- Francesca da Rimini, symphonic fantasy for orchestra in E minor, Op. 32
- Serenade for strings (or piano, 4 hands) in C major, Op. 48
Recorded in quadraphonic surround sound in 1974, this disc has several things going for it. First is the sound. Not only were the original recordings marvelous -- the detail, the color, and especially the depth of the recordings is unsurpassable -- but the super audio remastering is fantastic -- one seems to be sitting in Wembly's Brent Town Hall about 10 rows back from an orchestra playing full tilt on a stage elevated about five feet. Second are the performances. Leopold Stokowski was an old man when he made these recordings, but his performances still have the sparkle, the color, the drive, and the panache of the performances of his youth. Third is the orchestra. While Stokowski had built several great orchestras in his career -- one immediately thinks of the fabulous Philadelphia Orchestra of the interwar years -- it is good to hear him leading the London Symphony, at the time the finest studio orchestra in England with its strong but supple strings, its blended but characterful winds, its polished but powerful brass, its no holds barred percussion, and its virtuosic ensemble. Coming in a distant fourth, however, is half the repertoire. Tchaikovsky's first-class "Serenade for Strings" is a cheerful and charming work whose ardently singing qualities are superbly caught in Stokowski's buoyant conducting and the LSO's brilliant playing. But Tchaikovsky's fourth-class "Francesca da Rimini" is a turgid and tortured work whose cobbled structure and feeble invention is all too apparent in Stokowski's pedal to the metal conducting and the LSO's hell-bent for leather playing. Still, the opportunity to hear Stokowski and the LSO's "Serenade for Strings" in its remastered splendor is not to be missed by the conductor's admirers.