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Symphony 1 2 3 & 4 / Egmont Overture Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 24 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B00000F1BP
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Disc: 1
1. Symphony No. 1 In CMaj, Op. 21: Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
2. Symphony No. 1 In CMaj, Op. 21: Andante cantabile con moto
3. Symphony No. 1 In CMaj, Op. 21: Menuetto: Allegro molto e vivace
4. Symphony No. 1 In CMaj, Op. 21: Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace
5. Symphony No. 2 In DMaj, Op. 36: Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
6. Symphony No. 2 In DMaj, Op. 36: Larghetto
7. Symphony No. 2 In DMaj, Op. 36: Scherzo - Trio
8. Symphony No. 2 In DMaj, Op. 36: Allegro molto
9. Egmont Overture, Op. 84
Disc: 2
1. Symphony No. 3 In E-Flat Maj. Op 55 'Eroica': Allegro con brio
2. Symphony No. 3 In E-Flat Maj. Op 55 'Eroica': Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
3. Symphony No. 3 In E-Flat Maj. Op 55 'Eroica': Scherzo: Allegro vivace - Trio
4. Symphony No. 3 In E-Flat Maj. Op 55 'Eroica': Finale: Allegro molto - Poco andante - Presto
5. Symphony No. 4 In B-Flat Maj, Op. 60: Adagio - Allegro Vivace
6. Symphony No. 4 In B-Flat Maj, Op. 60: Adagio
7. Menuetto: Allegro vivace
8. Symphony No. 4 In B-Flat Maj, Op. 60: Allegro ma non troppo

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Back to the bad old sonics--what happened? Dec 13 2005
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After the glorious remastering of Toscanini's Verdi Requiem and Falstaff, I assumed we were out of the woods. But these early Beethoven symphonies (#1-4) are in snarly, gnarly sound. A great deal depends on what the engineers have to work with, of course. Even so, each performance is a trial sonically, with the best being the Fourth and Second, while the Eroica comes out worst. These readings are from 1949-53, yet the Egmont Over., which sounds thin and screechy, is the latest. All were done in Carnegie Hall, not the notorious Studio 8-H, but on these discs there's not much hint of warm hall acoustics.

For those who can withstand the glaring trumpets, crunchy climaxes, and wiry violins, I'm not sure there are great performances to be heard here. Toscanini basically performs each piece the same, with strong attacks, over-emphasis on sforzandos, rushed tempos as a rule (though not always), and a tensile line. His admirers will like these features; I found them nerve-wracking. The NBC Sym. is surprisingly scrappy in the finales of Sym. 2 and 4, and much of the Eroica lacks eloquence. The slow movements show up well, however, thanks to Toscanini's feeling for how to shape a melodic line. Overall, this is the most disappointing of the "Immortal" series so far.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven's & Toscanini's Genius in Greatly Improved Sound July 13 2001
By Hank Drake - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I was skeptical when these new CDs were issued. My thoughts were that the early 1990s Complete Toscanini reissue was probably the best that could be humanly done to restore the very pinched and nasal sounding originals. Since I had already bought half of that set, I wasn't about to spend more of my hard-earned money on a marginally improved RE-reissue.
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 greater clarity, 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. But what most people are hearing as fast is, in fact, Toscanini's characteristic rhythmic vitality and, occasionally, drive, which brings the faster movements to sparkling life. Likewise, the slow movements are never dragged, and glow with Italianate warmth.
It is worth noting that, for this issue, RCA has replaced the 1949 studio recording of the "Eroica" with Toscanini's more dynamic 1953 live performance. RCA does not credit the liner notes, but they are reprints of Mortimer H. Frank's excellent notes originally written for the early 1990s CD release.
RCA has so far only released Toscanini's core repertoire with the NBC Symphony--but they are more than welcome additions to the catalogue. The Maestro's recordings with the New York Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra should also be remastered, post-haste. Then, RCA, which has given us magnificent reissues of Kapell and Rubinstein, should get to work and replace their botched Vladimir Horowitz reissue from the 1990s, using this magnificent Toscanini reissue as a template.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Commanding and Noble July 11 2005
By Sator - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I would say that these recordings of the first four symphonies represent the finest example of why Toscanini was held in such awe in America during his time. You can really understand why the whole of America stopped to listen to him and why he outdid the baseball and football in the radio ratings when he conducted on NBC radio.

I must admit I have always been a Furtw?ngler follower when it comes to Beethoven and it took me a while before I could warm at all to Toscanini's approach. In fact it comes as a surprise to me to find myself writing such a glowing review of these recordings when I was once so vehemently anti-Toscanini. I find that with Toscanini that his understanding of Beethoven's musical language is profoundest in the earlier symphonies whereas Furtw?ngler is profoundest in the later symphonies (from the fifth onwards). Above all Toscanini's approach to the symphony he conducted the most, the Eroica, is masterly. In fact I think this particular live NBC performance is the finest Eroica I have yet to hear - vastly superior to the sadly overdriven studio NBC recording that is so unflattering to this conductor's memory. The proximity to Beethoven's marked metronome markings is, I feel in this case, to be a great strength in the Eroica. Toscanini's brazen fast tempi are brought off with total conviction matched with a powerful grasp of the work's structure - an understanding that seems to slip after from about the fifth symphony onwards.

Other beautiful performances here include the first symphony. I must confess that I really do like Toscanini's approach. It seems to be chiselled out of marble and yet has a lovely, sunny Italianate lyricism. The second is almost as good but come the fourth things seem to be gradually slipping away from Toscanini as Beethoven moves on from the models left for him by Haydn and Mozart - with it Beethoven seems to leave Toscanini behind too. The approach is still - if only barely - valid for the fourth, but it sits just so slightly uncomfortably. From there onwards Toscanini's command of Beethovian rhetoric fades into what can seem like bombast with the later symphonies - although he still has his moments of brilliance. In fact Toscanini himself said of the 9th symphony that "I do not understand this music".

These are wonderful and essential recordings. They are also documents of a wonderful time in American history when people young and old still held great maestros like Toscanini in awe - in a fashion that not even rock stars can hope to emulate today. The fullness of the recorded sound will come as a surprise to many. In fact there are sadly plenty of so called 'digital stereo recordings' that sound FAR worse than this.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clean performances provide for dramatic effect July 30 2001
By Hermes Camacho - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Though his late NBC Symphony performances are not always as clean as his recordings with NYP, Philadelphia, or even his early NBC, his realization of Beethoven's symphonies are far superior than ANY Furtwangler or Karajan or any other number of German "Romantics." Toscanini's training as an opera conductor has led him to deem the melody as important, if not more important, than the harmonic structure. Who would have thought! Harmony is nothing without melody. Toscanini was always hunting for the melody, bringing it out and, most importantly, following the COMPOSER'S score in lieu of a CONDUCTOR'S score (for conductor's score readings, with the exception of Walter, Weingartner, Kleiber, and a few others, look to those of Furtwangler, Klemperer or Karajan). Toscanini was a true musician who sought for a clean performance that followed the desires of the composer and not that of "interpreters." His tempos were always (or close to) correct and any minor changes in the score by him were to help, not improve, the composers' intentions.
Yes, I do think Furtwangler, Karajan, and Klemperer were among the greatest German conductors, but Toscanini was the greatest. This attests to the many young conductors today who try to emmulate Toscanini's ideas of following the score and not their own indulgences.
Of the recordings on this set, my favorite are the Third and the Egmont. The third has such longing in the lyrical themes of the first movement and such majesty in the main theme. The second movement is tragic and monumental. You can't find these in Furtwangler or Karajan. Though the sound may be mono, the quality of the sound is great. Performance is clean, crisp, brilliant, unique and heartfelt.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Toscanini's Beethoven Jan. 1 2006
By Robert E. Nylund - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The Beethoven symphonies were a staple of Arturo Toscanini's repertoire. From 1949 to 1953, Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra recorded all nine of the symphonies and released them individually and in boxed sets of vinyl LPs. They were considered definitive performances and, for a long time, they were considered true high fidelity recordings. Admittedly, recording has greatly improved since then. Digital remastering, using a UV22 Super CD Encoding process, of these performances has greatly improved the sound, even if they still are quite up not up today's sonics. That said, the performances are still to be valued for their exciting, dramatic qualities.

Toscanini set a standard that has seldom been reached and it is known that few conductors measure of up to this precise and intense results. One of the few young conductors that Toscanini admired in the 1950's was Leonard Bernstein, who went onto make his own top-notch recordings for RCA Victor, Columbia, and Deutsche Grammophon, including performances of the Beethoven symphonies.

This two-CD set includes the first four symphonies and the overture to the play "Egmont," all recorded in New York City's historic Carnegie Hall. The first symphony, composed in 1800 in C Major, reflects Beethoven's mentor and teacher Franz Joseph Haydn. However, Beethoven always went farther than Haydn dreamed and there are numerous twists in the score that must have amazed (if not upset) the elder composer. Toscanini's superlative recording dates from December 21, 1951.

With the second symphony, composed in 1802 in D Major, shows some major steps forward by Beethoven. By now the composer had begun to move radically away from the models of Haydn and Mozart. It is a very exciting, innovative work, given a very fine performance by Toscanini and the NBC musicians. RCA utilized recordings made on November 7, 1949, and October 5, 1951.

This set includes the November 28 and December 5, 1949, recording sessions of Beethoven's revolutionary third symphony, the "Eroica." Toscanini fully appreciated what Beethoven had done in this major work, inspired initially by Napoleon. It is trully an heroic performance. My personal preference, however, is the 1953 recording, taken from an NBC broadcast concert, if only because the sound is much better and the performance more exciting.

The fourth symphony is another step forward for Beethoven. It is filled with mystery and intrigue. Toscanini's performance is really intriguing. Years ago I followed the music in a pocket score and noticed that Toscanini was very faithful to the original intentions. This February 3, 1951, recording is a performance to treasure and it is good to hear it in the purest sound possible. It is a big step from the electronic stereo version that RCA once released, in the late 1960's.

The overture to "Egmont" was made on January 19, 1953, and it is a very exciting and triumphant performance in Toscanini's hands.

I greatly appreciate RCA Victor's efforts to give us the best possible sound from these legendary performances.