Here from 1953 is a program that brings out Stokowski's relish for colorful Russian music - and when it wasn't colorful enough, he splashed on liberal doses form his own paint pot. That's what befalls A Night on Bald Mountain, delivered in a garish retouching that feels cartoonish, no surprise since Stokowski used his own arrangement in Disney's fantasia (it's closer to what Beecham called a derangement). The performance is a hoot in its goopy, soupy way, but it reinforces the disdain that serious reviewers had for Stokowski at the time. They made it seem as if he distorted everything he touched, which is far form true.
Another retouch job, on a dance from Borodin's Prince Igor, is similarly garish, and the sound, although quite natural and clean, features a boomy resonance. But this program was aimed at the postwar audience and its clamoring taste for classical pops, for which Stokowski was the gold standard. so the extra resonance, which is part of each item, may be a bit too reminiscent of Mantovani today. That doesn't detract from these spotlit recordings if you have a taste for them. "His" Symphony was drawn from a mixture of first-desk NY Phil. musicians and free lances. One only wishes for a larger string body. I'm always happy to catch up with another Cala release in their long, valuable collaboration with the Leopold Stokowski Society in England.
MUSSORGSKY: A Night on Bare Mountain (orch. Stokowski); Suite from Khovantchina
BORODIN: In the Steppes of Central Asia; Dance of the Polovetzki Maidens from Prince Igor (arr. Stokowski)
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36
GLIERE: Russian Sailors’ Dance from The Red Poppy, Op. 70
TCHAIKOVSKY: Polonaise from Eugen Onegin, Op. 24
Nicolo Moscona, bass (Rimsky-Korsakov)/ Symphony Orchestra and Women’s Chorus/ Leopold Stokowski