This well-filled disc (76:50) gathers historical recordings made for Columbia by Stokowski with the New York Philharmonic (then called the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York) between 1947 and 1949. They all make their first appearance on CD. Other than Wagner's Flying Dutchman-Overture and perhaps Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini (Stokowski's first of three recordings, the two others being for Everest in 1958, Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini; Hamlet / Scriabin: Poem of Ecstasy ~ Stokowski, and for Philips in 1974, first CD reissue on Conducts Tchaikovsky, now on a twofer from the indispensable Australian Eloquence, Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite / Serenade for Strings / Francesca da Rimini / Capriccio Italien), they are not standard repertoire (the Walküre music is Stokowski's arrangement). The two rarities are Griffes' languid and early Debussy-reminiscent "White Peacock" - the orchestration of a piano piece from 1915 and Stokowski's only recording of a composition which he had premiered back in 1919 - and Messiaen's L'Ascension - the conductor made a famous stereo remake in 1970 with the Hilversum Philharmonic Orchestra in Decca's vivid "Phase Four" stereo (Franck: Symphony in D minor, Op.48 / Messiaen: L'Ascension / Ravel / Chopin / Duparc), and the remake is better, if only for its great sonics, indispensable with such an atmospheric and coloristic composer as Messiaen, but championing and recording Messiaen in 1947 was amazingly prescient. The Messiaen is also the most original-sounding composition on the disc. The sound is mono and somewhat unidimensional, but the transfers (made by the Sony Music Studios in New York) are great, with almost no surface noise. This release is of course indispensable for the Stokowski admirer.
There are two companion dics to this one: Volume 2 has more Wagner, Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite, Sibelius' Maiden with the Roses, Schoenberg's Song of the Wood-Dove from Gurre-Lieder, Tchaikovsky's Waltz from the Serenade for Strings and excerpts from Copland's Billy the Kid - material not as substantial as on this volume 1, in my opinion (Leopold Stokowski: The New York Philharmonic Columbia (US) Recordings, Volume 2), but volume 3 has Stokowski's only recording of a Mozart Symphony (the 35th) and of Vaughan Williams' 6th Symphony (in its original version) as well as Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet and a rarity, Thomas Scott's "From the Sacred Harp" (Leopold Stokowski: The New York Philharmonic Columbia (US) Recordings, Volume 3).