Magazine article Gramophone

Toscanini's Beethoven

Magazine article Gramophone

Toscanini's Beethoven

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

'The most lucid, dramatic and intense Beethoven cycle ever captured by recorded sound.' Annotator Christopher Dyment's claim is made in full knowledge of Arturo Toscanini's extensive Beethoven symphony discography, both official and unofficial; and whatever one's take on Beethoven interpretation, this latest digital transfer of the legendary 1939 NBC/Toscanini cycle must rank among the most significant documents of its kind ever issued.

It has a predecessor in Music & Arts' 2007 release of the same material (CD 1203 -10/07), which sounds subtly different. The latest release witnesses a lightening of the bass and some useful aural cleansing (also an improvement over the Naxos issues in this respect): sample, by way of comparisons, the start of the Eroica's Funeral March or near the opening of the Pastoral's 'Storm', where an annoying cough has been excised. The previous incarnation is best in the Second Symphony--as imposing a statement of the score as we have from anyone--where an extra degree of tonal body adds to the impact.

By and large this latest release makes for an easier, less scruffy listen than its various predecessors and with performances that pack such a powerful punch, unsullied concentration is important. …

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