15 January, 2013

RCA Living Stereo: Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben (1954)

RCA Living Stereo: Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben (1954)
Fritz Reinar & Chicago S O
classical | 1cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 450MB
RCA | SACD | rel.: 2004
Ein Heldenleben can occasionally sound like 30 minutes of real music with a 15-minute violin concerto placed in its middle; it requires an interpreter with grip and a long view of the score to hold the piece together. Fritz Reiner was just that, and his 1954 account of Heldenleben is still on the top of the pile. It is a formidable reading--huge, massive, yet with an Old World expressiveness in the strings and gloriously transparent textures. Reiner's interpretation of Zarathustra, recorded at the same time, is equally impressive. Stunning is the only word to describe the remastering job RCA has done with the original recordings: the richness of sound is staggering for documents now more than 40 years old. --Ted Libbey
This recording was the hi-fi demo disc of the 1950s. On CD, it still sounds pretty incredible; an achievement as remarkable technically as it is musically. And what playing! Fritz Reiner sadistically enjoyed driving his players to despair. There's a famous story about principal trumpeter Adolph (Bud) Herseth, who played his tricky little fanfare at the beginning of the second half of Zarathustra so perfectly so many times that even Reiner finally gave up. Most critics and Strauss lovers consider Reiner's performance of A Hero's Life to be the best ever committed to disc, and I'd be the last one to disagree. This is one of those recordings where everything just went right. --David Hurwitz
RCA Victor's 1954-vintage stereophony has scarcely aged, all to the better of these ageless performances, heard in their finest transfers yet. Fritz Reiner's Ein Heldenleben fuses drama, poetry, scrupulous balances, bracing rhythm, and purposeful detail into a cogent whole. Much the same holds true for Reiner's Zarathusatra from the same year. Yes, the organ is foully out-of-tune, and a few exposed tympani notes are similarly suspect. Some may prefer Reiner's less flashy, more internalized 1960 Zarathustra remake, although it doesn't quite make the sonic impact of its hallowed predecessor. May this disc never be deleted. --Jed Distler

Also Sprach Zarathustra Op. 30
-01. Introduction
-02. Of The Inhabitans Of The Unseen World
-03. Of The Great Longing
-04. Of Joys And Passions
-05. Dirge
-06. Of Sience
-07. The Convalescent
-08. Dance Song And Night Song
-09. Night Wanderer's Song
Ein Heldenleben Op. 40
-10. The Hero
-11. The Hero's Adversaries
-12. The Hero's Companion
-13. The Hero's Battlefield
-14. The Hero's Works Of Peace
-15. The Hero's Retreat From The World And Fulfillment



durmoll said...

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