Sunday, March 12, 2006

Toscanini on DVD

So this is interesting: Toscanini's "Television Concerts," recorded with the NBC Orchestra in the late '40s and early 50s, have been cleaned up and re-released on DVD. The music is the stuffiest of the stuffy--Beethoven's 5th, Brahms's 1st, Ride of the Valkyries, Verdi's Aida--but we are willing to ignore that. After all, every cliche seemed like genius the first time around, and in many cases, it was Toscanini's genius, imitated poorly and often, that made this music into cliche. (A young Toscanini was in the orchestra the night of several Verdi premieres, for chrissakes, and Toscanini himself conducted the premieres of the cliche of cliches, Barber's Adagio for Strings, as well as now-played out classical "greatest hits" like La Boheme.)

We saw some of this footage on an earlier VHS release which was plagued by a poor synch of the audio and video tracks, but the WaPo and Amazon reviewers assure us that this has been fixed. Oddly, the introductory remarks and announcements are by Martin "Voice of the NY Philharmonic" Bookspan in the 80s and not original NBC announcer Ben Grauer. Worth a look.

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