Toscanini/NBC SO: Brahms Symphony No. 4 - La Voix de son Maitre FALP 204 - rare
Jacket VG / LP EX
This beautiful and rare LP from La Voix de son Maitre (FALP 204, French pressing, red/silver label, mono) features Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra’s commanding account of Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98, recorded in the spacious acoustics of Carnegie Hall, New York, on 3 December 1951, a landmark in the Brahms discography.
Of RCA’s Gold Seal CD re-issue of this performance, the eminent critic Alan Sanders wrote in his review for the May 1990 issue of The Gramophone:
“An examination of Toscanini's concert repertoire reveals a bias in favour of late nineteenth century music. This is not surprising, since he grew up in the era of Verdi, Wagner and Brahms. His early career was spent mainly in the opera house, but from the first his concerts included music by Brahms, a composer always close to his heart. Toscanini served Brahms faithfully until the end of his career, always bringing a clear, singing, Italianate quality to his music which usually somehow seemed just right, and not at odds with the composer's Teutonic soul….
“I have left consideration of Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 and 4 till last. Each of these readings sets a standard of performance and interpretation which has seldom been equalled on record. A sense of great urgency and high drama informs the opening of the First Symphony, and in the main Allegro section Toscanini conducts with tremendous expressive force and conviction, a superlative sense of line and a masterly use of rubato. The music comes to life in an extraordinarily vibrant, totally compelling fashion, yet it is still a balanced, objective reading. In the Andante Toscanini inspires the most exquisitely lyrical playing and conveys a rare feeling of atmosphere and refined, tender emotion. The third movement is highly expressive too, typically clear and clean in execution, and in the finale Toscanini's power and eloquence lead one on inexorably to a majestically expressed, overwhelming coda.”
Incidentally, the striking cover art was executed by Jacques Combet, while the superb liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket, in French only, were written by L. Maxence.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD. There is edgewear, more so at corners, as well as light creasing, aging, and mild discoloration. However, there are no bends, seamsplits, owners’ markings, or other defects, and the album remains solid, bright, and highly attractive – overall, a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. Although the surfaces are not perfectly silent, really this is a fine copy and playback is superb, close to NM. If you must have a flawless or NM copy, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, rates as an excellent collector's copy.