STOKOWSKI Falla: El Amor Brujo, Noches en los jardines de España (1948/49) - PASC174

This album is included in the following sets:

STOKOWSKI Falla: El Amor Brujo, Noches en los jardines de España (1948/49) - PASC174

Regular price €0.00 €13.00 Sale

Regular price €0.00 €14.00 Sale

All our CDs are produced to order. Please note that there will therefore be a short delay between placing an order and it being ready to leave us. We'll let you know by e-mail when your order ships

Overview

FALLA El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician)
FALLA Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain)

Recorded 1948 & 1949
Total duration: 44:44

Nan Merriman, mezzo-soprano
William Kapell,
piano
New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Leopold Stokowski

This set contains the following albums:

Stokowski sets de Falla on fire!

Stunning live performances full of Spanish passion

 

"Here, perhaps goaded by the presence of an audience, is Stokowski at his most fiery, with a soloist who can handle whatever is thrown at her without resorting to the crudities that sometimes pass for earthy “passion.” If anything, I would have preferred a bit more poise from the podium, but it’s certainly an intense, driving performance that never loses tension and the orchestra really digs in and plays for him...

“Respectable” would be a tame description for the Kapell/Stokowski Nights. Once again, Stokowski seems charged with energy and, once again, has a soloist who can do more than merely keep up with him... A previous CD issued by the Japan Leopold Stokowski Society was listenable (especially if you liked this performance), but was marred by some scratchy surfaces that were on the original transcriptions. This one is a bit brighter and yet minimizes the noise, giving new life to an exciting glimpse of the past..." - James Miller, Fanfare Jan/Feb 2010


Stokowski performed El Amor Brujo four times with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra - once on 5th January, 1947, and then in three concert in March 1948 (18th, 19th and 21st) - and in each concert the soloist was the mezzo-soprano Nan Merriman. This recording is taken from the last of those concerts; when one hears the intensity and passion that both soloist and musicians bring to this performance, it's tempting to believe they had distilled all the energy of the previous concerts into this one final outing.

I've listened to a number of recordings of the same work whilst preparing this restoration and none has the power, passion, and dark Spanish gypsy magic that I find here in this sensational and riveting performance - as perfectly demonstrated in our sample excerpt on this page, Song of Love's Sorrow. I can only believe that this captivating recording has remained unissued due to the sonic shortcomings of the original recording - shortcomings that only a remastering technique such as Pristine's XR process can really tackle.

This remastering was sourced from open-reel tapes compiled by Stokowski's assistant, Jack Baumgarten. Both concerts had originally been captured on disc, and both exhibited unusual sonic deficiencies - the tape box has the words "unfocussed sound" pencilled in next to the details of El amor brujo, which is no great surprise as my XR remastering revealed a loss of up to 20dB between 3 and 5kHz, as well as a 15dB drop centred around 550Hz, both of which sucked a huge amount of life out of the recording. A similar frequency loss, about 18dB, was noted above about 4.5kHz in Nights in the Gardens of Spain, leaving a very muffled top end.

Restoring these missing frequencies brought both recordings very much to life - the transformation of the first in particular was truly remarkable - but also then required considerable noise reduction targeted at those same frequency ranges as bringing up the music has inevitably also amplified the tape hiss. Both recordings then required extensive close attention to deal with individual defects now revealed by the severe re-equalisation required. The end results do, I hope, speak for themselves, as do these two absolutely wonderful performances.

Andrew Rose

  • de Falla: El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician) - PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED
    with Nan Merriman, mezzo-soprano, rec. 21st March, 1948

  • de Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Noches en los jardines de España)
    with William Kapell, piano, rec. 13th November, 1949


Nan Merriman, mezzo-soprano

William Kapell, piano
New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Leopold Stokowski

Recorded at Carnegie Hall, 21st March 1948 & 13th November, 1949

Sourced from tapes in the Jack Baumgarten archive
Tapes from the collection of Edward Johnson
Transfers and XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, June-July 2009
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Manuel de Falla

Total duration: 44:44 


Fanfare Review

Stokowski seems charged with energy and has a soloist who can do more than merely keep up with him


I usually avoid reading annotations until I’ve listened to a recording, just to be sure I’m not influenced by them. The result, in this case, was quite a jolt in the form of applause at the end of El amor brujo. I had assumed that I was listening to the Stokowski/Hollywood Bowl recording that once appeared on an RCA Victor LP. I suppose that’s an indirect tribute to Andrew Rose, who handled the resuscitation of this 1948 broadcast. In fact, I wonder why Pristine Audio didn’t just redo the Hollywood Bowl recording, instead of the intensive labor that must have been required by this broadcast, which was originally preserved on somewhat noisy transcription discs. In any event, here, perhaps goaded by the presence of an audience, is Stokowski at his most fiery, with a soloist who can handle whatever is thrown at her without resorting to the crudities that sometimes pass for earthy “passion.” If anything, I would have preferred a bit more poise from the podium, but it’s certainly an intense, driving performance that never loses tension and the orchestra really digs in and plays for him. Well and good, but, if you want what is, at least for me, the ultimate El amor brujo, Stokowski is still your man, but I would highly recommend his 1960 stereo recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Shirley Verrett, still available on Sony Essential Classics—for once, “essential” isn’t much of an exaggeration. Here, while there is no letup in intensity or expression, the performance is less hard-driven and lacks nothing in the way of expression; the Philadelphia Orchestra is at the top of its form. As a bonus, one gets Ormandy’s excellent Three-Cornered Hat dances and a respectable Nights in the Gardens of Spain with Ormandy and Philippe Entremont (for once, his metallic tone fits the music).


“Respectable” would be a tame description for the Kapell/Stokowski Nights. Once again, Stokowski seems charged with energy and, once again, has a soloist who can do more than merely keep up with him. Anyone who is familiar with my reviews of recordings of this piece will know that I prefer fast-moving, rhythmically charged performances to slower, “atmospheric” ones, meaning that my favorites are, say, Del Pueyo/Martinon, Webber/Fricsay, Casadesus/Ansermet, the three Artur Rubinsteins (with Golschmann, Jorda, and Ormandy), and this one—at 21: 48, it moves along smartly. A previous CD issued by the Japan Leopold Stokowski Society was listenable (especially if you liked this performance), but was marred by some scratchy surfaces that were on the original transcriptions. This one is a bit brighter and yet minimizes the noise, giving new life to an exciting glimpse of the past. The soloist-to-orchestra balance seems just on both broadcasts. Perhaps to establish its authenticity, Pristine has allowed just a bit of James Fassett’s closing announcement to end the disc. (The announcement at the end of El amor brujo, intriguingly enough, is in Spanish!)


James Miller

This article originally appeared in Issue 33:3 (Jan/Feb 2010) of Fanfare Magazine.