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Toscanini Collection Box set

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 8 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 85
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Music Canada Inc.
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,886 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Limited 85 disc (84 CDs + DVD) box set. Back by popular demand, The Toscanini Collection is a reissue of RCA's 1992 compendium that encompassed all of the recordings Toscanini made with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and NBC Symphony.

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Format: Audio CD
I am not a big fan of Arturo Toscanini (certainly not an unconditional admirer), but as man and musician he was undeniably important. Apart from his importance in terms of influence and popularity, he did set some standards that are worth maintaining. His fixation on precision could get wearisome, but orchestral standards have risen, partly due to him, partly for many other reasons. There is an high enough proportion of great, fine, or interesting recorded performances in Toscanini`s output to make having a complete set of his R.C.A. Victor studio recordings, available together in a single package like this one, a most desirable acquisition for one`s collection.

Most of all, however, Toscanini`s greatness, for me, lies in how superbly well he conducted and interpreted the repertory of composers for whom he had the most affinity. First of all, LUIGI CHERUBINI. Toscanini did much to kick-start the revival of interest in Cherubini`s music that, fortunately, has continued. Toscanini`s recordings, however, do suffer from the sound in which they were captured. Cherubini`s music is beautifully orchestrated, so the potential charm of hearing such fine interpretations of Cherubini`s lone symphony and of the overtures to his operas which Toscanini chose to record (and to conduct publicly frequently in his concerts and broadcasts) is limited by the pale sound, which does so much to undermine these recordings. As for the great Requiem in C Minor, the choral-orchestral balances are even more damaging, the cunningly orchestrated accompaniment at times all but inaudible when the chorus is singing (that is, most of the time). Nonethess, Toscanini was a giant in this repertory!
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I am a Toscanini fanatic, so I will keep it low-key and say only about his conducting that it is important for any classical music lover to know how he conducted the great classics, whether that person ultimately loves this or that particular interpretation. Toscanini's role in the history of conducting is objectively huge, and his interpretations had a huge impact on millions of people. For most people in the first half of the 20th century, including most conductors of that time, he was the greatest -- the Maestro of maestros.

This is an excellent value and the sound is generally very good, considering (a) the dates of the recordings; and (b) the not-so-good recording engineering that was used for Toscanini. It is a frugal set, without individual commentaries and without the libretti for the operas.

You will never never never hear an Otello, a Falstaff, a La Boheme, a La Traviata, a Verdi (or Cherubini) Requiem, a Beethoven Eroica (1939 and 1953 -- both different and both great), a Beethoven 7th (1936), a Beethoven 9th, a Schubert 9th (1942 and 1953, both different and both great), a Dvorak New World, a Pictures at an Exhibition, as you will find in this set!
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This collection is one man's genius put into sound. No wonder the orchestras who were under his baton respected him so much!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xbb6b3f54) out of 5 stars 46 reviews
187 of 192 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1c88f6c) out of 5 stars MOSTLY GOOD NEWS, SOME BAD NEWS (in the UK) July 10 2012
By John Fowler the Obsessive Compulsive Reviewer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
When I was a "youth" in Chicago in the sixties, EMI used to infuriate American teens by making us wait several weeks before releasing the US version of each new Beatles album (creating a black-market for imported LPs).
The record companies are still at it: This time Sony released the Toscanini Collection in the UK in April, but made us Yanks wait until July.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The first UK pressings had a major screw-up.

In 1992 RCA/BMG released the first 82 CD Toscanini Collection.
That is the template upon which the new Toscanini Collection was assembled.

In 1999 RCA/BMG issued twelve 2 CD sets of Toscanini in new, 20-bit transfers. Most people thought these were an improvement over the 16-bit transfers of 1992. *
In 2006 Toscanini's Philadelphia Orchestra recordings were issued in new transfers.
Finally in 2008 Sony Japan issued 15 CDs worth of transfers on Japanese JVC XRCDs [most of this material overlapped with the 1999 20-bit transfers]. JVC XRCDs are highly valued by collectors - I could never afford them.

If you're adding this up, approximately one third of the 1992 set was re-done in new and improved transfers.
Of course, in an ideal world, someone would have re-mastered the remaining 2/3 using the latest technology, but this is not an ideal world.

GOOD NEWS: Sony took the 1992 Collection as a template, and inserted the new and improved masterings onto the appropriate CDs. Can't complain about that.

GOOD NEWS: The price is unbelievably low.
In 1992, the 82 CD box sold for $1200. Today the 84 CD + 1 DVD box sells for $125. This is simply amazing.
Every civilized person should own this set.
A Monument to Western Civilization.


BAD NEWS: ATTENTION UK READERS. This is the most serious blunder.

In the first batch of pressings released in the UK and Europe, the 1949 studio recording of Beethoven's Symphony 3 "Eroica" was MISSING.
The 1949 Eroica was supposed to be on CD1.
Instead, the 1953 broadcast appeared twice: on CD1 (mislabeled as 1949) and on CD29 (where it belongs).

[For a detailed explanation of how this came to be, see the comments section at the end of this review - comment dated July 10, 2012].

If you need a quick test of whether you have the 1949 or 1953 Eroica, there is a 20 second difference in the timings of the first movement:

1949 = 13:46
1953 = 14:06

Also, the engineer retained audience noise between movements of the 1953 performance.
This is most audible between movements 3 and 4.

The missing 1949 Eroica on CD1 was corrected in later pressings, including the North American release.
If you have the bad CD1, and ordered it from Amazon UK, contact to see about getting a replacement CD1.
If you ordered from an independent dealer, there is no uniform replacement policy.
Contact your dealer: you may have to return the entire 84 CD box, and get a new 84 CD box. Wasteful stupidity.
To date, Sony has been ignoring customer's inquiries.

[Past experience: My 60 CD Bernstein Symphony Edition came with one missing CD and two duplicate CDs.
I tried to contact Sony to arrange an exchange of CDs, but they would not acknowledge my existence.
Ended up returning the whole 60 CD box in exchange for a new 60 CD box. Stupid.]


GOOD NEWS: It comes with a nice book of essays about Toscanini and lots of nice photographs.
In 1992, RCA published a booklet with discographical index to the contents of all 82 CDs, but it was a limited edition.
Today the discographical index is included in the book.
This is important, as the published order of recordings was not and is not alphabetical or chronological.

BAD NEWS: The 1992 program notes are no longer included. They were a model of their kind.

GOOD NEWS: You can get them in book form: "Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years" by Mortimer H. Frank (Amadeus Press, 2002).
It even includes a critical discography cued to the volumes in the old Collection, which are the same volumes as the new Collection.

BAD NEWS: No librettos for the operas and vocal works. This was predictable. Still sad.

BADDISH NEWS: Sony decided to slavishly copy the published sequence of the 1992 edition.

This is taking "original jacket" mania to a ridiculous extreme.
They are not even "original jackets".
Toscanini died in 1957, but the totally arbitrary published order of the 1992 Complete Edition must be respected. Why?

Why not issue the CDs in alphabetical order by composer?
Or chronologically by date of composition (Bach through Shostakovich)?
Or by date of recording (1920 to 1954)?

BAD NEWS: The DVD "Toscanini: The Maestro" features a censored version of Toscanini's wartime film of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations."

Toscanini's wartime film of Verdi's composition expanded Verdi's original, which combined the national anthems of France, Great Britain and Italy, to include the anthems of the Soviet Union (the Internationale) and the United States (the Star-Spangled Banner).
The unabridged audio of the performance is on CD 63, but the DVD of the film eliminates the Soviet anthem entirely.
Actually, this is not Sony's fault - RCA did the censoring back in the 80's when the work was prepared for VHS release.

GOOD NEWS: The complete, uncensored "Hymn of the Nations" is available on DVD.
It was a production of the U.S. Government Department of War Information, so its in the public domain.

If you want to see as well as hear Toscanini conducting the Soviet National Anthem, do a google search for "Berkshire Record Outlet".
Click on "Search Catalog". Under "Keywords" enter "Toscanini", then check the box next to "DVD", then click "Search".
If you're lucky, you will find a 2 DVD-R set on the PDVD label (#PDVD2) titled "Great Conductors" selling for $14.95.
On DVD2, at 13:26 of track 8, you will both see and hear Arturo Toscanini conducting the Soviet National Anthem (Internationale).

I was never a fan of the Soviet Union, but they had a nice anthem. **

BAD NEWS: I completely missed this the first time. The Overture to L'Italiana in Algeri on CD 47 has a truncated openning.

Rossini wrote 21 soft pizzicatti in three groups of six and one group of three: 1-2-3..4-5-6.....1-2-3..4-5-6.....1-2-3..4-5-6.....1-2-3...Orchestra tutti!

CD 47 omitts the first 6 pizzicatti: 1-2-3..4-5-6.....1-2-3..4-5-6.....1-2-3...Orchestra tutti!

The old CD from 1992 is OK; the problem came with the 1999 remastering. I'm surprised no one noticed it until now.
Actually, the abbreviated opening doesn't sound as "wrong" as one might think.
I doubt if Sony will remaster CD 47, but if they do, I'd appreciate it if someone would post a notice in the comments at the end of this review.

DISAPPOINTING NEWS: In their original press release, Sony promised that they would include 2 CDs of previously unreleased Toscanini performances with the BBC Symphony.
That is not the case: These are the same BBC recordings that Biddulph and Naxos have already issued (still nice to have).

ANNOYING NEWS: The 2CD and 3 CD sets are hard to open. Hard to describe the problem, but you'll know what I mean when you handle one.
I have found a drastic solution which works quite well: I used a paper cutter to trim 1/16 of an inch off the two sealed ends.
So long as you have a nice straight cut, it looks totally professional (don't use scissors).

IN SUMMATION: Despite some real problems (especially in the UK), you really should get this set. Especially at the insanely low price.

* It is the majority critical opinion that the new transfers are an improvement over 1992.
I am not going to express an opinion.
I just remembered that I am 63 years old (I try to forget).
I think my hearing is just fine, but that is probably not the case.
After age 50, people gradually loose their ability to hear high frequencies.
Even so, it sounds good to me - always remembering that the originals are 58-92 years old.

** The 2 DVD set also contains videos of other famous conductors. Including the only known existing footage of Leo Borchard.
If you don't know the name, he was Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic for six weeks in 1945 (until he was accidently shot by an American soldier). He succeeded Furtwangler and was succeeded by Celibidache, who was succeeded by Furtwangler (again).

OK, the American soldier didn't "accidently" shoot Leo Borchard.
Borchard was a passenger in a car that ran a roadblock in occupied Berlin.

Moral: Always stop for roadblocks.
84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2860054) out of 5 stars Toscanini's Legacy July 10 2012
By Moonfish - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have been listening through this intriguing collection over the last few months (got it from the UK) as I am a newcomer to Toscanini's vast number of recordings. My musical journey has been quite enjoyable and amazing. The quality of the recordings (depending on the year) are very good and the performances are indeed enticing. This is truly a bargain in terms of getting a broad spectrum exposure to major works through Toscanini's perspective. The Toscanini box is a great set for beginners, collectors as well as (obviously) the countless Toscanini fans! I will return to these recordings on a regular basis! A bargain that comes highly recommended!

In terms of packaging I am quite satisfied with the sturdy rectangular box with each cd in a cardboard sleeve that details the contents on its back-cover. The front covers of the cds contain an endless variation of the maestro himself in black and white photos. The lid of the box lifts straight up, which allows one to scan the content quickly as the content is printed on the edge of each cd sleeve. They stack nicely and sturdily next to each other. No complaints as long as one removes and inserts the cds carefully.


Brief outline of content [from JPC]:
Beethoven: Symphonien Nr. 1-9; Leonore-Ouvertüren Nr. 2 & 3;
Septett op. 20; Egmont-Ouvertüre op. 84; Violinkonzert op. 61;
Klavierkonzerte Nr. 1, 3, 4; Weihe des Hauses-Ouvertüre;
Coriolan-Ouvertüre; Geschöpfe des Prometheus-Ouvertüre;
Fidelio; Missa solemnis op. 123
+Brahms: Symphonien Nr. 1-4; Akademische Festouvertüre
op. 80; Tragische Ouvertüre op. 81; Haydn-Variationen op. 56a;
Konzert für Violine, Cello, Orchester op. 120; Serenade
Nr. 2; Klavierkonzert Nr. 2; Liebeslieder-Walzer op. 52;
Schicksalslied op. 89
+Mozart: Symphonien Nr. 35, 39-41; Ouvertüren zu Figaro & Don Giovanni; Fagottkonzert KV 191; Divertimento Nr. 15
+Haydn: Symphonien Nr. 88, 94, 98, 99, 101; Sinfonia
concertante H1: 105
+Schubert: Symphonien Nr. 5, 8, 9
+Schumann: Symphonie Nr. 4; Manfred-Ouvertüre
+Weber: Freischütz-Ouvertüre; Oberon-Ouvertüre;
Aufforderung zum Tanz
+Mendelssohn: Symphonien Nr. 4 & 5; Sommernachtstraum op. 21
& 61; Oktett op. 20
+Tschaikowsky: Symphonie Nr. 6; Nussknacker-Suite;
Manfred-Symphonie op. 58; Romeo & Julia; Klavierkonzert Nr. 1
+Franck: Symphonie d-moll; Psyche Nr. 4
+Saint-Saens: Symphonie Nr. 3 "Orgelsymphonie"; Danse
+Dvorak: Symphonie Nr. 9
+Sibelius: Symphonie Nr. 2; Pojolas Tochter; Der Schwan von
Tuonela; Finlandia
+Schostakowitsch: Symphonien Nr. 1 & 7
+Kodaly: Hary Janos-Suite
+Smetana: Die Moldau
+Cherubini: Symphonie D-Dur; Ali Baba-Ouvertüre
+Cimarosa: Matrimonio segreto-Ouvertüre; Matrimonio per
+Prokofieff: Symphonie Nr. 1
+Glinka: Kamarinskaya
+Liadov: Kikimora
+Strawinsky: Petruschka (Ausz.)
+Strauss: Don Quixote; Tod & Verklärung; Don Juan; Till
Eulenspiegel; Schleiertanz aus Salome
+Wagner: Siegfried-Idyll; Orchesterstücke, Arien & Szenen
+Berlioz: Harold en Italie; Romeo & Juliette; Römischer
Karneval; Rakoczy Marsch
+Bizet: L'Arlesienne-Suite; Carmen-Suite
+Mussorgsky: Bilder einer Ausstellung
+Elgar: Enigma-Variations
+Debussy: La mer; Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune;
Iberia; Nuages; Fetes
+Gershwin: An American in Paris
+Sousa: El Capitan; Stars and Stripes forever
+Grofe: Grand Canyon Suite
+Barber: Adagio for Strings
+Ravel: Daphnis & Chloe-Suite Nr. 2
+Dukas: Der Zauberlehrling
+Gluck: Iphigenie-Ouvertüre;: Reigen seliger Geister
+Rossini: Ouvertüren zu L'Italiana, Signor Bruschino,
Barbier, Cenerentola, Gazza ladra, Siege de Corinthe,
Semiramide, W. Tell
+Puccini: La Boheme
+Verdi: Aida; Falstaff; Otello; Un Ballo in Maschera; La
Traviata; Requiem; Te Deum
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa28600cc) out of 5 stars The biggest Toscanini Bargain EVER July 10 2012
By Bruce Eder - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've only just started going through this voluminous set, which I received from Amazon on July 5 (I had pre-ordered it, and it was shipped on the 3rd, which was the official release date until that date actually arrived, and then was moved to the 10th). So far, everything appears to be in order -- the 1949 Eroica opens the whole collection on Disc 1, exactly as it should, and it sounds absolutely glorious (I haven't looked to see if the makers finally gave it the 20-bit remastering treatment promised and not delivered circa 1999). And one thing they definitely did repair was the NBC Symphony recording of the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 which, in the 1992 CD series, had audible gouges in the source that made listening a rather painful experience. The Japanese reissue of that performance had no untoward surface noise, but there hasn't been time to compare that with what's here -- but they have remastered this recording from a proper source, if possibly not the same source as the Japanese reissue. The Fidelio even gives us some spatial relationships and room ambience between the singers, not bad for a pre-tape-era recording.

As to the overall virtues of the set, for anyone who needs convincing -- and this comes from someone who grew up highly doubtful about the worth of Toscanini's recordings -- some of those performances, such as his 1936 Beethoven Seventh with the Philharmonic, the 1949 Eroica, the Grofe Grand Canyon Suite (no, I'm not joking -- he gets the NBC Symphony to play it like real music, and lo, and behold, IT IS!!!), the Rossini overtures, the Boheme, and all of the Verdi, plus a lot of the Beethoven -- have seldom been equaled. And it's ALL worth owning. The producers, beyond the structural flaws delineated by other reviewers, seem to have gotten this one right -- maybe the 1992 CD art hardly constitutes "original jackets," but they had to use something, and if it helped make this project more viable in some way, bravo! And it is a bargain, at anything less than $200 (for those with short memories, back in 1992, the original collection -- which had a lot of sonic deficiencies that have been fixed here -- went for over $1000, and took up a lot more space, although the earlier editions, from 1992 and 1999, also contained extensive essays in each individual volume authored by classical music critic/scholars Harris Goldsmith and Mortimer H. Frank, which are not present in this collection).

One should also point out that, despite the thorough nature of this collection, it will still be necessary even for the non-completist to move beyond this box. There were any number of broadcast performances that, for whatever reason, Toscanini never authorized for commercial release in his lifetime. His estate has granted Testament Records access to several volumes of these, and beyond the legitimate, licensed material, there are some issues by Guild, Music & Art, and other labels that fill out a few major gaps in Toscanini's library (perhaps most notably the Brahms Requiem).
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1ca9e58) out of 5 stars The Maestro is back.....BIG TIME!! July 27 2012
By Frank "the man" - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let me say up front.....with no offense to other great conductors....I am a huge fan of Arturo Toscanini and this set shows why he was the greatest conductor of the 20th century! Like the previous reviewers, I received the US version in mid July, at a fantastic price.....I also bought the 1990-1992 Limited Edtion when it came out and paid close to $1200. And I have most of the RCA recordings on LP as well. This is truly a bargain and classical recording event...very much like the SONY release of the Original Jackets Glenn Gould edition in 2007. As soon as I got the packing material off, I went to 2 discs that would tell instantly if any remastering had been done...the first and, in my opinion, the best sonic recording ever made of the NBC Symphony in a Toscanini performance is the 1953 Respighi "Pines of Rome". I have this version on CD from 1991 and on 2 LP from RCA's 1967 series (to mark Toscanini's 100th birthday anniversary)...and a later Japanese RCA half speed mastered LP. Recorded in Carnegie Hall with the NBC at the top of their form, RCA gave this performance the 5 star audio treatment....Although not stereo, it was in fairly advanced Hi-Fi and beautifully recorded. Well, the LPs were outstanding with sonorous bass, crystal clear winds and a spaciousness that is remarkable for the time.....In the first CD release of 1990-92 Edition, I was, frankly, disappointed. The sound was harsh and a lot of the beautiful bass muffled. What had happened...and this is true for many of the 1990-92 RCA went overboard in removing much of the "after recording doctoring" by the sound engineers to give us as close to the original sound as possible. Not a good idea.....and Pines of Rome was recorded in sonically beautiful Carnegie Hall and if fared poorly. Many of Toscanini's recordings were made In NBC's notorious Studio 8H well known for its dry, flat and harsh acoustic - lacking reverberation and bloom. However, Toscanini himself was mostly to blame for the harshness of these recordings. Since a single microphone was used, he preferred (insisted) it be located directly over his head where it gave.....according to him...the clearest reproduction of the orchestral sound. Unfortunately, it was a terrible location for sonic beauty...Then he fussed over every recording, rejecting for the slightest mistake, but for being such a perfectionist - ignoring the quality of the sound.....Toscanini was very intolerant of the limits of recording, even in the 1950s. Had he recorded even 10 years later in the stereo era, I think the beauty of sound would have figured heavily in his judgement. But Toscanini only made 2 experimental stereophonic, full range high fidelity recordings before he retired and both were rejected on performance grounds.

Be that as it may, the 2012 version of Pines of Rome is outstanding in sonic quality. Not only are the woodwinds, flutes and brass beautifully clear, the bass is full and resonant .....a true pleasure to listen to. I also sampled the 1949 Eroica and it, too, is greatly improved. I haven't gone too far in this set yet but it promises to be a real joy to listen to.

There are 3 other sets (all available from Amazon) that, in my opinion, complement this RCA edition. Remember the RCA releases were the Toscanini approved releases. The first set listeners will want to pick up to supplement the RCA edition is the Music and Arts Beethoven Cycle from 1939. Toscanini Conducts Beethoven: Complete Symphonies & Selected Overtures (From the Legendary October-December 1939 Cycle) Voted about 10 years ago by Gramophone Magazine as the best Beethoven cycle on disc, this series of 5 concerts came into being after Toscanini, a virulent anti-fascist and in exile from Italy, was heart broken to hear of the invasion of Poland. He immediately programmed all the Beethoven symphonies to be played between October and December, 1939 as a protest to Hitler and Mussolini's tyranny and an affirmation in the civilized German people. Powerfully played and conducted with obvious emotional purpose and beautifully restored by Music and Arts, they are landmark performances. They were also re-issued from a different set of masters by NAXOS a few years ago as 5 separate concerts complete with introductions and commentary, however, they are not available in the US because of copyright restrictions.

The other 2 sets are of Brahms symphonies. Music and Arts released the Brahms cycle performed by the NBC Symphony and broadcast from 1942-43, considered Toscanini's best performances, but never approved by him for commercial release. This set may be hard to find Arturo Toscanini Conducts Brahms - The Four Symphonies (1942/43). And the legendary 1952 cycle with the Philharmonia Orchestra from the Royal Festival HallBrahms: The Four Symphonies / Toscanini, Philharmonia Orchestra The 1952 cycle was not an RCA venture and therefore not included. Both of these sets, for different reasons, show Toscanini's mastery of Brahms 4 symphonies in a different light than the RCA versions included in the 2012 Edition.

In the 2012 Edition, there are some phenomonal performances that have never been equalled, never mind surpassed any conductor or orchestra. The NBC Symphony was the greatest orchestra in the world during its 17 year lifespan...from 1937-1954. European orchestras were devasted firstly by Hitler's fanatical removal of Jewish musicians and then by the war itself and the painful rebuilding afterward. Many of these musicians wound up in America and played in the NBC Symphony. Created by David Sarnoff specifically for Toscanini, worked and built up by Artur Rodzinski, no other orchestra on either side of the Atlantic, except perhaps Stokowski's Philadelphia Orchestra could match the NBC for verve, clarity, attack, and sheer excitement and polish of sound. One NY critic called it "a sonic thoroughbred" and that it was.

At the top of the list of desert island performances in this set are:
1936 Beethoven Seventh - with the NY Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra.....universally acclaimed as the best recording of the 7th ever!
1949 Beethoven Eroica Symphony
Verdi's Otello with Ramon Vinay....only equalled by the great Mario del Monaco and the Vienna Philharmonic cond. by Karajan in 1959.
Verdi's Falstaff - called by James Levine "the greatest Verdi recording every made"
Verdi's La Traviata - not the strongest of casts, but stellar performance
Puccini's La Boheme - he conducted the premiere in 1896 and this is a 50th anniversary concert perfomance. Again, some cast weaknesses, but a consumnate performance by Toscanini and the NBC.
Respighi - The Pines of Rome & others
Debussy - La Mer
1949-1952 Beethoven Symphony cycle - esp. the Fifth and the Ninth
Wagner's Ring cycle music.....esp. Siegfried's Funeral March
Rossini Overtures
Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony - "the Italian" and the incidental music to a Midsummer's Night Dream
Berlioz - Queen Mab Scherzo from Romeo and Juliet
Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with Canadian soprano Lois Marshall
The Philadelphia Recordings 1941-42 - series of stellar recordings made with the Philadelphia Orchestra over a few weeks right after Pearl Harbor. Quite the story behind these superb recordings ( see B.H. Haggin and Mortimer Frank's books below)

Just listen to these above when you open the just doesn't get any better. May I also recommend, as other reviewers have, a few excellent books to fill out Toscanini, his times and his performances:
Toscanini - the NBC Years by Mortimer FrankArturo Toscanini: The NBC Years (Amadeus)
Arturo Toscanini - Contemporary Reflections of the Maestro by B.H. Haggin.....This is actually 2 books "Conversations with Toscanini" and "Toscanini the Musicians Knew" by the great music critic of New York who attended many Toscanini performances and interviewed many musicians from the NBC and NY Philharmonic orchestras (may be out of print).....
Toscanini - A Biography by Harvey Sachs. An outstanding biography.Toscanini

For those who are not familiar with Toscanini and want a quick introduction, watch the included DVD "Arturo Toscanini - The Maestro"...
You will be hooked !!
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa286015c) out of 5 stars The most complete collection, in the best available sound July 11 2012
By M. DuBroy - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have over the years bought almost every version of these recordings that RCA has issued, including some 78s when some of these performances were hard to find. Even though I purchased the set from the early '90s and many of the remasterings since, it is great to have these outstanding performances in the best officially available sound, all together, especially at Amazon's huge bargain of a price. Toscanini, even when he is wrong (Mozart, for example), is always interesting, and when he is right (Dvorak, Verdi, Beethoven, and others), he is outstanding. By modern standards, some of the sound is rough, but what can one expect when the most recent of the recordings is almost sixty years old and the earliest is pushing ninety? The only thing missing from the collection of the '90s is the detailed notes that came with each disk; other than that, the packaging is far more convenient than the old set. The first classical music I ever listened to, back when I was a teenager in the '60s, was Toscanini's Beethoven on LM-6901. The sound is unquestionably far better now than it was on those old disks. It is a pleasure to find these old friends as stimulating and inspiring as ever. There's a lot to learn from listening to them.

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