Other Favorite Recordings
Some of my favorite compositions and performances by performers other than Arturo Toscanini.
Bartok: Piano Concertos No. 1 &2
Pollini / Abbado – Chicago Symphony DG 415 371-2
A little more advanced piano concertos. https://188.8.131.52/brand/slot88
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
Schnabel – EMI CHS 7 63765 2
Piano playing on the edge. I imagine that no mortal could perform what was going through Beethoven’s head when he wrote these pieces. This is probably as close as we will ever get. I have not heard the Mark Obert-Thorn transcriptions on Naxos, but I would bet they are excellent.
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9
Walter – Columbia Symphony Sony SMK 64 483
Big long sweeping melodies to big climaxes.
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1/ Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3
Kapell / Mitropoulos/Stokowski – Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Music & Arts CD-990
The fidelity is not the best but you will never hear piano playing like this anywhere else. William Kapell might have become the one of the greatest pianist who ever lived if he had not been killed at a young age in a plane crash. The Brahms has much better sound than the Prokofiev but these performances are so awesome that they are worth the effort.
Rubinstein RCA 5613-2-RC
Rubinstein RCA 60047-2-RG
All Rubinstein/Chopin recordings are treasures. It is difficult to say which are better than others. If you like Chopin, get them all.
Dvorak: Symphony No. 8
Silvestri – London Philharmonic Disky DB 707432
Walter – Columbia Symphony Sony SMK 64 484
I use to think that no performance of the 8th could be better than Walter’s, then I found Silvestri.
Elgar: Cello Concerto / Sea Pictures
DuPre – Cello / Baker – Soprano EMI CDC 7 47329 2
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest discs ever recorded. I can give it no higher recommendation.
Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Rubinstein / Jorda – San Francisco Symphony – RCA 09026 63032-2
There is no more magical night on earth than this recording. The sound on the AR Vol. 32 edition and the Living Stereo CD are identical so get either one.
Grieg: Peer Gynt (Complete)
Dreier – London Symphony Unicorn UK CD 2003-4
Chocked full of wonderful music.
Hanson: Symphony No. 1 “Nordic”
Schwarz – Seattle Symphony Delos D/CD 3073
I was at the performance of this symphony shortly before this recording was made. Schwarz brought the house down. This wasn’t another one of those famous has-beens performing a worn out concerto so I might as well stand and applaud ovations. This was the real thing for a piece that few if any in the audience had ever heard before, brilliantly played and with such a rousing ending that you just had no choice but to leap to your feet and cheer. The rest of the Schwarz – Hanson recordings are also excellent.
Massenet: Piano Concerto
Ciccolini / Cambreling – Orchestra Philharmonic de Monte-Carlo EMI CDM 7 64277 2
This is one of my favorite concertos and it remains virtually unheard. Great fun to listen to.
Offenbach: Gaite Parisienne
Fiedler – Boston Pops RCA 09026-61847-2
Has anyone ever made a recording with this much gaite? I doubt it!
Orff: Carmina Burana
Jochum – Berlin Opera & Chorus DG 447 437-2
One of my favorite pieces.
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (Complete)
Maazel – Cleveland Orchestra London 289 452 970-2
Another amazing piece heard best complete instead of as abridged suites.
The Complete Recordings RCA 09026-61265-2
A Window in Time – Telarc CD-80489 and CD-80491
The Concertos and Rhapsody with superb transfers on Naxos by Mark Obert-Thorn are superior to those in the RCA set so buy them first then get the RCA box of treasures. Rachmaninoff conducting his Isle of the Dead and playing the Chopin “Funeral March” Sonata No. 2 is worth the price alone. The two Telarc discs must be the best transfers of piano rolls ever done with one fatal flaw. They are performed on a Bösendorfer which I suppose is a fine piano except Rachmaninoff played a Steinway and quite simply a Bösendorfer does not sound like a Steinway. In any case, hearing Rachmaninoff’s technique in modern sound is a true revelation.
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G
Argerich / Abbado – Berlin Philharmonic DG 419 062-2
A very beautiful concerto played by who I think is the greatest living pianist who, alas, performs and records to seldom.
Respighi: Concerto in Modo Misolidio for Piano and Orchestra
Hanke / Fredman – Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Marco Polo 8.220176
For those only familiar with the Pines/Fountains/Feste Roman Trilogy, this piece blows them all out of the water. The disc includes the Three Preludes on Gregorian Themes for Piano Solo the beauty of which brings tears to my eyes and shivers down my spine. They later became orchestrated as Church Windows. Sonya Hanke is an wonderful pianist. Are there any other recordings by her?
Saint-Saens: Symphony No. 3 “Organ”
Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra Sony SBK 47655
Another of my favorite pieces and recordings.
Sibelius: Four Legends from the Kalevala
Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra EMI CDC-7 47612 2
One of my favorite composers. Generally somewhat cold austere music with moments of incredible drama.
Sibelius: Symphony No. 1
Stokowski – National Philharmonic Sony SB2K 63260 or EMI 75480
My favorite use to be Ormandy, but this wipes everything else away. How do you do this at 94 years old?
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra Sony SBK 53 261
Another of my favorite pieces and recordings.
Smetana: My Country
Talich – Czech Philharmonic – Supraphon 11 1896-2 001
I have tried to keep this list to more modern stereo recordings, but I love the energy of this 1954 mono performance.
Tchaikovsky: Francesca Da Rimini / Bizet: Symphony in C
Munch – Royal Philharmonic Chesky CD 7
An incredibly dramatic piece describing a story from Dante’s “Inferno”. The Bizet is also great fun. Better performance than Stokowski’s which seem to get more press.
Tchaikovsky: Concerto No.1 / Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 3
Argerich / Chaily / Kondrashin Philips 446 673-2
My favorite Tchaikovsky concerto performance and what was billed on the sticker as “The Ultimate Rachmaninoff 3rd” to which I heartily agree (although Rachmaninoff’s own recording is also pretty darn good). Most piano lovers have always known that the 3rd concerto is better than the still very lovely but much more often played 2nd concerto.
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake (Complete)
Dutoit – Montreal London 436 212-2
If you have only heard short suites of Swan Lake, you are in for a real surprise. There is more great music in this one composition than most composers generate in a lifetime.
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Kogan / Silvestri EMI 0777 7 67732 2 3 or 7243 5 74757 2 3
One of the greatest violinists teamed up with one of the greatest conductors. An absolutely stunning performance with one of the best sounding violins I have ever heard.
Vaughn Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Warren-Green – London Chamber Orchestra – Virgin 7243 5 61126 2 9
Marriner – ASMF Argo 414 595-2
A beautiful example of British “Pastoral Music”. I love this stuff for a nice quiet evening with the lights off. My favorite performance of this material use to be the wonderful Marriner recording but it has been surpassed by the Warren-Green performances. WG as “The Lark Ascending” is truly one of the most expressive examples of violin playing I have ever heard.
Vaughn Williams: A London Symphony
Hickox – London Symphony Orchestra Chandos CHAN 9902
A truly stunning recording. I would rather listen to the 2nd movement than go to heaven.
Modern / Contemporary
Sondheim: Sweeney Todd
No opera composer has written a more skilled and intense work – period.
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Too many shows, too much dope, too much applause, Pink descends into madness.
Keith Jarrett: Vienna Concert
“I have courted the fire for a very long time, and many sparks have flown in the past, but the music on this recording speaks, finally, the language of the flame itself”.
The man and the music are fire incarnate. Sparks fly in “The Köln Concert”.