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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “First Love”

August 13, 2008

Dear Michael,

Since childhood Arturo Toscanini has been almost like one of the saints that the Nunns taught me in the 1940s and 1950s Maestro Toscanini recorded the Saint Saens sym #3 “Organ” and it is a performance I am always eager to share. The small organ he chose I know some folks are annoyed by, but the excitement and the perfect balance he achieved, makes it awesome. Please play this recording on the show, it’s RCA BMG.




Thanks for your email. I know that I, too, have recordings through which I was introduced to important classical scores which, still today, seem to be the standards by which I judge all others...Reiner’s RCA recording of the Verdi Requiem, for instance.
As for the Saint-Saens, interesting as Toscanini’s interpretation may be (and I agree that it is), my favorite remains a later RCA release, in stereo, with Charles MüSnch, an Alsacian conductor who’s balance of French and German ‘personalities’ seem totally in synch with Saint-Saens (the “French Beethoven”). Münch’s shaping of the Boston Symphony (with Berj Zamkochian at Boston Symphony Hall’s Aeolian-Skinner, an instrument really capable of making an impression and truly representing the score) is nigh unto perfection.
Some day I may do a program comparing elements of various recordings, in which context Toscanini would appear, briefly. Then interested folks could go off and buy the CD and enjoy it in its entirety. More likely, I’ll use one or another of several available concert performances by various orchestras inaugurating new pipe organs in new concert rooms.
So much music, so little time. :-)
Thanks again.





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