SAINT-SAENS: Symphony No. 3 “Organ”; Intro and Rondo capriccioso in a; La muse et le poete for violin, cello & orch. – Jan Kraybill, pipe organ/Kansas City Sym./ Michael Stern – Reference Recordings (45 rpm vinyl)

A fine performance and a first on 45 rpm vinyl.

SAINT-SAENS: Symphony No. 3 “Organ”; Intro and Rondo capriccioso in a; La muse et le poete for violin, cello & orch. – Jan Kraybill, pipe organ/Kansas City Sym./ Michael Stern – Reference Recordings stereo 45 rpm vinyl RM-1514, 35:27 (3/15/16) ****:

The Kansas City Symphony is the only full-time professional symphony in the region, and has made other acclaimed recordings for Reference Recordings. This session, which gets a full and rich romantic sound out of the musicians, was recorded using the HDCD encoding invented by Keith O. Johnson, the recording engineer, and mastered onto this 180 gram half-speed-mastered 45 rpm vinyl, with its wider grooves and faster speed enhancing the sonics almost as much as direct disk recording, which almost nobody is doing anymore. The first two movements are on Side A and the third and fourth movements on Side B. The acoustically superior Helzberg Hall of 2011 is a factor in the success of this recording. Conductor Stern is in his second decade with the orchestra and has been hailed for his remarkable artistic ascent, inventive programming, organizational development and stability, and extraordinary growth of its varied symphony audiences. (The CD version came out last June.)

It’s amazing that this work has always been known as the Organ Symphony when the pipe organ really isn’t heard until the last few minutes of the work. It has been recorded binaurally and in surround sound on SACD, but this is its first on 45 rpm vinyl. The large orchestra supports not only the pipe organ but also a piano part which is performed both as piano four hands and solo during the work. There is a “motto theme” which Saint-Seans himself described as “extremely peaceful and contemplative.” 


One reviewer said this performance “blows everyone else out of the water.” And the only way to truly enjoy this vinyl is to play it loud. I was a bit disappointed by hearing several loud pops during the playback, which I have not heard from any other new vinyl masterings recently. Especially annoying when wearing headphones.

—John Sunier

on this article to AUDIOPHILE AUDITION!

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