RESPIGHI: Fountains of Rome; Pines of Rome; DEBUSSY: La Mer – Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner – RCA Red Seal

by | Sep 26, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

RESPIGHI: Fountains of Rome; Pines of Rome; DEBUSSY: La Mer – Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner – RCA Red Seal Living Stereo Multichannel SACD 82876-71614-2, 62:12 *****:

These classic Living Stereo recordings will be familiar to most audio buffs and classical collectors.  The usually-paired Respighi works were recorded in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall in l959 and the Debussy the next year. BMG is to be commended for allowing us to now hear them just about as they were originally recorded, in three channels, and at a more reasonable price than the similar three-channel Golden Age series from Mercury Living Presence.  The size and clarity of the soundstage is considerably expanded with the addition of the third channel, but if you’re only set up for plain old stereo, the DSD processing will still provide a greatly enhanced sound experience over the standard CD reissues.

It’s difficult to add much to the volumes already written about these masterful Reiner recordings. The works are some of the most appealing and spectacular to be found in the orchestral repertory – magnificent tone-painting which depends for its fullest effect on the hi-res reproduction now possible with three-channel SACD playback. The widescreen spectaculars of Respighi may not equal the musical magic of Debussy’s portrait of the sea in three different moods, but there’s no denying the Roman duo makes a strong impression in every way. For my ears the only competition performance-wise are the Toscanini recordings of all three works, but those are in dull and constricted mono recorded in that awful Studio 8H in Radio City, and no match for the clarity and spatiality of these Reiner recordings.

If you don’t already own any of this Living Stereo SACD series, you’ll find the notes inside on the History of Living Stereo and the Technical Notes of great interest. And if you pick up this one you’ll likely want to have many others of the growing series of similar reissues.

 – John Sunier

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