WAGNER: Die Walküre
Birgit Nilsson (Brünhilde). Jon Vickers (Siegmund). Gladys Kuchta (Sieglinde). Otto Edelmann (Wotan). Irene Dalis (Fricka). Ernst Wiemann (Hunding). Carlotta Ordassy (Gerhilde). Mary Mackenzie (Gringerde). Heidi Krall (Helmwige). Martina Arroyo (Orthilde). Margaret Roggero (Rossweisse). Gladys Kniese (Schwertleite). Helen Vanni (Siegrunde). Mignon Dunn ( Waltraute). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Erich Leinsdorf, cond.
PRISTINE CLASICL PACO 153 (2 jewel boxes, 3 disks) TT: 3:31:04

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90. DVORAK: Symphony No. 9 in e minor, Op 95 "From the New Word." Outlkne of Themes from Symphony No 9.
Philadelphia Orcrhestra / Leopold Stokowski, cond.

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No 9 in D minor, Op 125 "Choral"
Anne Brown, soprano. Winifred Heidt, contraldo. William Home, tenor. Lawrence Whisonant, bass. Westminster Choir. NBC Symphony Orchestra / Leopod Stokowski, cond,

The Metropolitan Opera presented the complete Ring Cycle during their 1961 - 1962 season with a magnificent cast. This Pristine set offers the broadcast of Die Walküre December 23, 1961. It takes us back to the glory days of the famed venue. Perhaps the real star here is conductor Erich Leinsdorf, who led countless performances at the Met. The orchestra could not be bettered, playing throughout with passion and perfection. And we have Birgit Nilsson in her prime, Jon Vickers the perfect Siegmund, and Otto Edelmann a commanding Wotan. American soprano Gladys Kuchta (1915 - 1998) spent most of her career in Dresden; sh is an admirable Sieglinde in every way. Even lesser known is German bass Ernst Wiemann (1919 - 1980) who spent much of his career in Germany. His powerful bass is perfect for a menacing Hunding. And among the Valkyries we find such familiar names as Martina Arroyo, Heidi Krall, Carlotta Ordassy and Mignon Dunn. Milton Cross's announcements aer included, and audio is remarkably clear and well-balanced. This is an outstanding release, and we look forward to the reminder of this Ring cycle.

We are indebted to Pristine for their focus on early recordings of Leopold Stokowski, most of which had fallen into oblivion. If you check their catalog, you'll fine dozens of recordings including early acoustics. Here now are more treasures. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 was not performed often by Stokowski. He made two recordings, he first in 1934 in Philadelphia, the second in 1967 in the London Phase Four series, with the London Symphony. Thus, this live performance from November 11, 1941 is of particular interest. Stokowski was in his first season as principal conductor of the NBC Symphony. The concert was given in New York's Cosmopolitan Opera House, which had acoustics superior to he notorious 8H Studio. Because of network programming limitations, it was possible to broadcast only he final movement; the first three we given in the concert and fortunaely recorded. It is an exciting performance, grand in scope. Excellent soloists and chorus. Andrew Rose's XR remastering provides an audio picture that belies the fact that this broadcast took place almost eight decades ago. A major addition to the Stokowski discography!

We are indebted to Pristine for their resurrecting many of the early recordings of Leopold Stokowski, most of which had fallen into oblivion. If you check their catalog, you'll fine dozens of recordings including early acoustics. Here now are more treasures.First, the conductor's September 1928 recording of Symphony No. 3 of Brahms. It is a rather erratic but exciting reading, and Mark Obert-Thorn has worked wonders dealing with the manifold technical problems of the original recording. The Dvorak symphony was a favorite of Stokowski, and on this disk we have his second recording of it made October 1927. His first dates from1925; he would make 4 other recordings later. The 1927 performance heard on this new CD is surely one of the most dynamic you'll hear. A plus is a 4-minute narration by Stokowski of themes from the symphony illustrated at the piano by Artur Rodzinski, who had just been appointed assistant conductor of the Orchestra. And again MOT has provided a very realistic audio picture. Thank you, Pristine!

R.E.B. (October 2018)