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  • Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony/Romeo and Juliet (Arturo Toscanini Collection, Volume 19)
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Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony/Romeo and Juliet (Arturo Toscanini Collection, Volume 19)


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Audio CD, August 13, 1991
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$29.95 $4.90

Product Details

  • Orchestra: NBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Arturo Toscanini
  • Composer: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (August 13, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rca Records/Sbme
  • ASIN: B000003EXS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,907 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Manfred Sym, Op.58: Lento Lugubre
2. Manfred Sym, Op.58: Vivace Con Spirito
3. Manfred Sym, Op.58: Andante Con Moto
4. Manfred Sym, Op.58: Allegro Con Fuoco
5. Romeo And Juliet

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Larry Neal Poole on November 6, 2006
I bought the original LP version of this recording shortly after it's release. It was part of the series of recordings commemorating the 1950 tour of the USA by The Maestro and the NBC Symphony. The series consisted of recordings of the works performed on that tour.

As I played it for the first time, I was overwhelmed by it. I had not heard Manfred before, and was immediately attracted to it's drama, it's lyric beauty and the force of Toscanini's conception of it. I had read Byron's poem and was familiar with it's glories. Tchaikovsky's adaptation had all the thematic, harmonic and orchestral mastery that we have come to expect of this composer. In Toscanini's hands, it became what Maestro said it was, an opera without words.

Only later did I learn that Toscanini, despite his dictum, "play as written" had made a huge 6-minute cut in the last movement. Specifically, the fugue between the "Orgy of the Brigands(Scene IV)" and Manfred's death. I had not seen the score and was unaware that I wasn't hearing all of it until I read about it. In his defense, he could and did make alterations to scores, as did all of his contemporaries, when he felt it clarified aspects of orchestration or realized other elements more effectively. He did this with Debussy's La Mer, with the composer's full knowledge and assent. Even the extreme example in Manfred is utterly convincing musically with little sense of thematic or dramatic detachment. In fact, several critics believe it actually improves the structure of the work and tightens the drama. Indeed, James Levine said that he would like to record it with Toscanini's changes. To date he has not done so, but I wish he would.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 1998
Here are resplendent, honest monaural transfers of two of the favorite Tchaikovsky pieces which the Maestro often investigated during his career. Not since the issue of the original 1947 shellac set has "Romeo and Juliet" sounded as splendid and full- bodied; "Manfred" makes a better technical impression than the old "Vault Treasures" Victor long play, which was dim, muddy, and indistinct, and failed to convey the somewhat Technicolor hyperpresence of the original tapes.
Tchaikovsky purists should be notified that Toscanini's commercial recording of the symphony (as typical of his several NBC broadcasts during the forties and fifties) has a duration of less than 49 minutes, while an absolutely uncut performance might run to 60 or even 62 minutes at similar tempi. The details of the Maestro's many prunings are recounted in the valuable Harris Goldsmith annotations; yet, the changes are seamless and may not be immediately perceived, save by an expert.
While the stupefying power of the Dec. 1940 NBC broadcast (on Music & Arts CD-956) is not sustained as well in this 1949 commercial recording session, the dramatic moments are given no short shrift, though they are damaged by the "ceiling" imposed by an aggressive- sounding electronic peak limiter. However, the recording is immeasurably more brilliant than the broadcast of nine years earlier, and many listeners thus may prefer this particular RCA / BMG edition (as judged solely by sonic values, the Music & Arts CD transfer of the 1953 broadcast is sadly dim and weak, inferior to the 1940!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 24, 1998
This recording of the Manfred Symphony and the Romeo & Kuliet Fantasy-Overture has to be one of the most honest representations of these works. The Manfred has power, continuity of line and precision of attack so rarely heard in modern recordings. Nobody today can even touch the contrast and power eveoked in the last few minutes of the first movement. This is truely one of the most emotionally fulfilling readings of this very powerful work.
Though I initially bought this CD for the Romeo & Juliet, I have quickly fallen in love with Toscanini's performance of the long-negelcted Manfred. One day I hope I could recreate that electric thrill in the music that condutors now seem to have forgetten, placing interesting girations over remaining true to their musical and emotional self.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 25, 2014
This is a wonderful live performance of the neglected "Manfred" symphony but I deduct one star merely to alert potential buyers to two important facts: the sound is good, late 40's mono and thus not really capable of doing justice to the sonorities of Tchaikovsky's dense and complex instrumentation and secondly Toscanini, despite expressing his admiration for a piece he called "an opera without voices" and found to contain "not one banal note", retouched the orchestration, snipped bars here and there and quite severely abridged the last movement, removing some six or seven minutes of a fugal section which has been called dry, academic and otiose.

More recent exponents of the full score, such as Pletnev and Petrenko have made it work but one must still admire the skill and concision of Toscanini's version. He brings his customary verve, attack and precision to the music but also a voluptuous richness (insofar as the sound permits us to hear it); the NBC Symphony sounds like a crack orchestra, with especially pungent woodwinds and a sense of urgency which counteracts some potential vapidity in certain sections. The pastoral third movement, programmatically spiced up with a bit of illicit homoerotic mullarky, according to Byron's poem and biographies keen to make connections with Tchaikovsky's own proclivities, is never allowed to drag or wallow but neither does it sound brusque; the Big Tune rolls out seductively and the bucolic Alpine music is charmingly delivered. The big cut in the finale passes unnoticed unless you are familiar with the score; otherwise "Allegro con fuoco" is right up Toscanini's street and his substitution of an organ for Tchaikovsky's harmonium pays dividends in terms of excitement and audibility.
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