It's sad that the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" reissue series has not gotten more attention, because it has my vote for the best reissue program thus far of the 21st Century. Drawing from the archives of all the major classical labels (EMI, Sony, BMG, DG, Decca, Philips, Supraphon, etc.), EMI and IMG Artists have assembled a wonderful series of affordable two-disc sets by the leading conductors of the last century. And unlike its counterpart, "The Great Pianists of the 20th Century," which are basically compilations of material already available on other CDs, the "Great Conductors" features rare and, for the most part, previously unreleased performances! And as if that wasn't enough, the most recent volumes (beginning with no. 25) are now available at mid-line instead of full-price!
This particular CD, Volume 34, features the great Felix Weingartner, and as the track information is non-existent above, allow me to tell what is contained in this fine collection. This 2CD set begins with works by Beethoven, a Weingartner specialty -- the Creatures of Prometheus Overture (Vienna Philharmonic, 1936) and the 2nd Symphony (London SO, 1938). Next are the March from Berlioz's "Les Troyens" (Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire, 1939) and Weber's "Invitation to the Dance" (London PO, 1938). Disc one concludes with Brahms' 3rd Symphony (also London PO, 1938) -- an outstanding reading and along with the Beethoven 2nd, the highlight of this set. Disc two begins with Weingartner's only Mozart Symphony recording, the 39th (LPO, 1940), though this rare document is marred by poor sound. The collection wraps up with two selections each by Wagner and Liszt -- the "Rienzi" Overture (OSCC, 1939) and "Siegfried-Idyll" (LPO, 1938), and "Les Preludes" and "Mephisto Waltz No. 1" (both LSO, 1940) respectively. A final note, as Weingartner died in 1942, all of the selections are in mono.
Whether you are a serious collector of classical music or a beginner, the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" has something for everyone. If the prized, rare performances don't excite you, then use this as an opportunity to check out one of the greatest conductors ever recorded. Chances are, since stores are offering increasingly homogenized classical music sections, this conductor might not be in your collection. And that would truly be a shame.