Interesting, because over the past few years I’ve consulted Toscanini recordings of repertoire I’ve been doing only to find his interpretations frequently bewildering and puzzling. His performance of Strauss’s Töd und Verklärung, for instance, is wildly, willfully off the mark compared to what Strauss’s meticulous score asks for.
One gets the feeling that Toscanini, famous for never using a score, eventually stopped consulting one, ending up with interpretations that could be bizarrely disconnected. The legend, of course, was that Toscanini restored “the composer’s intent” to the interpretive art. But his recordings don’t always bear that out.Stokowski, however, was something else. There is no one in the world of classical music today who can even approach him for his shocking blend of chutzpah, self-promotion, or interpretive delinquency.