Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra The Television Concerts Vol 5 - 1948-52|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Fitting end to a glorious series of televised live concerts.
dooby | 06/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the fifth and final volume in the series of Toscanini/NBC Symphony Orchestra live concerts. The two concerts here date from 15 & 22 March 1952 and were the last two Toscanini/NBCSO concerts to be telecast live across the nation. They were held at Carnegie Hall, New York. The first of the concerts is a potpurri of minor pieces, many of which are seldom identified with Toscanini. Included are Cesar Franck's Symphonic Interlude from the Redemption oratorio and Debussy's Trois Nocturnes (only the first 2 nocturnes - Toscanini never performed the third). His reading of Sibelius' En Saga is quite unique, taken briskly, eschewing much of the dark, broodiness usually associated with the work, but bracingly exciting and bound to make audiences sit up. The concert ends with a rousing performance of that all time crowd pleaser, Rossini's William Tell Overture which Toscanini takes at such breathtaking tempo that it's hard to believe that he is already 84 years old and just recently recovered from a stroke.
Pride of place in this last volume must go to the second concert and the last in the series, which fittingly included the work which many will forever associate with Toscanini - Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It may not come up to the standards of his earlier interpretations of the Fifth, notably those from the pre-war years, but it stands heads and shoulders above most others. Being the only extant visual record of Toscanini conducting the Fifth, this is self-recommending and indispensable in any good music collection. The final concert ends with Toscanini paying tribute to his roots. Respighi's Pines of Rome may be considered very light fare and the weakest of his Roman trilogy, but Toscanini takes it as seriously as any Beethoven symphony. When the majestic final strains of the Via Appia emerge (Pines of the Appian Way), we can clearly picture the Roman Legions marching triumphantly home to Rome. A fitting climax to a resplendent series of concerts.
The video quality is by today's standards, poor. No getting away from that. But you must take into account that these were live televison broadcasts at a very early stage in television history. They were recorded on Kinescope. Add to that, the unfamiliarity of the NBC technical crew with the new Carnegie Hall venue, and you get more than the usual over-contrasty images and flares. The picture is occasionaly blurry, dirt speckled, and exhibits occasional video artifacts like rolling scan lines. Testament has done what it could to clean up the image and make it presentable to modern audiences. However it has not gone to the extent of digitally removing the last bits of debris on the print which we would expect from a specialist company like Criterion. That said, it has probably never looked this good before. Not on videotape, and probably not even on the original broadcast. The sound restoration is where this release truly shines. The sound has been restored, cleaned up, and transferred in its original uncompressed PCM glory. Still monoaural, but with great dynamic range and surprisingly wide frequency response. In the softer passages it is sumptuous and could be mistaken for a more recent recording, although in tuttis, it still tends to sound congested. But you can't sincerely expect more from a live TV broadcast from the early 50s. It sounds infinitely better than anyone at that time or since has heard. An issue to be treasured."
Incredible Film of the Maestro
Michael J. Seeley | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Toscanini is, In my humble opinion, the greatest conductor of modern times. This DVD shows the last two televised concerts he gave. The shows are shown almost unedited and in real time. The only change from the original live broadcasts is that the original credits and introductions have been edited out and replaced.
I bought this DVD because it finishes with him conducting "The Pines of Rome." This is my favorite piece of classical music, which is strange since it's considered by most to be a minor composition. Toscanini evididently had a warm spot in his heart for it as well, pehaps in part because it was composed by a personal friend, who, by the time of this concert, had been dead for almost 20 years.
Watching the end of the Pines of Rome, which finishes the DVD and indeed is the last visual record of him conducting, I was struck by the power of every part of what I was seeing and hearing. It was as if everyone involved, Toscanini, the musicians, the audio engineers, the cameramen, the audience in Carnagie Hall, everyone knew the moment was special and did the best they could to make it more so. I urge anyone who loves music to watch at least the last five minutes of this video.
The reason I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 has to do with the video transfer. While the sound has been lovingly transferred from a tape of the radio broadcast and is pristine, the picture comes from a transfer of the original 16mm kinescope to video made in the mid 80's, using 80's technology (obviously) for the original VHS release. Beyond the flaws on the original film, the picture has a "muddyness" and 80's VHS look to it which I think comes from using such an old tape. For such a high priced DVD, I feel we would have been better served with a new transfer from the original film using the latest digital equipment. Aside from this minor flaw, I'd like to say again how wonderful this piece of music history is. Toscanini is still truly the Maestro...
Volume Five Program
Mark Hite | Columbus, OH | 03/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Telecast: 15 March, 1952 at Carnegie Hall, New York City
Introduction to the concert
Rédemption Symphonic Interlude
En Saga, Op.9
Trois Nocturnes Nuages · Fêtes
William Tell Overture
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Telecast: 22 March, 1952 at Carnegie Hall, New York City
Introduction to the concert
Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67
The Pines of Rome
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Thrilling; Brings back memories
Marmez1@aol.com | Los Angeles, CA USA | 06/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was 9 years old when I heard and saw these broadcasts live on our old Dumont television set. How thrilling to see these again.
First, as other reviewers note, the picture is from the old kinescope technology, therefore archaic. But Testament has done a marvelous job with the sound. Definitely play this back through your stereo system and not just your television set.
As to the performances, I will focus on just the three I have vivid memories of from childhood. The William Tell Overture is performed with a pulse and an excitement that doesn't fail. Many orchestras make the transition from the slow section to the "Lone Ranger" theme awkwardly. Not this time. Toscanini, in this performance and in all the performances on this DVD, maintains superb control of the orchestra, keeping them coordinated and blended throughout.
This is even more evident in the performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. There are many other great and even thrilling performances on DVD. Claudio Abbado has a wonderful one on EuroArts #20-5115-9. Zubin Mehta conducts a historic performance with the combined musicians of the Israel Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic in Tel Aviv live in 1990 -- ArtHaus #100-069. There is another one with George Szell guest conducting the Chicago Symphony in a live TV concert from 1961 -- VAI #4222.
Then there are historic recordings by Mengleberg and by Furtwangler, each of whom emphasizes rhythmic flexibility (in Mengleberg's case, so much as to be nearly crazy). Toscanini tended toward rhythmic consistency. But that does not make his performance stiff or boring. On the contrary, his flexibility comes with the dynamics, the phrasing, even the bowing.
Pay attention to the way the strings bow, especially the cellos. As a cellist himself, Toscanini seems to have an amazing sense of phrasing that, combined with his rhythmic precision, creates a pulse and an energy that underlies the seeming metronomic quality of the tempo. I found this performance to be as exciting as any I have heard, including Kleiber.
As to The Pines of Rome, I was first introduced to this piece on an old vinyl LP with Toscanini. Again this performance is amazing. The dynamic range, the phrasing, all resting on the "ground base" quality of the cellos and the basses, makes this an astounding experience.
Another joy in this DVD is watching Toscanini's technique. He is not flamboyant like many of the conductorrs of the latter part of the 20th century. His stick moves with total precision, his left hand giving subtle signals, his eyes transfixing the players.
Who was the most important conductor of the last hundred and ten years? There were many great ones, from Mahler to Bruno Walter, from Klemperer to Bernstein, from Reiner and Szell to Abbado and Kleiber, father and son, not to leave out Solti or Giuilini. And then there were those tainted by their association with the Nazi's, like Karajan, Boehm, Krauss, Knappertsbusch, and sadly, Furtwangler. But who was the most important?
I would argue that it comes down to three: Furtwangler, Beecham, and Toscanini. For me, "The Maestro" was the most important conductor of my lifetime (born December 1942) and, surveying recordings throughout the entire span of his career, the best.
I am grateful to Testament for their restoration of this historic and yet also contemporary DVD. Very highly recommended."