The charm and sheer full-blooded pleasure offered by Stokowski, Leopold’s transcriptions continues to hold sway today – complete with opulent and resonant strings – some three decades after the dynamic conductor’s death. The ‘Stokowski Sound’ was particularly, indeed deliberately, well-suited to the possibilities offered with the development of stereo recording of the maestro’s ay, a challenge which Glossa’s engineer Manuel Mohino has happily embraced as much as the Brussels Philharmonic, whose members have taken to this style like ducks to water, in this modern-day “Evening with Stokowski, Leopold”.
Leading the way with a classy swagger in transcriptions of Bach, Purcell and Palestrina is conductor Richard Egarr, perhaps better known for his work with the unadorned originals (he is the Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, after all), but in reality equally at home in much later music – and he makes no bones about his appreciation of the Stokowski style. About the transcription of Dido’s Lament Egarr says, “It is still Purcell, even in Stokowski`s fur coat.” and, for added emphasis, he conjures up his own orchestral confection of Handel’s Water Music. An evening’s entertainment of unalloyed pleasure culminating in a triumphant rendition of the Slavonic March by Tchaikovsky, à la Stokowski, naturally.
“This vivid act of reclamation has so much to teach, and to enjoy. It shows that Stokowski`s arrangements were made not only with love but acuity; that their flair and poetry may survive beyond his own performances, given the flair and commitment displayed by the Brussels Philharmonic” GRAMOPHONE