Magazine article Gramophone

'Orchestral Transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski'

Magazine article Gramophone

'Orchestral Transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski'

Article excerpt

'Orchestral Transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski'

JS Bach Jesu, joy of man's desiring. Orchestral Suite No 3, BWV1068--Air. Toccata and Fugue, BWV565. Wachet auf, BWV645 Buxtehude Sarabande and Courante Byrd Pavane and Gigue Chopin Piano Sonata No 2, Op 35--Marche funebre Clarke Trumpet Prelude Franck Panis angelicus Ippolitov-Ivanov In the Manger Mozart Piano Sonata, K331--Turkish March Mussorgsky A Night on the Bare Mountain Purcell Dido and Aeneas--Dido's Lament Shostakovich United Nations March Sousa The Stars and Stripes Forever Tchaikovsky String Quartet No 1, Op 11--Andante cantabile BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Matthias Bamert Chandos (F) CHAN10900 (80' * DDD)

Bach purists should look away now. Leopold Stokowski's 1927 orchestration of the D minor Toccata and Fugue calls for double woodwind, brass, two harps, timpani, celesta and a full-scale symphonic string section. And he makes every instrument count, in an arrangement loved by generations who heard Stokowski himself conduct it on the soundtrack of Disney's Fantasia, and which can still be relied upon to raise the blood pressure of the stuffier kind of period-instrument aficionado.

In other words, it's a knockout, and it's understandable that it should open both of these discs. According to the booklet, Jose Serebrier was apparently reluctant to include the Toccata and Fugue in his Stokowski series for Naxos, feeling that Stokey's own interpretation was definitive. We're not told Matthias Bamert's views, but he and Serebrier both make something individual from Stokowski's gothic effects. Bamert relishes pure sonority. Serebrier's performance is less extreme--though that's a relative term with Stokowski transcriptions--but has more of a sense of musical line: a performance, rather than a sequence of thrilling sounds.

Maybe that's unfair on Bamert, because from that point in these are very different compilations. …

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