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Russian music
from Stokowski -
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'The recordings do not show half a century of wear ...'

Stokowski - Mussorgsky: Night on a Bare Mountain. © 2007 Cala Records Ltd

Lovers of Stokowski's performances will not expect every score to be played quite as written, especially when he is presenting some of his favourite Russian repertory, and with Mussorgsky and Borodin his opinions on applying the cosmetics must be just as valid as those of Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov, Glazunov, and several later composers who have 'helped the scores into the light of day'. Stokowski's vigorous enthusiasm may, to some ears, get the better him, though I am sure Mussorgsky, being around now, would enjoy his Night on a Bare Mountain as much as ever [listen -- track 1, 1:34-2:43].

The recordings on this latest issue by the Leopold Stokowski Society are almost all from 1953 when his association with the New York Philharmonic was coming to an end and several of the principals joined his orchestra for these performances (interestingly, John Corigliano was his leader). His unbounded energy was still able to drive the orchestra along with a vengeance. The performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture is as dynamic and fascinating as ever, introducing a bass soloist (Nicola Moscona) to provide a full recitative in place of the original trombone [listen -- track 5, 6:46-7:59] and inducing some firework crescendi at the end [listen -- track 5, 12:02-13:34].

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Copyright © 28 October 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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