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Infectious delight

Stokowski conducts
Vivaldi and Handel -
reviewed by

'His approach was clearly monumental.'

Stokowski - The Four Seasons - Messiah. © 1966 Decca, 2004 Cala Records Ltd

In the summer of 1966 Stokowski, at the age of 84, was in London to record and to appear at the 'Proms', as bright and energetic as ever, and surprisingly coming to Vivaldi's Seasons for the first time in his long career. His approach was clearly monumental. Not for him the cautious fastidiousness of what was then a very fashionable 'authenticity'.

With Hugh Bean, the distinguished leader of the Philharmonia, as his soloist, nothing could go wrong, and the infectious delight of the performance comes over well in this remastered Decca recording. Notable to our ears now is the contrast between Bean and his concertante ensemble, and the full string orchestra, evident in this extract from the opening of Summer [listen -- CD 1 track 4, 1:15-2:33]. closing with its gentle diminuendo and the pointed descending cello notes.

The beautifully realized harpsichord (played by Charles Spinks) sounds magical with the full strings [listen -- CD 1 track 8, 0:00-1:08] and Hugh Bean creates ample warmth in the depth of Winter [listen -- CD 1 track 11, 0:00-1:02]. A very bright recording and musically exciting.

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Copyright © 24 April 2005 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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