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Brahms: Symphony No. 2; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. ("Italian") [Import]

National Philharmonic Orchestra , conductor Leopold Stokowski Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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1. Symphony No.4 In A, Op.90 'Italian': I. Allegro Vivace
2. Symphony No.4 In A, Op.90 'Italian': II. Andante Con Moto
3. Symphony No.4 In A, Op.90 'Italian': III. Con Moto Moderato
4. Symphony No.4 In A, Op.90 'Italian': IV. Saltarello: Presto
5. Symphony No.2 In D, Op.73: I. Allegro Non Troppo
6. Symphony No.2 In D, Op.73: II. Adagio Non Troppo
7. Symphony No.2 In D, Op.73: III. Allegretto Gracioso
8. Symphony No.2 In D, Op.73: IV. Allegro Con Spirito

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic Brahms and Lighthearted Mendelssohn May 18 2004
Format:Audio CD
If you are searching for a truly great recording of the Brahms 2 and have laready heard the classics by Walter, Barbirolli, Szell and Steinberg, you will still need to add this to your collection. One of Stoky's last recordings of his career, it was recorded for CBS in 1977. Thanks to the Stokowski Society licensing the mastertapes from Sony Music, this recording has never sounded better. Nice wide separation and beautiful balancing. Stokowski's reading has a soft, lush quality. The string tone is so warm and lush, it will give you goose bumps. Stokowski is nowhere near as aggressive as Ketesz in his reading for Decca. Also of note, for the first time in his long career, Stokowski observes the exposition repeat for both the symphonies. Also absent are any changes in the score. Those of you who know Stokowski well may find this surprising, but he still delivers a great performance. The second movement is peaceful and calming. The fourth movement, known for it's drive at the coda is taken at a perfect pace with out exaggerating the intensity in the brass. A wonderful reading. The Mendelssohn is also blessed with wonderful singing strings and taken at the perfect tempo. Mendelssohn was frequently absent from Stoky's concerts and recordings, so we should be grateful he chose to record this before his death. This is a great release with top notch remastering and updated liner notes. Grab this one!
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic Brahms and Lighthearted Mendelssohn May 18 2004
By Brian H. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If you are searching for a truly great recording of the Brahms 2 and have laready heard the classics by Walter, Barbirolli, Szell and Steinberg, you will still need to add this to your collection. One of Stoky's last recordings of his career, it was recorded for CBS in 1977. Thanks to the Stokowski Society licensing the mastertapes from Sony Music, this recording has never sounded better. Nice wide separation and beautiful balancing. Stokowski's reading has a soft, lush quality. The string tone is so warm and lush, it will give you goose bumps. Stokowski is nowhere near as aggressive as Ketesz in his reading for Decca. Also of note, for the first time in his long career, Stokowski observes the exposition repeat for both the symphonies. Also absent are any changes in the score. Those of you who know Stokowski well may find this surprising, but he still delivers a great performance. The second movement is peaceful and calming. The fourth movement, known for it's drive at the coda is taken at a perfect pace with out exaggerating the intensity in the brass. A wonderful reading. The Mendelssohn is also blessed with wonderful singing strings and taken at the perfect tempo. Mendelssohn was frequently absent from Stoky's concerts and recordings, so we should be grateful he chose to record this before his death. This is a great release with top notch remastering and updated liner notes. Grab this one!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Columbia recordings from Stokowski's last year Aug. 22 2005
By Alan Majeska - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly respectable readings from a very old Stokowski June 8 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Two conductors I esteem for performing into their nineties are Pablo Casals, captured live at the Marlboro Festival, and Stokowski, who continued to make studio recordings when he was 95 -- here are two examples from that year, 1977. The orchestra is a pickup band of first-rate London professionals working under the name of the National Philharmonic -- they made dozens of opera and film score recordings for Decca and RCA -- and the sound quality is good. I'd love to say that Stokowski's (nearly) last bow was remarkable, but I don't find it so. Despite the glowing reviews here, and the adjectives used by the Gramophone when Cala released this CD in 2002 ("...the results are electrifying, full of charisma, vitality and warmth") these sound like fairly relaxed readings of the Mendelssohn "Italian" and Brahms Sym. #2, with no signs of charisma or special magic.

The Mendelssohn is marked by an appealing gracefulness that one usually didn't associate with Stokowski. The Brahms is made of sterner stuff, however, and relaxed gracefulness isn't nearly enough. Stokowski seemed beyond exerting much control in these sessions, but I wouldn't attribute this entirely to advanced age. Stokowski's charisma worked best outside the confines of the German classics, and although he conducted literally everything, there wasn't enough elbow room in Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms to excite is juices. There are exceptions, of course, but these two readings aren't. They suffer form the one sin Stokowski was never guilty of when he flew high, the sin of respectability.
5.0 out of 5 stars How could he do it? Nov. 30 2013
By David M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Flowing, mellifluous accounts, among the last recordings by the amazing, seemingly ever young Stokowski, and the sound quality should satisfy most listeners.
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