Monday, July 23, 2012

Sony's Complete Toscanini

Over fifty years after his death, it must be difficult for audiences to grasp the importance of Arturo Toscanini's contribution to music. George Szell summed it up best, in reaction to hearing Toscanini in 1930: "This was orchestral performance of a kind new to all of us. The clarity of texture; the precision of ensemble; the rightness of balances; the virtuosity of every section, every solo player in the orchestra - then at its peak - in the service of an interpretative concept of evident, self-effacing integrity, enforced with irresistible willpower and unflagging ardor, set new, undreamed-of standards literally overnight." Today, we take for granted what Szell marveled over, and that's mainly thanks to Toscanini and his successors - including Szell. Thus, it's no exaggeration to say that Toscanini initiated the modern era of conducting.

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