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  Living Stereo
  Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben - Reiner
  Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben

John Weicher (violin)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 9 show all

Reviews: 3

Review by Ivymike August 2, 2005 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
One of the very toughest Shaded Dogs to locate...just watch the action that surrounds one that appears on ebay for auction!

We're lucky as audio geeks to have these recordings, the earliest remaining full-length two track, 30ips tape recordings made by RCA in the first week of March, 1954. Two Neumann M50 omni mics were place on either side of Reiner's podium and their amplified outputs fed directly to RT-21 tape recorders. The simple mic set up gives a glorious sense of reverberation in Chicago's Orchestra Hall; the sound is beautifully reverberant. The first and second violins are placed left and right (with double basses hard left) and close to the mics; consequently they sound a bit fierce when playing f and above. Tape hiss is moderate in level but it's easy to overlook such a steady background noise. The only negative I can come up with is the tendency for the "hole-in-the-middle" effect to rear its head. That simple two mic set up provides a glorious sense of the hall but the woodwinds, horns, and violas have a weaker central image than the instruments hard left and right. The effect is not as noticeable on this SACD as it was on the 1993 reissue.

For what it is worth I find that the sound of "Ein Heldenleben" is a bit smoother than that on "Zarathustra".

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Review by thepilot October 25, 2004 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The performances are hard to fault and here there can be heard in the best possible light. But there are annoying dropouts in the last tracks of Zarathustra and in Hero's Life. It appears that the master tape was not perfectly preserved and this disc is recommended only to Reiner and Living Stereo fans. If you cherish you old Living Stereo CD reissues you should buy this SACD. If you only want to sample the Living Stereo sound in all its glory you should buy the Ravel and Bartok, and avoid Pictures at an Exhibition and Strauss.
However, on listening to the album on a second Philips 963SA everything seems just fine, and it is really curious why the first player mistracked on this disc. Now there is now reason to not give this fabulous SACD the 5 stars it deserves in terms of sound quality.

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Review by Chris December 4, 2004 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Here comes another,simply stunning, vintage recording.Like the Mercury Firebird this is definitely a Desert Island Disc.Not only does it once and for all, prove that all you need to record a big symphony orchestra realistically, is a good analogue tape recorder and TWO microphones. NO more!!!But it also proves without the shadow of a doubt, that it could be done,with excellent results, already in 1954!!!
What joy it is to be able to hear what is, quite probably, more or less a clone of the original mastertapes.I find the interpretations from Reiner and his Chicago Symphony of both works almost faultless.This is music-making on the very highest level!And the recording quality of the Heldenleben in particular, has no equal in my collection.
I also have, an LP copy of the same performance,of Also sprach Zarathustra,but this Living Stereo SACD is clearly better than that LP. Maybe a 45 rpm recut straight from the master tape beats this SACD.But it is certainly good enough to make it compulsory listening for anyone interested in the art of recording IMO.
Ok, there is some tape hiss, but you soon forget about it, and there are a couple of times where the strings sound a bit edgy, especially in Zarathustra. On the other hand, the projected soundstage is HUGE and very realistic and most of the time all instruments of the orchestra not only sound very realistic,and tonally very true to life,but above all they are reproduced in an ambience that is completely believable!!!
And in that, TO ME VERY IMPORTANT RESPECT, this and all the other releases in this series and the Mercuries,clearly beat ALL the modern competion,I have heard.
No modern ,multimiked recording,and sadly almost all are these days,projects a soundstage so HUGE and DEEP and utterly realistic as do these old ,simply miked, analogue recordings!!!
To make just one comparison, try playing the multimiked Decca Mahler third or ninth after THIS Heldenleben and it should be pretty obvious what I'm talking about.
Impressive as they also undoubtedly are in many respects,they sound curiously small and incoherent in comparison.

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Works: 2  

Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra, TrV 176 Op. 30
Richard Strauss - Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), TrV 190 Op. 40