Stokowski - magician or charlatan?
Two low-priced multi-CD reissues of Leopold Stokowski conducting from Sony and RCA have provided food for thought. Much has been made of Stokowski's wayward and willful interpretations; however gems from his Indian summer such as a magical Brahms Second Symphony recorded four months before his death in 1977 paint a very different picture. Stokowski is judged harshly for his sometimes wayward interpretations, but is given little credit for his ability to reach new audiences. Which is puzzling given classical music's current obsession with reaching new audiences. Today we demand that a conductor adheres slavishly to the score of a symphony. But there is no problem when that scrupulous interpretation is subject to furtive texting, grazing while the band plays on, dribbles of inter-movement applause, and much else in the name of attracting a new audience. For me audience anarchy versus wayward Stokowski is no contest.
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