Did anyone approach Stokowski for prolific recordings? There are currently 16 CDs sitll in print of his Wagner. This Phase 4 collection gathers an hour's worth of familiar excerpts from 1966, when the conductor was 84, plus an added 1972 Meistersinger Prelude that is live. The results are broad, romantic, and thrilling. I went for the cinematic sound (except in the Ride of the Valkyries, where the piccolo hovers like a giant banshee). Would Wagner have objected to hearing his music twice as large as life?
The prevailing style here is extroverted and unsubtle, but Stokowski was a serious Wagnerian, and his unthrottled conducting stays musically in bounds (barely). The 1972 Meistersinger excerpt, made at age 90, brings us back to realistic orchestral sound, and I must say Stokowski acquits himself magnificently. Hats off and a smile for the old rogue.