Oct 09

Toscanini

By Kenneth Feucht Media, Music Add comments

Toscanini, A collection of his works ??

It is typical that the first performance of any classical work that one hears, if well performed, tends to stick in ones mind, and defines for hearings of other performances a standard to measure up to. I grew up on Toscanini, and was told repeatedly that he was one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century. I remember sitting for hours, listening to nothing but Toscanini. In the case of Toscanini, the rule introduced at the beginning has not held true, and I have found much better recordings and performances of just about everything that Toscanini has to offer. This compendium of 10 CDs of his works confirms that statement. Toscanini tends to always be very sharp, bombastic, and unfeeling in his performances. Somehow, he seems to think that if a work is flawlessly performed in double the meter of any other conductor, it is better performed. Toscanini just has no feel as to the soul of any piece of classical music. There is nothing on this CD that I have not heard better performed by other conductors. Toscanini does a reasonable job with the American composers like Gershwin and Grofe, but destroys Wagner. I will be comparing two other conductor sets in this series, one with Furtwängler and the other with Ormandy. Furtwängler is not my favorite composer but is total delight to listen to, after having one’s ears abused with Toscanini. In addition, the recordings in this set are poorly cleaned up, and much of the record noise and tinny sound remains. They could have done better, though this set was only $17 for 10 CDs so it’s hard to complain too bitterly. The  good grace of this set is that it is very inexpensive, and does give one a proper feel for Toscanini.

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