4-15-10 Classical Music
I have never had a big interest in traditional “classical music”. I probably heard the “1812 Overture” as a youngster, and was amused by the cannons being fired. I remember trying an early CD of “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff – and pronouncing the sound to be “too flat”. That pretty much ended my interest in classical music on the CD format. I did, however, avidly follow some 20th century “classical music” – artists like Philip Glass and Steve Reich – on the CD format.
Well, lately one of my ‘failed’ formats has lead me towards “classical music”: SACD. Lately I have been able to find new / sealed classical CD’s in the SACD format for under $10! They are all traditional – and originally analogue recordings. From the “RCA Red Seal Living Stereo” series, I have purchased:
BERLIOZ – HAROLD IN
MAHLER – SONG OF THE EARTH, THE
RAVEL – DAPHNIS ET CHLOE
STRAUSS – ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA
BARTOK – CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA
MUSSORGSKY / V.A. – PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION
CHOPIN – BALLADES & SCHERZOS
GOULD, MORTON – BRASS AND PERCUSSION
DVORAK – SYMPHONY No. 9 IN E MINOR, Op. 95
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV / STRAVINSKY – SCHEHERAZADE
BRAHMS / TCHAIKOVSKY – VIOLIN CONCERTOS
COPLAND / GROFE – BILLY THE KID;
BEETHOVEN – PIANO SONATAS
FOX, VIRGIL – ENCORES
These are mainly 50’s recordings, made for stereo LP’s of the late 50’s. The SACD multi-channel function is a matter of indifference to me, as I am not set to listen to multi-channel sound – the discs clearly warn 5.1 enthusiasts that “These are originally 3 track recordings – no sound will come from the rear channels!”.
I never heard of Fritz Reiner before getting these discs. Seems he could really get extraordinary performances out of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the Living Stereo / Red Seal producers at RCA Records. The several Fritz Reiner-conducted titles I have found all came highly recommended from the SACD website (Bartok, Mahler, Ravel etc.)
And I certainly remember seeing LP’s by Virgil Fox, but I definitely never heard anything by him before this SACD. He’s an organ player of a fairly elevated caliber. Apparently, he was also a raving queen, which seemed to annoy some critics. Some of his performances describe him having ‘antics’ he got up to. Perhaps he wore a dress?
So, I guess I have become an RCA Red Seal snob now. These ancient recordings have a uniformly pretty good sound to them, as far as I am concerned. Everything’s very clear – just super recordings.
I was a bit surprised to see the Morton Gould title classified with the Fritz Reiner titles. Yes, Mr. Gould is approaching classical repertoire, but it reeks of the gimmicky stereo of late 50’s easy listening fare. At very least, it’s recorded really nicely. And all of these SACD’s are hybrid discs, which will play on a regular CD player, too!