“Of all the ‘unofficial’ Toscanini releases to appear of late, this is one of the most valuable. Younger listeners may have little awareness of the conductor’s pioneering efforts on behalf of Berlioz”
This performance of Harold (from the NBC broadcast of January 21, 1939) was the conductor’s first of four at the network, the initial three of which featured William Primrose. “Much as I abhor superlatives, this is perhaps, the finest of Toscanini’s NBC efforts. Primrose is spectacular here, playing with a virtuosity, singing line, and tonal opulence that, while highly expressive, honor Berlioz’s ‘obbligato’ specification for the solo part. And Toscanini is magnificent, shaping the opening with delicacy and tenderness, projecting the middle movements with unaffected simplicity that bespeaks extraordinary sophistication, and offering an orgiastic finale that always remains firmly controlled.
For anyone interested in Berlioz or Toscanini, this is a release to cherish.”
– Mortimer H. Frank in Fanfare
“…taut, transparent Berlioz performances from what was probably the most fruitful period in his NBC collaboration. The tone is less sleek, rougher and more varied, than it often became later on; and the rhythms, which could rigidify in his final years, are tight yet full of spring. The resilient Les Francs Juges, a work that so often seems overbearing, is especially convincing; but indeed, except for a certain detachment in parts of the Love Scene, everything here is well worth hearing, and offered in sound that’s quite good for the period.”
– Peter J. Rabinowitz in American Record Guide
TOSCANINI CONDUCTS BERLIOZ: Harold in Italy, with Primrose (2 Jan. 1939); Les Francs Juges Overture; Romeo and Juliet; Love Scene and The Damnation of Faust; Rák?czy March (all from 5 April 1941) (M) Restored in 2003 by Graham Newton. New liner notes by Christopher Dyment. Originally released in 1990. UPC #0-17685-46142-2
Sound Clips (MP3):
1. Harold en Italie, Op- 16 I- Adagio (Harold in the Mountains- Scenes of Melancholy, Happiness and Joy) – Arturo Toscanini
2. Harold en Italie, Op- 16 II- Allegretto (March of the Pilgrims Singing the Evening Prayer) – Arturo Toscanini
3. Harold en Italie, Op- 16 III- Allegro Assai (Serenade of an Abruzzi Mountain-Dweller to his Mistress) – Arturo Toscanini
4. Harold en Italie, Op- 16 IV- Allegro Frenetico (Orgy of Brigands- Memories of Scenes Past) – Arturo Toscanini
5. Les francs-juges – Arturo Toscanini
6. Romeo et Juliette, Op- 17 Love Scene – Arturo Toscanini
7. La damnation de Faust, Op- 24, Part I Scene 3 Hungarian March, Rakoczy March – Arturo Toscanini
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