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American Record Guide, September 2008

These are among the last souvenirs of the great and classic Philadelphia Orchestra. Most of the legendary musicians are playing, and Ormandy is near the end of his long tenure there. I enjoyed these because I was a subscriber in the 60s and early 70s, and it felt like coming home. …I have no complaints. Every department in this orchestra was still superb in 1977. Ormandy—one of the great conductors—looks alert but serious, as he usually did. Sometimes he seems delighted by a passage or a solo, and you see a little twinkle in his eye. Perhaps he was a little less intense than in his prime, but the results here are still wonderful. …The Handel is an early version of the Royal Fireworks Overture, and it sounds wonderful in the majestic Ormandy treatment. The other tempos are all on the fast side compared to what we hear today. Ormandy was always moderate and, above all, musical. Nothing was ever rigid; everything breathed naturally but moved right along. …The Rosenkavalier Suite is quite a thrilling performance, with all the Ormandy and Philadelphia hallmarks. But it is true that there were better places to record than the Academy of Music, and some of the orchestra's recordings sound better than some of these. But it is also true that Ormandy was better in person than on recordings, and these are actual concerts. In some pieces the strings are positively grainy and lack the warmth you can hear in studio recordings. (That was always true in some seats in the Academy.) But that seems less the case in Rosenkavalier. Note also that the brass are still wonderful here; they would not be in a few years. And it's not just Mason Jones who retired in the next few years after these recordings; it was almost every one of the great legends-Panitz, Gigliotti, and Garfield among the winds (three of the four soloists). Even Gerry Carlyss left (timpani). There was a whole new cast of characters. This is an old orchestra—you can see that—and Ormandy is an old conductor (near 80). They are reliving their glory days, but in a few years they will be gone, and the orchestra in Philadelphia will sound pretty much the way any other orchestra does.

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7:24:18 AM, 14 October 2015
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