An example of the
difficulties of recording, even with the
electrical process was the celesta. In this
1926 recording, the celesta was played by Gustave
A. Loeben, who played by cello and keyboard in the
orchestra for 35 years, 1919-1954.
The recording of the celesta required the
difficult compromise between making the celesta
audible, versus picking up the internal mechanism of this
light instrument. We can imagine how recording
the celesta would have been well beyond any ability of the
acoustic process to capture.
This 1926 recording
of the Nutcracker was originally released as
three separate disks,
Victor 6615, 6615 and 6617. Then, in 1928 when
Victor began to issue the famous series
of Victor Albums titled "Musical Masterpiece
Series", the Nutcracker became Victor M-3, which
remained in the Victor catalog until in
early 1935, the Stokowski - Philadelphia
recording which had been recorded the previous
November was released.
The sound and performances of these items from
the Nutcracker remain thrilling today, and
demonstrate just how extensive were the advances
of the Victor engineers and of Stokowski in the
year since the first 1925 electrical recordings.
No doubt, recording in the Academy of Music was
also a favorable factor in both the sound and
the musicality of these performances.
Konstantin Ivanov concept for the original production of
Act 2 of The Nutcracker 1892
The music from the Nutcracker, below, is
organized into two parts. Part 1 includes
the first three sides of the Victor album, which
- Miniature Overture (Ouverture miniature)
- March (Marche)
- Dance of the
Sugar Plum Fairy (Danse de la fée Dragée)
- Trepak - Russian Dance (Danse russe).
Part 2 includes music from the final three sides of the album:
- Arabian Dance (Danse arabe)
- Chinese Dance (Danse chinoise)
- Dance of the Flutes (Danse des Mirlitons)
- Waltz of the Flowers (Valse des fleurs).
Click here to listen to (or download) Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite - Part 1
Click here to listen to (or download) Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite - part 2
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1926 Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no 2
Later in 1926, Stokowski and the Philadelphia
Orchestra made another electrical recording
that, like the Strauss Waltzes, was destined to
be a long and best selling recording in the
Victor Red Seal library. This was the Liszt
Hungarian Rhapsody for piano no 2,
apparently orchestrated in this recording by
Stokowski, rather than the Karl
Müller-Berghaus orchestration which he used for
the 1920 acoustic recording. Stokowski's
orchestration performance sets of this Liszt
work, with his cuts reside in the Leopold
Stokowski Collection at the University of
The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody was recorded on
November 18, 1926 and March 10, 1927.
The restored recording in the links, below, were done by the mastering and restoration
engineer Marcos Abreu, and is an excellent and also subtle restoration. You can
contact him at Marcos Abreu - Audio mastering and restoration services, email
Thanks Marcos !
Click here to listen to (or download) the 1926 Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no 2
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1926 - Wagner Overture to Rienzi
Recall that in 1919, the second year of Stokowski's recordings, he made
a remarkably successful recording of Wagner's Overture to Rienzi, cut
to fit on two 12 inch Red Seal sides. On November 18, 1926, the same day
as the first work on the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no 2, Stokowski and the
Philadelphians began the recording of the full Rienzi Overture on three
sides. Sides 2 and 3 were completed on January 6,
1927. These recording dates do present a problem in that the
acoustics, or perhaps the microphone placement is different for the 1926
and 1927 recording sessions. Also, there are pitch differences among
the three sides which must be compensated. However, the result is a
grand performance, and the sound, if equalized, is excellent.
I believe you will find this recording to be an electrifying performance,
with good sound. Listen to Sol Caston's beautiful, exposed trumpet
solo of the A natural note which begins
this Overture. What a virtuoso orchestra !
Although the 1919 performance was excellent in both sound (for the acoustic
period) and performance, the recording progress demonstrated by the 1926
recording is striking. As a dramatic example of the progress in musical
reproduction represented by the introduction of electrical recording
by Victor, listen to the passage beginning about 2 minutes into the
Rienzi Overture in the 1919 recording, followed immediately by the
same brief passage from the 1926 recording. Of course, you would
expect a marked improvement, but you may find the contrast more dramatic
than you would have expected. Click the link below to compare.
Click here to listen to (download) a brief section Rienzi Overture from 1919 and 1926
Wagner's Rienzi Overture was recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra
and Stokowski on November 18, 1926 and January 6, 1927, during the
same sessions when the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no 2, and the closing
scene from Wagner's Götterdämmerung were recorded.
The Rienzi Overture was issued on three 12 inch sides of Victor 6624 and 6625
A, coupled with the closing scene from Die Götterdämmerung, recorded
also at the January 6, 1927 session. The three sides were from
matrices CVE 37004-1 (from the November 18, 1926 session), and
CVE 37700-1 and CVE 37701-2 from the January 6, 1927 session. These
recordings were issued in April, 1927.
Click here to listen to (download) the 1926 Wagner Rienzi Overture
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2 Sooy, Raymond.
Memoirs of my Recording and Traveling Experiences for
the Victor Talking Machine Company. Manuscript,
not dated, but ending with events of 1931. An
important contribution to the history of recording,
the David Sarnoff Library edited and reproduced these
memoires on their website. http://www.davidsarnoff.org/soo-maintext.html