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Arturo Toscanini

Grammofono

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Sure, the high end is muffled, the timpani are in your lap, and entire choruses disappear off-mike, but this new transfer of Arturo Toscanini’s The Magic Flute makes something listenable of one of history’s more intractable recordings. Toscanini’s conducting emerges not as a high-speed chase through Mozart’s score, but as a lovingly sculpted human drama, joyful and electrifying by turns. And with the exception of Julie Osvath’s wince-making “O Zittre Nicht,” the pre-Anschluss Salzburg Festival cast is truly glorious.