PASC188 - Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, Eight Stokowski Encores

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Leopold Stokowski and His Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Leopold Stokowski

Recorded 1947-1955

Transfers by Edward Johnson
Restoration and XR remastering by Andrew Rose, August 2009
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Leopold Stokowski

Total duration: 74:03
©2009 Pristine Audio.


Download ID: 1129786-9

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A magnificent Tchaikovsky 5 from Stokowski

Plus eight favourite Encores - all remastered and reissued for the first time


"The results engineer Andrew Rose has achieved in remastering said material are little short of remarkable. I have several RCA Stokowski LPs from the early 1950s in my collection, but they sound nothing like this CD. Surface noise has been eliminated ... The detail and balance in the Symphony surpass that in the later stereo recording by Stokowski for London Phase-4. This CD is further proof that, given the current state of remastering technology, a talented engineer can achieve better results from vinyl sources than a less talented one can from the master tapes ... Tchaikovsky’s Fifth was a Stokowski warhorse... As exciting as the stereo account with the New Philharmonia is, that orchestra cannot match the beauty of tone mustered by the select group of New York players Stokowski led in 1953... This CD is urgently recommended." - Dave Saemann, Fanfare March/April 2010


  • TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64
    Recorded 10th and 12th February 1953, issued as RCA Victor LP LM 1780

    Orchestral Section Leaders:
    : Louis Gabowitz
    Violas: William Lincer, Walter Trampler
    1st Cello: Leonard Rose
    1st Bass: Joseph de Angelis
    Flutes: James Politis, Harold Bennett
    1st Oboe: Robert Bloom
    1st Clarinet: Robert McGinnis
    1st Bassoon: William Polisi
    1st Horn: James Chambers
    1st Trumpet: William Vacchiano
    Timpani: Elayne Jones

  • TCHAIKOVSKY Solitude, Op.73, No.6
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Humoresque, Op.10, No.2
    Recorded 25th February 1953, issued on RCA Victor LP LM 1774

  • CHOPIN Prelude in E minor, Op.28, No.4
  • CHOPIN Prelude in D minor, Op.28, No.24
    Recorded 8th November 1950, issued on RCA Victor LP LM 1238

  • HANDEL Pastorale (from The Messiah)
    Recorded 27th March 1947, issued on RCA Victor 45rpm EP ERA-119

  • STRAUSS Tales from the Vienna Woods (shortened version)
    Recorded 13th January 1955, issued on RCA Victor 45rpm 447-0780

  • STRAUSS On The Beautiful Blue Danube (shortened version)
    Recorded 9th February 1955, issued on RCA Victor 45rpm 447-0780

Review of this release: Gramophone, January 2010

Review of this release: Audiophile Audition


Notes on the recording:

When the Stokowski Society were choosing recordings for their two final releases in conjunction with Cala Records, this recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, described by the Society's Edward Johnson as "one of the best-sounding of the 1950s "his Symphony Orchestra" RCA recordings which he made with his specially-selected band of top-flight New York musicians", narrowly missed out in favour of a 1947 recording of Dvorák's Symphony from the New World. No doubt that had that series continued (the Dvorák was the penultimate collaboration between the Stokowski Society, currently being wound up after 30 years' existence, and Cala) this particular recording would shortly have seen a release there.

As it is, we are delighted to be able to offer not only this wonderful recording, in a vibrant new XR-remastered transfer, but also a collection of Stokowski's encore pieces never previously issued in any digital format. These works highlight the conductor's acclaimed brilliance as an orchestrator and arranger, with piano and vocal works from Tchaikovsky and Chopin among the highlights.

A degree of investigation into the Ippolitov-Ivanov work In A Manger suggests that the Russian composer had actually provided an arrangement of a traditional Slavic Christmas Carol, and that what we hear in this incarnation is Stokowski's orchestral arrangement of a choral version of Ippolitov-Ivanov's orchestration! On the 7-inch EP from which this was taken, entitled Season's Greetings from Leopold Stokowski, the piece is entitled 'Russian Christmas Music' and credited as a Traditional composition - we have chosen to re-assign it to the composer whose name now normally stands alongside it, together with the title he gave it!

Of particularly unusual interest is the penultimate selection, Strauss's Tales from the Vienna Wood, in a shortened version with an electric guitar section recorded separately on the same day as the orchestra and edited in to create the full release. The guitar has received electronic treatment to add echo effects and a sound which vaguely resembles a zither - it makes an appearance toward the start of the arrangement, and is never heard thereafter! Incidentally, these two 'abridged' Strauss waltzes were recorded with the NBC Symphony but issued as being by "Stokowski and his Symphony Orchestra". Longer versions recorded at the same sessions for an 'Extended Play' 45 rpm disc were correctly attributed to the NBC SO.

As Edward Johnson notes with regard to his choices here, "the 8 "Encores" were chosen for their variety, and also because Stokowski invariably had at least one encore lined up for his concerts and sometimes several. This same formula has been adopted on this release, with all these little recordings now making their very first appearances on CD."

At Pristine Audio we've been delighted to be able to work with Edward Johnson and the Stokowski Society, and look forward to a continued working relationship beyond the era of the Stokowski Society itself and Cala Records' Stokowski series.

Andrew Rose



Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

musical notes from Wikipedia


The Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was composed between May and August 1888 and was first performed in St Petersburg on November 6 of that year with Tchaikovsky conducting.

A typical performance of his Symphony No. 5 lasts about 46 minutes. The symphony is in four movements:

  1. Andante — Allegro con anima (E minor)
  2. Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza (D major)
  3. Valse: Allegro moderato (A major)
  4. Andante maestoso— Allegro vivace (E major → E minor → E major)

Like the Symphony No. 4, the Fifth is a cyclical symphony due to the recurrence of the "motto" theme in more than one movement. Unlike the Fourth, however, the theme is heard in all four movements, a feature Tchaikovsky had first used in the Manfred Symphony, which was completed less than two years before the Fifth. The "motto" theme itself is derived from a passage in Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar—significantly, a passage using the words "turn not into sorrow". The motto theme has a funereal character in the first movement, but gradually transforms into a triumphant march, which dominates the final movement. Tchaikovsky was attracted to this particular theme because the topic of the Fifth Symphony is Providence, which is closely related to Fate, the theme of the Fourth symphony. The changing character of the motto over the course of the symphony seems to imply that Tchaikovsky is expressing optimism with regard to fate, an outlook that would not return in his Sixth Symphony.


Critical Reaction

Some critics, including Tchaikovsky himself, have considered the ending insincere or even crude. After the second performance, Tchaikovsky wrote, "I have come to the conclusion that it is a failure". Despite this, the symphony has gone on to become one of the composer's most popular works. The second movement, in particular, is considered to be classic Tchaikovsky: well crafted, colorfully orchestrated, and with a memorable melody for solo horn.

For some reason, possibly the very clear musical exposition of the idea of "ultimate victory through strife", the Fifth was very popular during World War II, with many new recordings of the work, and many symphonic performances during those years. One of the most notable performances was by the Leningrad Radio Symphony Orchestra during the Siege of Leningrad. City leaders had ordered the orchestra to continue its performances to keep the spirits high in the city. On the night of October 20, 1941 they played Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 at the city's Philharmonic Hall and it was broadcast live to London. As the second movement began, bombs started to fall nearby, but the orchestra continued playing until the final note. Since the war it has remained very popular, but has been somewhat eclipsed in popularity by the Fourth and Sixth Symphonies.

Critical reaction to the work was mixed, with some enthusiasm in Russia. Berezovsky wrote, "The Fifth Symphony is the weakest of Tchaikovsky's symphonies, but nevertheless it is a striking work, taking a prominent place not only among the composer's output but among Russian works in general. ... the entire symphony seems to spring from some dark spiritual experience."

On the symphony's first performance in the United States, critical reaction, especially in Boston, was almost unanimously hostile. A reviewer for the Boston Evening Transcript, October 24, 1892, wrote:

"Of the Fifth Tchaikovsky Symphony one hardly knows what to say ... In the Finale we have all the untamed fury of the Cossack, whetting itself for deeds of atrocity, against all the sterility of the Russian steppes. The furious peroration sounds like nothing so much as a horde of demons struggling in a torrent of brandy, the music growing drunker and drunker. Pandemonium, delirium tremens, raving, and above all, noise worse confounded!"

The reception in New York was little better. A reviewer for the Musical Courier, March 13, 1889, wrote:

"In the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony ... one vainly sought for coherency and homogeneousness ... in the last movement, the composer's Calmuck blood got the better of him, and slaughter, dire and bloody, swept across the storm-driven score."


Uses of the Symphony

The 5th symphony was used in 1933 by the Russian-born choreographer Léonide Massine for his - and the world's - first symphonic ballet, Les Présages. This caused a furore amongst musical purists, who objected to a serious symphonic work being used as the basis of a ballet.

Various passages from this symphony were used in the 1937 motion picture Maytime, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. The music appears not only in some of the background score, but also in the form of a sung pastiche invented by Herbert Stothart as a fictitious French opera entitled Czaritsa, "composed" by the character Trentini for the lead soprano (MacDonald).

The second movement was featured prominently in the 1986 film "Lucas".

Part of the second movement was given English lyrics under the title Moon Love, recorded by Glenn Miller among others.



Notes from Wikipedia:
Full Score at IMSLP:,_Op.64_(Tchaikovsky,_Pyotr_Ilyich)



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Symphony 5:
4th mvt: Andante maestoso - Allegro Vivace

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