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Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra: The Television Concerts 1948-52, Vol. 1

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Feb 14, 2006)
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$45.74 $39.95

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Editorial Reviews

Wagner : Prélude acte 3 de Lohengrin, Ouv. & Bacchanale de Tannhäuser, Murmures de la Forêt, Chevauchée des Walkyries - Beethoven : Symph. n°9 / Anne McKnight, sop. - Jane Hobson, contr. - Erwin Dillon, tén. - Norman Scott, b. ... - NBC Symphony Orchestra, dir. Arturo Toscanini

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Classical, Import, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Testament UK
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CNGC3Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,500 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra: The Television Concerts 1948-52, Vol. 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lorin Chisholm on February 25, 2006
Verified Purchase
These DVDs are essentially the same as the VHS releases in the 1980s. The titles, Martin Bookspan commentary, end credits, booklet notes are all present. (And no, the originally televised David Sarnoff introduction for the first concert is still not there). I am not a fan of the cover art, or of the menus. But the menus are simple and direct, so that can be also a plus. At first, I thought this was a cheap transfer and not much was paid to clean up the picture and sound, as I experienced with the DVD Toscanini documentary released by RCA in 2004. When the concerts started, my fears were alleviated.

The picture is as improved as it might ever get, barring a future blu-ray release. I think you have to approach your expectations with the idea that these are historical documents. Since this was recorded during the early days of television, and of presenting televised concerts, you can count on the picture looking primitive, camera shots not well planned, and variable focus work. If you are looking for pristine HDTV, forget it. I am not sure if Testament got hold of the original film Kinescopes, or the Kinescope video transfer masters that RCA did for the VHS release in the 1980s, but it seems like they worked on the picture quality of whatever they had, and it shows. I was not disappointed in the slightest. Some of it was darn near perfect! There are still some dust and spots, but that will never be eliminated because of the age. And in Vol. 2 and Vol. 4, there are long sections that are slightly out of focus, probably at the time of the original Kinescope recordings. But I was overall pleased.

The sound is the next big concern.
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Telecast: 20 March, 1948 at NBC Studio 8-H, New York City

Introduction to the concert

Wagner

Lohengrin ­ Prelude to Act III

Tannhäuser ­ Overture & Bacchanale

Siegfried ­ Forest Murmurs

Götterdämmerung ­ Dawn & Siegfried's Rhine Journey

Die Walküre ­ Ride of the Valkyries

NBC Symphony Orchestra

Telecast: 3 April, 1948 at NBC Studio 8-H, New York City

Introduction to the concert

Beethoven

Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125, 'Choral'

Anne McKnight ­ soprano · Jane Hobson ­ contralto

Erwin Dillon ­ tenor · Norman Scott ­ bass

Members of the Collegiate Chorale

NBC Symphony Orchestra
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This is a near priceless reproduction of the first two live Television Concerts, the all-Wagner performance of March 20, 1948 and the performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 on April 3, exactly two weeks after the Wagner concert.

The Wagner concert is great, including the thrilling and intense Ride of the Valkyries to conclude, yet the shining star on this DVD is the Maestro's performance of Beethoven. It is intense in the first two movements, peaceful while brisk in the Adagio movement, leading up to the glorious "Ode to Joy" theme. The opening movement is very fast, only 12:55, and scorches just about all contemporary and subsequent readings of this movement. At this pace, though, Toscanini conducts the climactic passage perfectly, with nearly unsurpassed fury and intensity which would make the Maestro Beethoven proud, and the movement closes out brilliantly, as well. The second movement continues on with a similar theme, which Toscanini conveys excellently as well.

The third movement is where most conductors love to indulge in sentimentality where it was not intended, but Toscanini allows the music to flow and keeps it pressing forward beautifully. The final movement, though is where Toscanini truly shines, from the introduction of the "Ode to Joy" theme on to the end. Tempi still matter though, and the Maestro nails it, from the chorus singing in unison the first stanza on to the conclusion. The rousing Allegro energico section is one of the most memorable moments of the finale and the appropriate military-march tempo taken by Toscanini makes it this much better, and this march-style tempo is behind the concluding Prestissimo, which Toscanini gets right: a joyful march at the fastest pace a human drummer could go, which is what Beethoven envisioned. Start to finish, Toscanini's 1948 performance is one of the very best performances of Symphony No. 9 of all-time.
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... to leave many, if any, NEGATIVE opinions about the "old man"/Toscanini, by now. Sure, there were SOME tempos, in certain works, that could be HARD-pressed ... and almost obsessively-so ... but the ability to DRIVE an Orchestra to it's best lengths was almost-unparalled. This video shows the fellow, at his best.
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This rare piece of history is worth more than its buying price. Seeing Toscanini conducting, appreciate his intensity and quite involved attention to details while conducting, is a must for music lovers. Congrats.
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