These are early stereo recordings from 1956-57, a time when Angel Records used Capitol (Frank Sinatra's label) as its American distributor. Capitol did miserably by them, supplying us with execrable pressings of great recordings. They also had their own limited clssical division, from which came these two recordings of The Planets and Verklarte Nacht. Though clear and open, this remastering can't compete with the best modern sonics for immediacy and impact.
In a way that's to the good. Stokowski doesn't pump The Planets up on steroids; despite his carnival turn in Fantasia, Stokowski was a real musician, and here he brings out the lyrical quality in Holst's writing--the second movement, Venus, has the gossamer delicacy of Debussy. Mars is quite low-key compared to the march into the Rhineland under Karajan. The recording is fairly distant, and the Los Angeles Phil. from that era sounds fairly thin and ragged--it wouldn't be rejuvenated until Mehta joined up in the Sixties. Three stars.
The exciting thing here is the Schonberg Verklarte Nacht, something of a specialty with Stokowski, who loved to champion modernism as long as it was tonal. The strings that play the here are from "His Symphony Orchestra," hand-picekd studio musicians brought together to showcase Stokowski. They do a bang-up job, playing with free rhythm, gorgeous tone, and exciting accents. This is a fully committed Verklarte Nacht brought out of its post-romantic haze. Five stars.