
pinch of salt. These are marvellous performances that radiate optimism,
warmth and joie-de-vivre.
Copyright © 22 May 2002
David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK
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