Guido Cantelli was just 36 years old when he died in a plane crash in 1956.
Its amazing to think that during his short career, he was the defacto principal guest conductor of four major orchestras:
The NBC Symphony, The New York Philharmonic, The Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and Milan's La Scala.
"Guido Cantelli: Fiery Angel of the Podium" (hate the title) documents all of his EMI studio recordings with the Philharmonia Orchestra in excellent remasterings (many previously used on the Testament label). *
They are sensibly arranged in chronological order of composition - from CD 1 (Mozart + Beethoven) to CD 8 (Dukas, Falla, Ravel).
The perceptive booklet notes place every recording in context. The price is right.
Aside from the Philharmonia sessions, this box includes the EMI Tchaikovsky 5th with La Scala, plus Casella and Rossini with the St. Cecilia Orchestra of Rome (1949 - his first sessions).
Nice bonus: Because of a strange contractual loophole, you also get the RCA recording of Franck's D minor Symphony with The NBC Symphony.
The recordings are mono, with the exception of five symphonies recorded in stereo:
Beethoven #5 (minus the 1st movement which was unfinished at the time of Cantelli's death), Beethoven #7, Brahms #3, Franck D Minor, and Schubert #8.
The Franck Symphony was recorded in 1954 - very early in the stereo era. It has exaggerated stereo separation - not realistic concert hall sound, but fun to listen to over headphones. You're really aware of the second violins in the right channel.
The 1951 recording of Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony is not included - Cantelli did not approve it so he re-did it in 1955, the version included here.
[That 1951 recording received its belated premiere in 1999 on the Testament label (SBT 1173)].
Actually the finale of that 1951 recording is included on "Remembering Guido Cantelli", a well-done radio documentary that is CD9 of this box.
It also includes two previously unissued rehearsal snippets from the Beethoven 5th and Ravel's Daphnis & Chloe.
This is a model of what these big boxes should be.
For the curious, Cantelli's complete NBC studio recordings can be had on a 2 CD Testament set (SBT 2194).
His broadcast performances with the NBC Symphony and the New York Philharmonic are available in boxes from Testament and Music & Arts.
The latter is significantly less expensive and sounds pretty good.
* Since writing this, it has been pointed out to me that EMI did not use the avaliable Testament remasterings for the Brahms 3rd or Tchaikovsky 6th /Romeo (or for the NBC Franck). Rather, they used earlier, less desirable EMI transfers. Apparently EMI used about 2/3 of the available Testament remasterings. A mystery. Still 5 stars (maybe 4 1/2), but I feel a bit foolish about my initial enthusiasm.