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The Reiner Sound / Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony

Release Date: 03/09/1993 
Label:  Rca Victor Living Stereo Catalog #: 61250   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Maurice RavelFranz LisztSergei RachmaninovCarl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Byron Janis
Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc is surely a cornerstone in any collection of finest moments in recorded music.

Having been fortunate enough to have been a season subscriber to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when Fritz Reiner was at the helm, I agree with those who look back on this period as a Golden Age. Compared with many of his contemporaries, Reiner did not make anywhere near as many recordings as several of them did, but almost every one of the Reiner/Chicago performances is justifiably a "collector's item." The singular merit of this compilation is that it assembles some of his best performances while offering a wide variety of moods, styles, ethnic and compositional diversity. The taut rhythmic control and diaphanous
Read more transparency of Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole and Pavane are augmented by dramatic excitement, vivid timbres, and the dynamic intensity invariably associated with a Reiner performance. Nor have these selections, or the others on this disc, ever sounded better in any previous incarnation, brilliant, warm, with astonishing instrumental and ensemble clarity. Tape hiss is subliminal when evident at all.

The Chicago Symphony in the Reiner era was a balanced orchestra with no choir given undue emphasis as happened with the brass and percussion during the Solti years. The strings have a silken sheen in these recordings and the woodwind solos are characterful and expressive. The Totentanz— for some reason not previously available on compact disc—is electrifying, ugly where it should be, at times lyrical and introspective, at others demonic, with soloist and orchestra in total harmony. Three of Byron Janis's finest recordings were made with Reiner—the Rachmaninov First, Strauss's Burlesque, and the Liszt.

Reiner's was a controlled lyricism. It is so appealing precisely because it is never self-indulgent or wayward. Berlioz's orchestration of Weber's Invitation to the Dance is a consummate illustration of this.

Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead has had its illustrious recordings—that with the composer and the Philadelphia Orchestra (available only in a boxed set), Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony (currently unavailable), and Reiner's 1957 recording. The Reiner performance has all the vitality of the composer's and all the dark, tempestuous sensuality of Koussevitzky's with a rhythmic pulse and emphasis on contrapuntal melodic lines that illumines the emotional complexity of this generally underrated score.

This disc is surely a cornerstone in any collection of finest moments in recorded music.

-- Jon Tuska, Fanfare
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Works on This Recording

Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1908; France 
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Totentanz, S 126 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Byron Janis (Piano)
Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849/1859; Weimar, Germany 
Isle of the Dead, Op. 29 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1957 
Invitation to the Dance, in D flat major J 260/Op. 65 by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Dresden, Germany 

Featured Sound Samples

Rapsodie Espagnole (Ravel): IV. Feria
Pavane pour une infante défunte (Ravel)
Invitation to the Dance (Weber)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Everything comes together March 11, 2014 By Christopher D. (Kokomo, IN) See All My Reviews "The orchestra literally never sounded better - the strings are glorious, the brass unsurpassed, the woodwinds plangent but perfectly tuned. And Reiner's tempi, mood, the whole feeling is right. Reiner is known as a disciplinarian, but he was also a colorist, even an Impressionist sometimes; he just didn't waste time. The engineers get the 5 stars too for the glorious sound here - the sound is full, rich, present. (A tad of overload at one place in Isle of the Dead, otherwise it could hardly be bettered, even today.) And at the price? Get it while you can!" Report Abuse
  Reiner Doet It Again!! September 1, 2012 By Richard Buckley (Oakmont, PA) See All My Reviews "I will immediately admit to being a rabid Fritz Reiner fan. I have enjoyed his music making since I was knee high to a grasshopper. This disc in RCA Living Stereo is just another reason why. His interpretation of the Isle of the Dead is to die for! His Rapsodie Espanole is rhapsodic! In between a dazzling Totentanz (Dance of Death) and Isle of the Dead, he throws in a sparkling Invitation to the Dance just to prove that he handles light and happy moments as well if not better than the dreadful ones. Not only are the selections on this disc spectacular, but each is presented in the professional and pleasing way that Reiner above all 20th century conducting geniuses was able to accomplish.

Just a word about the sound. RCA has once again weaved its magic in presenting these 50's recordings to the demanding and critical 21st century listeners. I am constantly amazed when I hear these Living Stereo discs by the attention to detail and flawless presentations that they offer.

A super buy at any price, and even more especially so at this modest cost! You will be very glad you purchased this Reiner offering. It is not only a great introduction to the marvelous conductor, but a wonderful addition to any collection."
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 A Fantastic Orchestral Sound! January 24, 2012 By William W. See All My Reviews "I believe The Reiner Sound will be one of these discs I will take to the island! If I had to box only Classical recordings to take with me, this one will surely be on top! The sound of the Chicago Symphony under Reiner's baton has never ben bettered. The opening work, Ravel's Rhapsodie Espagnol is just so full of imagery that it could only be topped by Reiner's version of Alborada Del Gracioso also by Ravel. The production work of Louie Layton and Richard Mohr simply cannot be topped at least in this instance. They truly knew how to bring out the best in this orchestra and did so time and time again. I have heard this album in almost every version possible. I find that I like the JVC XRCD version for CD very much, but find the RCA/Classic reissue on LP to be the big audio nirvana of my Chicago Symphony collection. How this title missed the Mobile Fidelity reissue lineup I'll never know, but if the CD is any indication, it certainly deserves to be kept in stock for a long time. The Reiner Sound certainly was the apt title for this record. And while Lenny B. was a student of Dr. Reiner at Curtis, his versions on CBS don't top his teacher. This is a gold standard CD worthy of being kept around for as long as possible and then brought to iTunes to go even longer!" Report Abuse
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