- Audio CD (Nov. 23 1998)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: RCA Classics/Bmg
- ASIN: B00000F1BS
- Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,166 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
I was wrong. In 1997, RCA totally reorganized and inventoried its massive vaults, which had been in disarray for decades. As a result, many original sources which had been declared "lost" were now "found." This new remastering is strikingly improved sonically over all earlier issues. Utilizing the best technology now available, RCA has also done the right thing by hiring a musician--conductor Ed Houser--rather than whiz-bang technicians to supervise the remastering. The NBC Symphony Orchestra now sounds better than ever before, with smoother strings, fuller winds, and less blotting out during fortissimos.
Perhaps no conductor of the 20th Century has been as misunderstood as Arturo Toscanini, as evidenced by the critical backlash with which he was assailed in the years after his death. That criticism was partly in reaction to the equally unbalanced adulation heaped upon him during his lifetime. I remember once mentioning to an acquaintance my admiration for Toscanini's Beethoven and Brahms, and he shot back, "He conducts everything too fast!" In fact, in comparison with other recordings and broadcasts of his era, Toscanini's conducting was not generally faster than average. In relation to TODAY'S phlegmatic tempos, however, Toscanini's pacing is definitely brisk.Read more ›
The Beethoven ninth symphony was a work the Maestro loved and was featured in a number of concerts over the years. He made it clear to his friends and colleagues that he was never satisfied with his performances of the work. He admitted that sometimes the soloists were bad, sometimes the orchestra, and sometimes himself. Finally, in 1952, he recorded the work in Carnegie Hall following a broadcast concert. Toscanini was satisfied enough with this recording to allow it to be released. It's true there are some things in earlier recorded performances that are quite admirable, but this is the version that Toscanini approved. He was 85 years old and he said he was finally beginning to understand this masterpiece. He assembled a fine group of soloists and once again used the Robert Shaw Chorale, a rather small but outstanding group that had first worked with him in a broadcast performance of the ninth in 1945. There's no doubt that all of the musical forces in this recording worked very hard to please the Maestro and he was satisfied with his own work.
I find that the Maestro achieves the mysterious, dramatic qualities Beethoven intended in the first movement. The second movement is spritely and spirited as Toscanini really masters the lively scherzo. Then comes the profound third movement, so filled with longing and hoping. Beethoven rejects all previous attempts at dealing with life in the fourth movement, leading to the bass singing, "O Friends, not these sounds." The orchestra has already introduced us to the main theme of the "Ode to Joy," which is now sung by the bass and then the chorus.Read more ›