Missa Solemnis - Toscanini;  Milanov, Thorborg, von Pataky, Moscona  (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1086)
Item# C1580
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Missa Solemnis - Toscanini;  Milanov, Thorborg, von Pataky, Moscona  (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1086)
C1580. ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. BBC S.O., w.BBC Choral Society; Zinka Milanov, Kerstin Thorborg, Koloman von Pataky & Nicola Moscona: MISSA SOLEMNIS, Live Performance, 28 May, 1939, Queens Hall, London; ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. BBC S.O.: Symphony #7 in A (Live Performance, 14 June, 1935, Queen's Hall); 'Pastoral' Symphony #6 in F; 'The Creatures of Prometheus' Overture (all Beethoven), recorded 1935-39. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1086. Restoration by Richard Caniell. Includes 26pp Booklet w.notes by Robert Matthew-Walker & Richard Caniell. - 752830574533


"In 1999, the BBC issued an official release of the 1939 MISSA, coupled with Toscanini-BBC SO concert performances of the Cherubini Anacreon Overture, Mozart's 'Haffner' Symphony, and Beethoven's Seventh. The MISSA SOLEMNIS on that set, while quite listenable, suffers to a degree from shifting perspectives (probably the result of volume control micromanagement by the broadcast engineers) and lack of presence and definition for the solo voices. That shortcoming extended to Paul Beard’s heavenly violin solo in the 'Benedictus' (Beard was Thomas Beecham's personal choice in 1932 to be the leader of the newly formed London Philharmonic Orchestra). And it was Beard's solo in the 'Benedictus' in the 1939 MISSA that served as the inspiration for Richard Caniell to try his hand at a new restoration of the performance. Caniell acknowledges that the original broadcast recording is compromised, and capable of only so much improvement. But I do believe that Richard Caniell and Immortal Performances have succeeded in achieving a brighter, livelier acoustic, and one that gives greater due to the detail Toscanini achieved in this fine performance.

The MISSA SOLEMNIS is derived from one of several concerts Toscanini performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra during the 1930s. Toscanini also made a series of acclaimed commercial recordings with the BBC SO. A palpable chemistry existed between the Maestro and this fine orchestra. As such, their commercial and in-performance recordings are a worthy complement to Toscanini’s magnificent 1930s collaborations with the New York Philharmonic. The second disc of this new Immortal Performances all-Beethoven release presents new restorations of two commercial recordings, 'The Creatures of Prometheus' Overture (June 1, 1939) and the 'Pastoral' Symphony (October 21 and 22, 1937), and a June 14, 1935 concert performance of the Symphony #7. The 'Prometheus' Overture offers a marvelous synthesis of bracing tempos, immaculate execution, and rich, singing tone. The BBC SO 'Pastoral' has long held a special place in the Toscanini discography. Among all of Toscanini's documented interpretations of this work the BBC recording, without ever shortchanging the work's more propulsive, dramatic moments, has a warmth and lightness of spirit that set it apart. The Beethoven Seventh is a scintillating, thrilling performance that culminates in a hair-raising finale, inspiring an ecstatic response from the Queen's Hall audience. The studio 'Pastoral' has been reissued several times, including RCA's comprehensive Toscanini set. The 'Prometheus' and Beethoven Seventh are part of a four-disc West Hill Radio Archive set devoted to Toscanini's 1935 BBC SO concerts. All of these releases serve the music very well. In his new restorations, Richard Caniell takes a different (and I think preferable) approach. In Caniell's remasterings more surface noise is evident, although I do not find it intrusive at all. But the acoustic in the new restorations is correspondingly more open, transparent, and detailed. I find it a more realistic and musical sonic canvas.

Robert Matthew-Walker offers a beautifully written and informative essay on Toscanini's relationship with the BBC SO, and the included performances. In addition to artist photos and bios, Richard Caniell authors a detailed and passionate narrative of the challenges Toscanini faced while attempting to have his interpretations appropriately recorded and reproduced, as well as the efforts by Immortal Performances to restore the 1939 MISSA SOLEMNIS. Richard Caniell's superb restorations are now my preferred versions of all the performances included on this set. A first-rate release in every respect, and highly recommended."

- Ken Meltzer, FANFARE, Nov. / Dec., 2017