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CD Review

Richard Wagner

Parsifal Transcriptions

  • The Good Friday Spell
  • Symphonic Synthesis of Act III
Houston Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
Everest SDBR-3031
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The editorial team at Classical Net has a policy regarding reviews that we require the physical copy of a disc whenever possible. Therefore, I've had the opportunity and pleasure to cover Countdown Media's Everest reissues through This disc presents me with a challenge, because I am inclined to recommend the alternative purchasing option through iTunes. The disc lasts less than 30 minutes – it must have been a really short LP – and so despite this still being a CD review, I am comfortable advocating for either, especially if you aren't yet invested in the series.

Either way, this is an important album. To my knowledge, it completes the Wagner output for Stokowski on Everest, and his fans will want this no matter the cost. The selections on SDBR-3070 border on the outlandish as far as arrangements, and so are either more fun or more offensive. That LP also had couplings. They were strange couplings in that nobody was buying the record for a Fantasy by Thomas Canning, but they at least made a reasonable program for the time. This present reissue lacks couplings, and the arrangements are toned down a bit. You'll find this good or bad, but the Houston Symphony again plays very well, and hearing the old man in this music is always distinctive. Lacking some polish, the orchestra nonetheless gives Stokowski everything he wants. Few podium giants could so easily impose their will on different bands; someone forgot to tell Stokowski how hard that was. If you can look past the unidiomatic nature of this disc, and forgive a few shaky moments here and there, no matter what medium you decide upon, this is worth hearing.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman