These are beautiful Columbia recordings from Stokowski's last year, recorded in the spring of 1977. Stokowski died in September, 1977 (I remember this event, as a freshman in college just several weeks into the Fall semester), yet there is no sign here of any waning power or lessening of Stokowski's magic touch.
The Mendelssohn "Italian" Symphony, the most recorded and famous of his 5 symphonies, here benefits from Stokowski's emphasis on rich, full orchestral sound, and Romantic sensibility. This is very straightforward for Stokowski, but a Romantic feeling is everywhere, as opposed to a more Classical approach in the manner of Szell or Abbado. Tempos are not too fast, and IV, the "Saltarello",taken at a blistering pace by some conductors, is here more moderate, but the excitement and intensity are there! Orchestral color, the variety of tone colors from strings and woodwinds are emphasized, and everywhere present. Beautiful.
The Brahms Symphony 2 also benefits from Stokowski's treatment. I uses the repeat (not played by many famous conductors, including Bruno Walter and William Steinberg), while II is intense and rather dark. III and IV are on the Moderato side, but what Stokowski does within these tempos is what's important. This Brahms 2 reminds me of Bruno Walter's excellent Columbia Symphony recording (Sony) but with a better orchestra and more emphasis on orchestral color, like the Mendelssohn.
These Columbia recordings belong to the Leopold Stokowski Society, and since Sony Classical would not release them, the Society licensed them to Cala for release. I am thankful they did, and when you hear this highly recommendable disc, you will be, also.