Could please make me clear what changes had Arturo Toscanini made to Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony? I have
his performance with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Total timing is about 48.33.
I only know that Toscanini made some serious cuts mainly in the last movement
and that there are some changes with the orchestration. I would be very happy
to know what exactly has the Maestro changed?
Marcel in Slovakia
I understand that Toscanini cut around five minutes of music from the symphony's
finale, which consists of a striking slow section and fugue in the first half
of the movement. There were also small changes to the orchestration throughout,
e.g. a trumpet playing instead of the clarinet
Other conductors sometimes follow his example, or make further cuts. I
have even heard concerts where the first movement's finale has been added
to the end of the finale, to give an "unhappy ending" !
If you have a fast internet connection then you can listen to a complete
performance of Manfred—as Tchaikovsky intended it to be played—on the BBC's web-site at:
Manfred has in the past
often been performed with cuts, the tendency to mutilate the finale has even
spread to the perfectly concise middle movements in some performances. The
practice of repeating the end of the first movement at the end of the finale
is, happily, as with the other alterations, dying out. The original ending
is perhaps the most moving and transfiguring culmination to any Tchaikovsky
symphony, and the sudden appearance of the organ can be overwhelming—in
a decent performance. In anything other than a inspired rendition, this visionary
passage can fall flat, which is why some conductors, I suspect, just avoid
it compeletly, a bad mistake. I would recommend Vladimir Jurowski with the
London Philharmonic, recorded live (2006).