Stokowski: Symphonic Transcriptions, Vol. 2: Bach, Palestrina, Byrd, Clarke, Boccherini, Mattheson, Haydn

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COMPOSERS: Stokowski
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphonic Transcriptions, Vol. 2: Bach, Palestrina, Byrd, Clarke, Boccherini, Mattheson, Haydn
PERFORMER: Bournemouth SO/José Serebrier
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572050

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One odd if fascinating side-effect of these Bach transcriptions is the pre-echoes you can hear of later composers in what Stokowski does with the orchestrations. The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, for instance, shoots off in angular swathes of sharp-edged string writing, like some gaunt adumbration of Boris Godunov.

The Adagio from BWV564 for organ is, by contrast, like a lost Rachmaninov orchestral interlude, while the B minor fugue from the 48’s Book 1 could almost be a Schumann symphonic intermezzo.

Noticeable throughout is Stokowski’s undeniable skill and power as an orchestrator, and how empathetically he feels the import of a particular composition.

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This is true also of arrangements of other composers that are included: brooding meditations on pieces by Palestrina and Byrd, for instance, really do invite reassessment of the specific emotional gravity of the music. Essential. Terry Blain