13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Michael Brad Richman
- Published on Amazon.com
It's sad that the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" reissue series has not gotten more attention, because it has my vote for the best reissue program thus far of the 21st Century. Drawing from the archives of all the major classical labels (EMI, Sony, BMG, DG, Decca, Philips, Supraphon, etc.), EMI and IMG Artists have assembled a wonderful series of affordable two-disc sets by the leading conductors of the last century. And unlike its counterpart, "The Great Pianists of the 20th Century," which are basically compilations of material already available on other CDs, the "Great Conductors" features rare and, for the most part, previously unreleased performances! And as if that wasn't enough, the most recent volumes (beginning with no. 25) are now available at mid-line instead of full-price!
This particular CD, Volume 31, features the great Artur Rodzinski, and as the track information is not very clear above, allow me to tell what is contained in this fine collection. This 2CD set begins with Rodzinski performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian Easter" Overture and Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" Prelude (both from recorded in 1958). Next we go back in time to Rodzinski's tenure with the New York Philharmonic and an excellent account of Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony, though from 1945 it is the collection's poorest in terms of sound quality. CD1 wraps up with Rossini's "William Tell" Overture (Columbia SO, 1950). The second disc is dedicated in its entirety to the works of Wagner and Strauss. The selections from "The Valkyrie" and "Twilight of the Gods" were recorded in 1955 with the Royal Philharmonic, while the "Tristan und Isolde" excerpts are with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1947. The Strauss recordings, along with the Russian works on disc one, are among Rodzinski's final recordings, in this case with the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1957-8.
Whether you are a serious collector of classical music or a beginner, the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" has something for everyone. If the prized, rare performances don't excite you, then use this as an opportunity to check out one of the greatest conductors ever recorded. Chances are, since stores are offering increasingly homogenized classical music sections, this conductor might not be in your collection. And that would truly be a shame.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Robert T. Martin
- Published on Amazon.com
Rodzinski was an original who doesn't have a significant discography and certainly not one on a major label. The selections come from 1945 (the Rachmaninov Second Symphony) to the year of his death, 1958 (the Richard Strauss pieces) so the sound varies quite a bit but the transfers here are all pretty good even if they don't represent the highest sonic quality available for their time. The performances however are very good. The William Tell Overture is incredibly exciting, the Rachmaninov (in a cut performance considered perfectly acceptable for the time) is lean but intense and the Wagner excerpts are maybe too quick but are certainly individual and have considerable power. I can't say I would rate any of the performances first choices except perhaps the Russian Easter Overture which is pretty overwhelming and also has the best sound. I've always liked Rodzinski's work and this release is welcome. It appears to be available solely from third party sellers but is worth seeking particularly for people interested in exploring the amazing conducting talent working during the mid-20th century.
By the way several years ago EMI issued a two disc set of the maestro's recordings under their Artist Profile series. That set included the Russian Easter, Khovanschina Prelude, Dance of the Seven Veils and Death and Transfiguration which are included in the CD under review here. The Artist Profile discs did not include the Rachmaninov nor the Wagner. However, it did have outstanding performances of Falla's Ritual Fire Dance, excerpts from the Three Cornered Hat and orchestral arrangements of works by Granados and Albeniz. These are wonderful, highly atmospheric performances in gorgeous, wide ranging and weighty sound. Also included is a first rate Russlan and Ludmilla overture and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet. This compilation is out of print. However, it is available from ArkivMusic.com They apparently have obtained license to burn the CD's from EMI. This set would rate an unequivocal 5 stars.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mary Jo Magar
- Published on Amazon.com
The "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" series is one of the best "deals" to be found in classical selection. All the recordings are amazingly remastered, and even where the sound quality is poor, there is the unmistakable quality of a past standard of excellence, both in orchestration and production, that is difficult to match today, despite so much technology. It is as though global fascination and reliance on technology has dehumanized much of cultural expression. In fact, a perfect metaphor for this entire series lies in Strauss' tone poem "Tod und Verklarung," so beautifully presented on this particular CD (Volume 31) of the great Artur Rodzinski: the "resurrection" of these rare recordings at least sweetens, however lamentably, the "death" of their times.