New York Philharmonic
5th Anniversary Edition
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Audio CD, Box set, April 7, 2017
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65 CDs of famous New York Philharmonic performances conducted by many of its most renowned music directors, from the very first recording in 1917 up to 1995
Symphonic and orchestral masterpieces, selected concerto and vocal performances
20 recordings for the first time on CD, 15 recordings as first authorized releases, remastered from the original discs and tapes using 24 bit / 192 kHz technology
An all-embracing survey of the orchestra s recorded achievements, spanning over 75 years of recording history
Booklet with introduction by Barbara Haws, Archivist and Historian of the New York Philharmonic, photos and facsimiles from the Leon Levy Digital Archives, plus full discographical notes
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-- Pearl issued a three CD box: New York Philharmonic: A Sesquicentennial Tribute (Recordings of 1917-1939), expertly remastered by Ward Marston and Mark Obert-Thorn.
This is still the only CD release of two incredibly rare 1917 Joseph Stransky 78s, including the orchestra's only Gilbert & Sullivan (Overture to The Mikado),
plus Fritz Reiner's 1938 Debussy & Wagner recordings.
-- The Smithsonian Institution issued a single disc: New York Philharmonic 1940-1954: Great American Orchestras
This is the only CD release of Artur Rodzinski's recording of Bizet's Symphony in C.
Those CDs were limited to commercial 78s and LP records.
But in 1997 something unexpected happened:
The New York Philharmonic issued a glorious ten disc box of recordings from their archive: Historic Broadcasts 1923-1987
It was a commercial success, and the orchestra followed it up with additional boxes:
"The Mahler Broadcasts" (1998), "An American Celebration" (1999), and "Bernstein Live" (2000)
The new 175th Anniversary box is a co-production of the New York Philharmonic and Sony:
65 CDs + 160 page hardcover booklet
with an eleven page history of the orchestra, photos, and an index to the contents.
I was anticipating a lot of new material, but was disappointed.
No radio broadcasts.
Everything is from the back-catalogs of RCA or Columbia.
180 individual recordings, but only 20 are new to CD (eleven percent)
(75 mono, 105 stereo)
Cardboard jackets, but not "orginal jackets".
Same bland design on the front and back: Contents are identified, but track listings can only be found in the booklet.
No texts or translations (or even plot summaries) for the vocal works.
Confusing claims, but apparently everything has been remastered.
Where I was able to make an A-B comparison, I heard no dramatic improvement
(however my ears are 67 years old and not what they once were)
One exception: The 1968 Bernstein recording of the Symphonie fantastique is a dramatic improvement over the last CD reissue.*
WASTE OF SPACE:
Leonard Bernstein, the Philharmonic's best known Music Director, is featured on 25 of the 65 CDs.
The composers he conducts are the "usual suspects" - Bernstein, Copland, Ives, Mahler, Nielsen, Stravinsky, and a lot of light classics.
Nothing wrong with the performances, but Bernstein's complete Columbia Records discography is already available from Sony
- It would be unthinkable to leave Bernstein out of this box, but two or three CDs would have been enough to honor his memory.
I could say the same about Pierre Boulez (six CDs), whose complete Columbia recordings were recently issued in a box from Sony.
Two of the Philharmonic's greatest Music Directors are woefully under-represented on CD.
I wish Sony would issue boxes devoted to the "Complete Columbia and RCA Recordings" of Artur Rodzinski and Dimitri Mitropoulos.
Rodzinski is an especially interesting case: In the space of six years (1943-1948), he went from
the Cleveland Orchestra,
to the New York Philharmonic,
to the Chicago Symphony,
He had a problem with authority.
Sony owns Rodzinski's recorded legacy in all three cities (recorded 1939-1948).
That would be a really interesting box.
(Rodzinski actually went to Europe, where he made some records for Westminster, and conducted opera in Italy.)
1911-1923 JOSEPH STRANSKY (half-a-CD) mono
- Dvorak: Largo from Symphony No.9 "New World" (1917 acoustic) NEW TO CD
- Thomas: Raymond Overture (1917 acoustic) NEW TO CD
The booklet points out that the orchestral parts for the 1917 Dvorak recording were used at the 1893 premiere (with Dvorak's markings).
Five musicians present actually took part in the premiere.
But I wonder what Dvorak would make of the fact that it was abridged to 4 minutes, 34 seconds (versus 14:43 in Bernstein's 1962 recording).
The two 78s in this set officially double the availability of Stransky on CD.
1922-30 WILLEM MENGELBERG (one-and-a-half CDs) mono
- Beethoven: Symphony No.3 "Eroica" (1930)
- Beethoven: Symphony No.5 - Allegro con brio (1922 acoustic)
- Saint-Saens: Omphale's Spinning Wheel (1929)
- Schelling: A Victory Ball, Fantasy for Orchestra (1925 - also in the Pearl box)
- R.Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (1928) (amazingly realistic sound)
- Wagner: Flying Dutchman Overture (1925 - the booklet is wrong)
Schelling's "Victory Ball" is a an anti-war polemic, a mix of Viennese waltzes, military marches and the Dies Irae, ending with taps (the bugle call, not the dance).
Mengelberg's New York recordings are already on Pearl, Biddulph & Naxos, though no single label has gathered them all together (Sony missed an opportunity.)
1928-1936 ARTURO TOSCANINI (three CDs) mono
- Beethoven: Symphony No.5 (9 April, 1933 live - not issued on 78s)
- Beethoven: Symphony No.7 (1936)
- Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn (1936)
- Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1929)
- Gluck: Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice (1929)
- Haydn: Symphony No. 101 "Clock" (1929)
- Mendelssohn: Scherzo & Nocturne from A Midsummer Night's Dream (1926)
- Mozart: Symphony No. 35 "Haffner" (1929)
- Rossini: The Barber of Seville Overture (1929)
- Rossini: L' Italiana in Algeri Overture (1936)
- Rossini: Semiramide Overture (1936)
- Verdi: Prelude to Acts I & III of La traviata (1929)
- Wagner: Siegfried Idyll (1936)
- Wagner: Dawn & Siegfried's Rhine Journey from Gotterdammerung (1936)
- Wagner: Prelude to Acts I & III of Lohengrin (1936)
This is Toscanini's complete published RCA discography, but Naxos did a more thorough job on five CDs, including alternate takes of many of these works, plus a second unreleased performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
1936-1943 JOHN BARBIROLLI (two-and-a-half CDs) mono
- Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture (1940)
- Brahms: Symphony No.2 (1940)
- Ravel: La Valse (1940)
- Schubert: Symphony No.4 "Tragic" (1939)
- Sibelius: Symphony No.1 (1942)
- Sibelius: Symphony No.2 (1940)
Barbirolli's New York recordings are already on Dutton.
1943-1947 ARTUR RODZINSKI (four-and-a-half CDs) mono
- Gould: Spirituals for Orchestra (1946) NEW TO CD
- Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 (1946) NEW TO CD
- Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 (1945)
- Sibelius: Symphony No.4 (1946) NEW TO CD
- Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 "Pathetique" (1944) NEW TO CD
- Tchaikovsky: Suite No.4 "Mozartiana" (1945) NEW TO CD
- Wagner: Act III of Die Walkure with Helen Traubel (1945) NEW TO CD
GOOD NEWS: ALL BUT ONE ARE NEW TO CD (I'm not counting the poorly transferred and out-of-print Dante LYS CDs.)
1947-1949 BRUNO WALTER (five CDs) mono
Bruno Walter's title was "Music Advisor" (he stepped in after Rodzinski's unexpected departure).
- Beethoven: Symphony No.3 "Eroica" (1941)
- Beethoven: Symphony No.5 (1941)
- Dvorak: Symphony No.8 (1947) NEW TO CD
- Mahler: Symphony No.4 with Desi Halban soprano (1945)
- Mahler: Symphony No.5 (1947)
- Mozart: Symphony No.39 (1956)
- Mozart: Symphony No.40 (1953)
- Mozart: Symphony No.41 "Jupiter" (1956)
- Smetana: The Moldau from Ma Vlast (1941)
Walter's New York recordings are on Sony and Music & Arts.
1949-1950 LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI (one CD) mono
Stokowski's title was "Co-Principal Conductor".
- Messiaen: L'Ascension (1949)
- Vaughan Williams: Symphony No.6 (1949, with original third movement)
- Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Greensleeves (1949)
- Wagner: Dawn, Siegfried's Rhine Journey & Funeral Music from Gotterdammerung
Stokowski's New York recordings are on Cala
1949-1958 DIMITRI MITROPOULOS (seven CDs) mono unless otherwise indicated
- Berg: Wozzeck with Mack Harrell and Eileen Farrell (1951 live)
- Borodin: Symphony No.2 (1953) NEW TO CD
- Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia (1953) NEW TO CD
- Gould: Philharmonic Waltzes (1950) NEW TO CD
- Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches (1953) NEW TO CD
- Krenek: Symphonic Elegy for String Orchestra (1951)
- Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain (1957 stereo)
- Prokofiev: Selections from Romeo and Juliet (1957 stereo)
- Rabaud: La Procession nocturne (1950) NEW TO CD
- Saint-Saens: Omphale's Spinning Wheel (1950) NEW TO CD
- Saint-Saens: La Jeunesse d'Hercule (1956) NEW TO CD
- Saint-Saens: Phaeton (1956)
- Schoenberg: Erwartung with Dorothy Dow (1951)
- Schoenberg: Verklarte Nacht (1958 stereo)
- Scriabin: Poem of Ecstasy (1953) NEW TO CD
- Scriabin: Prometheus, Poem of Fire with Leonid Hambro piano (1953) NEW TO CD
- Shostakovich: Symphony No.10 (1954)
- Skalkottas: Four Greek Dances (1956) NEW TO CD
- Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Suite No.1 (1954) NEW TO CD
- Tchaikovsky: Marche slave (1957 stereo)
- Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1958 stereo)
GOOD NEWS: 11 OF THE 21 SELECTIONS ARE NEW TO CD. Everything else is already on Sony
1958-1969 LEONARD BERNSTEIN (25 CDs) stereo unless otherwise indicated
- Barber: Adagio for Strings (1971)
- Barber: Violin Concerto with Isaac Stern (1964)
- Beethoven: Leonore Overture No.3 (1960)
- Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique (1968) *
- Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini Overture (1960)
- Berlioz: Rákóczy March from Damnation of Faust (1967)
- Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture (1959)
- Bernstein: Symphony No.2 "Age of Anxiety" with Lukas Foss piano (1950 mono)
- Bernstein: Candide Overture (1960)
- Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (1961)
- Bernstein: Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront (1960)
- Brahms: Academic Festival Overture (1963)
- Brahms: Tragic Overture (1964)
- Britten: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra narrated by Henry Chapin (1961)
- Copland: Symphony No.3 (1966)
- Copland: Connotations for Orchestra (1962)
- Copland: Billy the Kid Suite (1959)
- Copland: Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo (1960)
- Debussy: Images (1958)
- Debussy: Jeux (1960)
- Debussy: La Mer (1961)
- Debussy: Nocturnes - Nuages & Fetes (1960)
- Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (1960)
- Debussy: Rhapsody for Clarinet with Stanley Drucker (1961)
- Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1965)
- Dvořák: Symphony No.9 "From the New World" (1962)
- Dvořák: Carnival Overture (1965)
- Dvořák: Slavonic Dances No.1 & 3 (1963)
- Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 (1967)
- Gershwin: An American in Paris (1958)
- Goldmark: Rustic Wedding Symphony (1968)
- Grieg: Peer Gynt Suites No.1 & 2 (1967)
- Grieg: Norwegian Dance, Op.35, No.2 (1965)
- Grieg: March of the Trolls from Lyric Suite (1970)
- Harris: Symphony No.3 (1960)
- Haydn: Symphony No.82, The Bear (1962)
- Haydn: Symphony No.83, The Hen (1962)
- Holst: The Planets (1971)
- Ives: Symphony No.2 (1958)
- Mahler: Symphony No.2 "Resurrection" with Lee Venora & Jennie Tourel (1963)
- Mahler: Symphony No.3 with Martha Lipton (1961)
- Mahler: Symphony No.8, Part I (1962)
- Mahler: Kindertotenlieder with Jennie Tourel (1960)
- Nielsen: Symphony No.4 "Inextinguishable" (1970)
- Nielsen: Symphony No.5 (1962)
- Prokofiev: Peter & the Wolf narrated by the conductor (1960)
- Ravel: Mother Goose Suite (1965)
- Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte (1968)
- Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole (1958)
- Ravel: Shéhérazade with Jennie Tourel (1961)
- Rossini: The Barber of Seville Overture (1963)
- Rossini: L’Italiana in Algeri Overture (1960)
- Rossini: La gazza ladra Overture (1960)
- Rossini: La scala de seta Overture (1963)
- Rossini: Semiramide Overture
- Rossini: William Tell Overture (1963)
- Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals with Ruth & Naomi Segal pianos, narrated by the conductor (1962)
- Schuman: In Praise of Shahn (1970)
- Schuman: To Thee Old Cause (1968)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 (1959)
- Sibelius: Finlandia (1965)
- Sibelius: Swan of Tuonela (1973)
- Sibelius: Valse triste (1969)
- Smetana: Bartered Bride Overture (1963)
- Smetana: The Moldau from Má vlast (1964)
- Smith: Star-Spangled Banner (1962)
- Stravinsky: Firebird Suite (1957)
- Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite (1960)
- Stravinsky: Rite of Spring (1958)
- Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet (1957)
- Tchaikovsky: Capriccio italien (1960)
- Tchaikovsky: Marche slave (1963)
- Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture (1962)
- Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite (1960)
- Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Suite (1969)
- Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty Waltz (1971)
- Tchaikovsky: Polonaise from Eugene Onegin (1971)
- Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1976)
- Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Greensleeves (1969)
- Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music (1962)
- Four Improvisations by the Orchestra (1964, technically there shouldn't be a conductor)
* BERNSTEIN CONDUCTS BERLIOZ SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE
There were two NYPO recordings: 1963 and 1968.
Bernstein was unhappy with the first effort and demanded a remake after only five years.
For some reason, Sony selected the 1963 recording for three of the four previous CD releases (see Comment Three for details).
The 175th Anniversary box finally has the preferable 1968 recording in a new and dramatically improved remastering.
1971-1977 PIERRE BOULEZ (six CDs)
- Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra (1972)
- Bartók: Miraculous Mandarin (1971)
- Berg: Three Pieces from Lyric Suite (1974)
- Falla: Three-Cornered Hat (1975)
- Handel: Water Music (1974)
- Ravel: Boléro(1974)
- Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé (1975)
- Ravel: Mother Goose (1974)
- Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales (1973)
- Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (September 24, (1973)
- Varese: Amériques (1975)
1978-1991 ZUBIN MEHTA (five CDs)
- Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue with Gary Graffman (1979)
- Gershwin: Seventeen songs used in Woody Allen’s film "Manhattan" (1979, actually conducted by Thomas C. Pierson)
- Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (1979)
- Ravel: La Valse (1978)
- Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra (1980)
- Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (1981)
- Verdi: Requiem with Caballé, Berini, Domingo, Plishka (1980)
1991- 2002 KURT MASUR (half-a-CD)
- Dvořák: Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma (1995)
The Zubin Mehta years marked the end of the New York Philharmonic's exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records.
Kurt Masur and the orchestra signed a new contract with Teldec (Warner).
Masur's departure in 2002 marked the virtual end of recording for the most venerable of U.S. orchestras.
GUEST CONDUCTORS mono unless otherwise indicated
- R. Strauss: Don Quixote with Alfred Wallenstein cello (1932)
Also in the 1993 Pearl box.
- Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (1940)
- Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements (1946)
Stravinsky actually made two recordings of The Rite of Spring with the New York Philharmonic (1940 mono & 1960 stereo),
though in 1960 the orchestra recorded under the pseudonym "Columbia Symphony".
Photos taken at the recording session show most of the same musicians who took part in Bernstein's 1958 recording.
Only the 1940 recording is in the 175th Anniversary box.
- Mozart: Piano Concerto No.21 with Robert Casadesus (1948)
- Saint- Saëns: Symphony No.3 "Organ" (1947)
- Gershwin: Concerto in F with Oscar Levant (1942)
- Taylor: Through the Looking Glass (1975 stereo) FIRST RELEASE
- Berio: Sinfonia (1968 stereo)
Comments Three and Four contain Amazon links to the previously released CDs mentioned in this review
(dated April 8, 2017)
Click on "Sort by oldest".
PHOTOS: The 1993-1997 NYPO boxes.
2017 was also the 175th Anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic.
The Vienna Philharmonic box is also a disappointment, and an even bigger one than the New York box.
Wiener Philharmoniker 175th Anniversary Edition [44 CD/DVD]
1. The box is top heavy with Bernstein. The problem with that is the fact that all of the Bernstein items have been released before countless times. Most collectors will have many duplicates on their shelf.
2. They could have used this opportunity to release some of the broadcast recordings, rather than the same studio recordings we have heard already.
3. No attempt was made to replicate the original album covers. Much of the material is presented here not in the original couplings so this would have made things challenging, but still, the artwork used is very lame (same problem with the Carnegie Hall, Horowitz, and Bernstein boxes that Sony recently released)
4. Several of the discs are not generously filled. (42, 46, 50 minutes)
5. Why in god's name they decided to release the soundtrack to Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' (conducted by Thomas C. Pierson) as part of this box I'll never know.
1. The Rodzinski items are of extreme interest. In fact, a box of nothing but Rodzinski would serve collectors well. The Prokofiev fifth is a hot-blooded performance, even though Rodzinski goes into a manic episode during the Allegro Marcato movement.
2. Always nice to see Mitropoulos in the picture, even if most of those items were available before elsewhere. Again, sony needs to do a complete Mitropoulos box. Anything short of that will leave me unsatisfied.
3. There is some interesting Barbirolli stuff here. Sibelius 1 has some good qualities (and some things that didn't work). Liederkranz hall sound is not so good (or is it the mastering? Dvorak 8 with Walter doesn't sound particularly good either and that venue was Carnegie Hall. Do I hear some artificial resonance added? I don't like it)
The lack of any original sleeves and the here-to-fore mentioned dull coverings, is a disappointment.
We can survive without this, but, it is an indication of the world of finance, and thus, we must be thankful that this gives us the products of the great orchestra and enclosed in one place.
Harold Edward Wills, DMA