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  Living Stereo
  Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade - Reiner
  Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Stravinsky: Song of the Nightingale

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 10 show all

Reviews: 11 show all

Review by sgb January 27, 2005 (18 of 20 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This one's a real ear-opener! I doubt there's an audiophile on the planet who hasn't at least heard of this legendary recording, much less owned it in one of its various formats. By my count it was pressed to audiophile vinyl at least four times, and was, at one time, available as a gold CD. This is, far and away, the best of these, in my estimation, and it solidly outperforms RCA's earlier Living Stereo CD by a considerable margin.

The performance itself is one of the three or four best ever put on record, so all of this is to say that if you have not already ordered your copy of the new SA-CD remaster, there's no time like the present. Enthusiastically recommended.

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Review by flyingdutchman February 7, 2005 (14 of 16 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have been waiting for this recording to grace the SACD format since the inception of the Living Stereo recordings and I am in no way disappointed in the recording or the performance. It is a three channel recording and as such we get a wonderfully full and detailed account of one of classical music's warhorses. Some have said that this is one of the few works where you don't need a number of recordings. In that sentiment, I disagree. There are a number of great recordings to be had such as Beecham's, Stokowski's LSO 1964 account, Kondrashin's recording (although not a favorite of mine), and this one. In a recording of Scheherazade, I look for someone who brings out the color of the recording (Stokowski's is probably best at that, but Reiner's is no slouch). Each one has different strengths. In Reiner, we have perhaps one of the best finales ever put to disc. A one-take finale, the trumpets triple tonguing is better than any I have ever heard. The violence and tumult of the waves crashing against the ship can be FELT, let alone heard.

Some have said the recording itself is boxy and limited in sound. I disagree. It is well spread out across the 3 channels and there is no focusing of the middle channel like in many recordings, but a wonderful usage of all three channels. Now, I have had almost all incarnations of this wonderful recordings on cd (from the 1988 RCA red label, to the Living Stereo cd, to the XRCD, and now this). This is by far the best release so far. Do not hesitate--get this one now!

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Review by tream February 21, 2005 (12 of 15 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Scheherazade was one of the works that introduced me to classical music. Others were things like the 1812 Overture and Rhapsody in Blue, back when I was about 14. I had a debate with my German teacher, Herr Nebel, about the merits of Rimsky-Korsakov, who I considered to be a genius and he considered to be a "modern composer". His tastes ran to Bach and Beethoven, and he may have changed my life forever when we first translated, then listed to, the finale of Beethoven's Ninth in class. Interestingly, he was a Klemperer fan, feeling that Beethoven got carried away at the conclusion and that Klemperer kept this in check. Anyway, after hearing Beethoven I no longer held quite the same opinion of Rimsky-Korsakov, and realized that Scheherazade is a nice piece but not a deep one.

I can't claim to be an expert on the recordings of Scheherazade, but what I hear listening to the Reiner is a great recording of top musicians playing extremely well. It really is an impactful recording with great dynamics and clarity. And the playing of the Chicago band is amazing-nothing but virtuosity. However, I have the feeling that Reiner (a conductor whose recordings of Beethoven, Strauss and Bartok I admire) didn't find a lot of music in Scheherazade either and decided to give his record company a sound spectacular. I find this recording to be tense, driven and unyielding-exciting, to be sure, but I feel like another interpretation might have found more in the score than Reiner does. Stokowski, maybe? I'd like to see some of his work on SACD. When I first started collecting recordings Stoky was out of favor-perhaps considered a bit of a charlatan, but listening to his performances on the Great Conductors of the 20th Century series (also realizing that he was still learning new scores at an age when many conductors have retired) opened up my eyes to his many talents, and it would be exciting to see some of his recordings reissued. Stokowski was always highly interested in sound and I'll bet he would have embraced SACD.

Stravinsky's Song of the Nightingale is more than a filler, and I doubt if it will ever be better played than it is on this SACD.

I do recommend this SACD, with reservations. This recording of Scheherazade is a top choice for many listeners, it has really good sound, and incredible playing.

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Works: 2  

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade, Op. 35
Igor Stravinsky - Le chant du rossignol (Song of the Nightingale) for Orchestra (1917)