Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Great Leopold Stokowski

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This "encore" of no. 122 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/Pcast122

Both of my Tuesday Blog posts this month are dedicated to the late great conductor and arranger, Leopold Stokowski. In fact, this week’s selection from the Podcast Vault features three relevant aspects of Leopold – his adaptations of great works for Symphony Orchestra, his incisive conducting and his love for the Baroque.

In recent years, advocates of early instruments and “Historically Informed” performances may have gained the upper hand over those who want to hear baroque music played on today's fuller-sounding instruments. In spite of our ears being “tuned” to these tendencies, the legendary conductor eloquently makes a case for antique music on modern instruments. Old-fashioned gut strings? Forget it. Smaller ensembles? Quite the opposite.

This week’s podcast, for example, provides one of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” under Stokowski’s baton – the entire set will be featured in an upcoming post. Truly, one cannot mistake this for HIP, yet the colour of Vivaldi’s music and the inventiveness of his use of the harpsichord, at times as the continuo, and at times as a soloist itself, is something only a master interpreter would exploit.

Of course, controversy lingers over whether Stokowski actually penned some of his transcriptions. Some have attributed the ``Bach-Stokowski'' works to Lucien Cailliet, clarinetist and resident orchestrator in Philadelphia from 1920 to 1938. The exact truth may never be known; but there is no doubt that the transcriptions convey Stokowskian ideals. As a conductor, the Philadelphia Orchestra's third music director knew the coloristic potential of an orchestra; as an organist, he played Bach, and had a concept of sound consistent with the instrument's big rumble.

Stokowski's orchestrations boldly declare “drama is King”, and the bigger the emotion the better. Less evident in the Purcell pastiche I programmed, the drama, and the “Philadelphia Sound” in all its early stereophonic glory is in the front lines in Stokowski’s orchestration of Wagner’s Love Music from Tristan und Isolde.

The final piece, an electric reading of Nielsen’s “Four Temperaments” symphony (performed with the Danish Radio Symphony, no less) explodes with colour and energy.

Happy Listening!

ITYWLTMT Montage #122 - Leopold Stokowski
(Originally published on Friday, 13 September 2013)

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto for violin, strings and continuo in F Major, RV 293 
L'autunno (Autumn)
Hugh Bean, violin
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Leopold Stokowski, conducting

Leopold STOKOWSKI (1882-1977)
Purcell Suite, for orchestra (transcriptions after Purcell) (1949)
BBC Philharmonic
Matthias Baemert, conducting

Tristan und Isolde: Liebesnacht (Symphonic Synthesis after Wagner) (1932, rev. 1935)
Philadelphia Orchestra
Leopold Stokowski, conducting

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony no. 2, FS 29 (op. 16) 
De fire Temperamenter (The Four Temperaments) 
DR SymfoniOrkestret
Leopold Stokowski, conducting

·         Original Bilingual ommentary: http://itywltmt.blogspot.com/2013/09...stokowski.html
·         Detailed Playlist: https://archive.org/stream/pcast122-Playlist
·         Internet Archive Link: https://archive.org/details/Pcast122

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