Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Toscanini The Maestro / Verdi - Hymn of the Nations|
Actors: Arturo Toscanini, Jan Peerce, Giuseppe Verdi, Robert Merrill, Licia Albanese
Director: Peter Rosen
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Arthur R. Krieck | New York, NY USA | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD/CD combination contains a transfer of the 1987 documentary film for television, "Toscanini: The Maestro", a performance of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" from a 1943 film made for the Office of War Information, and a CD compliation/sampler of some of Toscanini's commercial sudio recordings of his core repertoire.
The transfers of both the documentary film and the film of the Verdi cantata, a real potboiler but very effective, are quite good. This is listed as a "complete" performance of the cantata, taken from the film, but it is not. For some reason it omits the singing of the "Internationale", which Toscanini added to the end of the cantata, along with the "Star Spangled Banner", so all of the Allies could be represented. I saw a screening of this film, with its wartime narration, at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City in, I believe, the late 1960s (quite a revelation for a young musician who had never seen Toscanini conduct before!) and the "Internationale" was indeed included in that presentation. So the cuts cannot have originated from 1950s Cold War government censorship. It would be interesting to find out the reasons for the cut in the present DVD edition.
The documentary also contains many excerpts from various NBC Symphony telecasts. These excerpts, prepared for the documentary film, were made previous to those released during the 1990s in the Toscanini Collection, on VHS and laserdisc and are taken from inferior and unenhanced sources to those used for the later releases. As a result the video and audio quality in these excerpts is quite poor, though they are still wonderful to watch, as are the home movies and photographs taken from the family archives and other sources.
The audio CD of excerpts is of material familiar to anyone who knows the Toscanini RCA Victor discography. The transfers are wonderfully done, quite up to the superb standard on the recent RCA/BMG CD compilations. The sound is full and detailed, with a nice sense of air and space around the sound, without adding any false directionality or "stereo" image. This disc also includes a transfer of the 1945 78rpm recording of Rossini's "Barber of Seville" overture, using the latest restoration techniques. As a result the recording sounds spacious and rich, detailed and luminous, in a way it has never sounded before in previous issues.
It is imperative that in spite of commercial considerations, BMG/RCA must use the same techniques, using original source materials, on all of the pre-tape (and video) Toscanini material in its archives, and prepare them for release."
Outstanding, in spite of missing footage
pm444 | Okemos, MI USA | 04/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD offers a wonderful documentary of Toscanini's life and shows why he was the most influential conductor of the 20th century. As noted by the previous reviewer, the video quality is not what it could be if it were remastered using techniques that were not available in 1985, which was when the documentary was made. Furthermore, as the same reviewer noted, the "Internationale" is indeed missing from the supposedly "complete" recording of the "Inno delle Nazioni" which was made in 1943 for the US Office of War Information. The documentary itself contains the same recording of the "Inno" that is included as a separate track on the DVD and both have the same cut. The "Internationale" and the "Star Spangled Banner" were added by Toscanini to Verdi's original composition in order to include all of the Allies. The cut in this recording comes at the end of Verdi's score and is noticeable. The performance is still very powerful; Toscanini can be seen singing along with the various national anthems, but when the Italian anthem begins, his whole demeanor becomes even more fervent and animated. This performance of unadulterated patriotism reminds me of the scene in "Casablanca" where all the non-Germans in Rick's Cafe join in the singing of the "Marseillaise".But none of this answers the question of the missing "Internationale". That it was a part of the original recording is proven by the fact that the "Inno" is performed without any cuts in the audio CD (volume 63) of BMG's 1990 "Arturo Toscanini Collection". The liner notes included in that recording make a point of mentioning that Toscanini added both the "Internationale" and the "Star Spangled Banner" to Verdi's composition, a point that is also made in the video documentary on the DVD.So, why was it cut? One can only speculate. It is doubtful that the cut was made or approved by Toscanini. My guess is that film was cut by some government agency during the 1950's. The Cold War mentality would have objected to the inclusion of a Socialist anthem that was the national anthem of the USSR until 1944 (when it was replaced by Stalin with "The Hymn of the Soviet Union"). Since the film was made for the OWI, a government agency, this may have given the government legal rights to alter it. That would also explain why the audio recording was not cut, since RCA presumably retained full rights to it, along with the other audio recordings Toscanini made for the company. However, this is just speculation, and I would like to know the real reason. It's unfortunate that BMG didn't take the opportunity to include the background story on this admittedly trivial mystery as part of the DVD package."
Finding a complete "Hymn of the Nations"
Classical Curiosities | Canton, OH, USA | 06/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Past reviewers were right on the ball to complain that this release of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" is truncated, with the elimination of the Russian "Internationale." Actually, I find this a rather passionate little tune, but that is another matter . . . Remember how it was used in the film "REDS"?
Anyway, if you want a complete DVD version of the "Hymn," it is available on a 2-DVD set called "Battles of Reverence," released by Triton Media. Unfortunately, I think it is now out of print, but you can find it through Amazon. This set features two WW II vintage movies on Disc 1, and some odd items on disc 2, with a complete "Hymn of the Nations." The quality isn't great, but seeing it again for the first time in years brought tears to my eyes.
On another note, the original version of "Hymn of the Nations" is available on at least two CDs I know of, the better of the two being Luciano Pavarotti (that's right!)on a CD called "Pavarotti Plus!" Quite a different ending. The other CD is, I think, a Canadian release. Volume 63 of the complete Toscanini on RCA (also out of print) has the complete Toscanini version--audio, but no video."