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Vienna - Reiner

Vienna - Reiner

Living Stereo  82876716152

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Johann Strauss Jr., Josef Strauss, Richard Strauss, von Weber

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner (conductor)

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Review by Graham Williams - May 12, 2006

In late 1985 RCA issued a CD of Fritz Reiner and the Chicago SO playing the music of members of the Strauss family (Johann II and Josef). When it was later re-issued in the Living Stereo series as ‘Vienna’ two of the best performances, ‘Künstlerleben’ and ‘Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’und Lust’ had been replaced by Weber’s Invitation to the Dance and a waltz pot-pourri from Der Rosenkavalier by the Bavarian Strauss.

The latter is in an unsatisfactory piecemeal arrangement by Reiner that sounds cobbled together. After two brief jarring sections from the Prelude we hear the Ochs waltz from Act 2 then go back to the breakfast scene music in Act 1 and finally some of the Act 3 waltzes all dispatched in 8m 41s!

The Weber, however, is performed with much charm and affection in the slow opening section (lovely cello solo) and great élan later on.

The Viennese Strauss family items are affectionately played and not, as might have been expected, too hard driven. They do, however, lack some of the subtle rubato, lilt, and inflections of say the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under a natural (J) Strauss conductor. It is almost as if Reiner was trying to recall the readings he heard in his youth in the final days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but in spite of wonderful playing from the Chicago SO, failing quite to recreate them.

Nevertheless, these are consistently enjoyable performances captured with amazing fidelity on SACD in the 3-channel sound, and a huge improvement on the RBCD.

The best items are a relaxed Village Swallows and Thunder and Lightning, in which the bass drum thwacks really bring to life the acoustic of symphony hall Chicago in 1960.

If this collection appeals then you will not be disappointed.

Recommended with reservations.

Copyright © 2006 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Multichannel):

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Comment by threerandot - July 7, 2016 (1 of 2)

Review by threerandot June 25, 2007 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance: 3 1/2
Sonics: 4

Fritz Reiner displays Viennese Charm and style with this collection of enjoyable favorites featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, there are a few bumps here and there.

This disc gets off to the right start with a light-hearted rendering of "Morning Papers", followed by an equally persuasive Emperor Waltz and a rousing "On The Beautiful Blue Danube". These three are surprisingly warm sounding and must have been demonstration class in their day. Reiner catches the subtlety of these favorites. There is plenty of depth in the sound, with the snare drum well placed behind the orchestra and the cello solos are ravashing, given this vintage. Horns and winds are equally impressive, although the flute at the end of The Blue Danube seems to be too far back in the mix for my liking. Strings are caught very naturally without harshness. Very impressive.

"Invitation to The Dance" by Weber displays Reiner's attention to detail with precise and vituosic playing from flutes, strings and horns. "Village Swallows" will put a smile on your face with its easy going nature. There is a kind of whistle played in this one that makes my pet budgie chirp back. There is excellent wind playing in this one, as well as some nice bass effects. The Waltzes from "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss is probably the weakest point in this collection as it appears to be a simple medley of tunes from that famous opera. Most of it seems to go well but the last couple of minutes mar this performance with some pretty trashy playing.

The disc closes with four works by Johann Strauss, Jr., beginning with a fine reading of "Vienna Blood", which I think could have benefited with the smare drum placed further away from the microphone. A solid performance. Next, its the "Roses From The South" with a reading that could have had a little more sparkle and the ending could have benefited with a little more finesse. "Treaure Waltz" also seems to lack enough sparkle with the snare drum again placed too close. The disc ends with one of the highlights, the "Thunder and Lightning". Where the close placement of percussion seemed to hurt a few of the items on this disc, it seems to helpe here, emphasising the "Thunder and Lightning" effect for this polka. Reiner and the Chicago players pull out all of the stops and dive in head first. A fun way to end this disc.

Cosidering that these recordings are from 1957 and 1960, the sound is gorgeous. There is warmth, clarity and more depth than in many of these Living Stereo recordings. At least of the ones I have in this series.

I thought that I might have been able to give this disc a higher rating, but it seems to me that Reiner may not have had the right stuff to sustain an entire disc of waltzes. Playing this disc by skipping the Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier could make this program more enjoyable. Still, there is plenty of nice playing on this disc.

For those who are familiar with these recordings and have always enjoyed them, then this is an easy recommendation. Others may want to stay away. Recommended with reservations.

(This review refers to the Multi-Channel portion of this disc.)

Comment by threerandot - July 7, 2016 (2 of 2)

Review by threerandot June 25, 2007 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance: 3 1/2
Sonics: 4

Fritz Reiner displays Viennese Charm and style with this collection of enjoyable favorites featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, there are a few bumps here and there.

This disc gets off to the right start with a light-hearted rendering of "Morning Papers", followed by an equally persuasive Emperor Waltz and a rousing "On The Beautiful Blue Danube". These three are surprisingly warm sounding and must have been demonstration class in their day. Reiner catches the subtlety of these favorites. There is plenty of depth in the sound, with the snare drum well placed behind the orchestra and the cello solos are ravashing, given this vintage. Horns and winds are equally impressive, although the flute at the end of The Blue Danube seems to be too far back in the mix for my liking. Strings are caught very naturally without harshness. Very impressive.

"Invitation to The Dance" by Weber displays Reiner's attention to detail with precise and vituosic playing from flutes, strings and horns. "Village Swallows" will put a smile on your face with its easy going nature. There is a kind of whistle played in this one that makes my pet budgie chirp back. There is excellent wind playing in this one, as well as some nice bass effects. The Waltzes from "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss is probably the weakest point in this collection as it appears to be a simple medley of tunes from that famous opera. Most of it seems to go well but the last couple of minutes mar this performance with some pretty trashy playing.

The disc closes with four works by Johann Strauss, Jr., beginning with a fine reading of "Vienna Blood", which I think could have benefited with the smare drum placed further away from the microphone. A solid performance. Next, its the "Roses From The South" with a reading that could have had a little more sparkle and the ending could have benefited with a little more finesse. "Treaure Waltz" also seems to lack enough sparkle with the snare drum again placed too close. The disc ends with one of the highlights, the "Thunder and Lightning". Where the close placement of percussion seemed to hurt a few of the items on this disc, it seems to helpe here, emphasising the "Thunder and Lightning" effect for this polka. Reiner and the Chicago players pull out all of the stops and dive in head first. A fun way to end this disc.

Cosidering that these recordings are from 1957 and 1960, the sound is gorgeous. There is warmth, clarity and more depth than in many of these Living Stereo recordings. At least of the ones I have in this series.

I thought that I might have been able to give this disc a higher rating, but it seems to me that Reiner may not have had the right stuff to sustain an entire disc of waltzes. Playing this disc by skipping the Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier could make this program more enjoyable. Still, there is plenty of nice playing on this disc.

For those who are familiar with these recordings and have always enjoyed them, then this is an easy recommendation. Others may want to stay away. Recommended with reservations.

(This review refers to the Multi-Channel portion of this disc.)