& Bess); Rhapsody in Blue; Cuban Overture; Promenade – St. Louis
Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin cond./Jeffrey Siegel, piano –
Vox/Mobile Fidelity Multichannel SACD, MFSL UDSACD 4007 ****:
This is about half of the highly-regarded Gershwin set recorded in St.
Louis back in l975 by the team of Abort & Nickrenz. The
entire set was issued on two 96K DAAD discs by Classic Records some
years ago – among the best of that format ever issued, and the
comparable selections sound very similar except for the feeling of the
concert hall added in Mo-Fi’s excellent multichannel version. When a
major climax is followed by silence, the two-channel version has the
hall reverb die oujt quickly and all in front, whereas on the
multichannel it is all around you and even a subtle vertical dimension.
(The DAAD set also included Gershwin’s exciting Piano Concerto in F,
the Second Rhapsody, and the Variations on I Got Rhythm.) The originals
were recorded in four channel and were issued on Vox QS quadraphonic
LPs. Mo-Fi has preserved the 4.0 channel setup as they did in
their earlier reissues of Vox and Turnabout quad tapes.
The Catfish Row suite is an interesting instrumental version of music
from Gershwin’s unique opera Porgy and Bess. Some of the music is less
well known; in fact the big hits such as Summertime are not even here.
There are solos for piano and banjo. While the soundstage is primarily
frontal, the warning bell for the coming hurricane on Kittiwah Island
is heard very loudly on the surrounds. The Cuban Overture is just
as wildly energetic a version as that of the Boston Pops on RCA, but
with the added catnip of gangbuster Cuban percussion coming loudly out
of the surround channels. These guys are drumming up a storm, warning
bell or not.
– John Sunier