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Reviews: Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra etc. - Reiner

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Reviews: 10

Review by stvnharr October 20, 2004 (13 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Wonderful recording and sound. It sounds like it was just done yesterday! If you only have one copy of the Concerto for Orchestra, this is the one. There is also the new, and very fine, Hungaroton release by Zoltan Kocsis. But the Reiner disc just exudes the word, classic.
This disc and the Ravel have the best sound of the 6 Living Stereos that I have.

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Review by thepilot November 20, 2004 (10 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is the only "Concerto for Orchestra" you'll ever need. Performance and sound is fabulous, and the SACD reissue sounds like it was made yesterday. WOW is the only word that describes the way Reiner conducts Bartok and the way RCA engineers recorded the Chicago SO!

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Review by avraham December 25, 2004 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I agree with both of the two previous reviews that this is a “must have” recording. It is amazing that recordings made 40 to 50 years ago sound this great. This recording and several other “Living Stereo” and Mercury Living Presence recordings have finally persuaded me to go to at least three channel. Three channel, as they were originally recorded, improves the sound stage.
I purchased my first eight “Living Stereo” recordings before I purchased my first Mercury “Living Presence” recordings and I have to say I believe the Mercury's have the sonic edge. I have read that more effort was put into the transfer from magnetic tape to DSD with the Mercury recordings and it shows.
On January 8, 2005 I have changed my sonics rating to reflect my concern that the majority of all ratings are too high. Although this is a great recording the sonics are not at the same level as most SACDs recorded direct to DSD.

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Review by mukkachukka January 27, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Got a great deal on this one. Only $5.99 (shipping included) at This is only the 7th classical SACD I have purchased or heard and it is a winner! VERY warm sound! The only other classical releases I have bought have been on Telarc and Naxos. While I still prefer the bright, crisp, room-shaking sonics of the Telarc SACDs, this Living Stereo disc just has an altogether different feel than DSD recorded SACDs. It's amazing the thought and care the original recording engineers put into these recordings. While I don't agree with some people who say that it sounds like it was recorded yesterday (if it did, it wouldn't sound this warm), it still sounds fantastic for a recording that is 50 years old. This is a multi-channel recording but don't think that it's 5.1. The music is 3.0 and will be coming out of your front left, front center, and front right speakers. Apparently, this is the original vision of the producers/engineers. That being said, damn if I didn't walk back to my surround speakers and make sure sound wasn't coming from them because this SACD truly gives a 3-dimensional sound picture. The performance goes without saying. 5 stars all the way. Reiner was probably the world's greatest interpreter of Bartok's music and it shows on this SACD. What else can I say? The Living Stereo series has to be the best SACD bargain out there, and this recording has influenced me into picking up other titles in the series.

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Review by Ivymike July 29, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Here's one of those Shaded Dogs that's nearly impossible to locate on LP. Thank goodness for digital in the case of such rare vinyl.

The performance is, of course, legendary. Does one choose this recording or Dorati's 1962 Mercury?Why, both of course! That 35 mm transfer is no doubt coming from Mercury in the near future.

The sound of this SACD is superior to RCA's own CD transfer from 1993. That transfer was noisier, with more tape hiss and lots of bias thumps and assorted weird low frequency artifacts. Print through was noticeable in movement three and still is. The noise problem seems mostly corrected; tape hiss is audible but it's not distracting. The soundstage is very wide and deep and a bit "billowy", with a very slight hole-in-the-middle effect that is not, thankfully, as pronounced as on the Strauss disc. The imaging on the SACD is superior to the 1993 CD, on which the image tended to bunch up around the speaker locations, and is similar to that of the JVC XRCD. In fact, the JVC disc and this DSD transfer are very similar in terms of overall quality. The JVC disc is transferred at a higher overall level and seems a bit "hotter", so beware if you are doing a comparison. The sound on this SACD is very similar to that on my original Shaded Dog--most complimentary.

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Review by audiofreak May 31, 2006 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Probably the best Bartok "Concerto for Orchestra" ever recorded. A desert island disc for those who like the Hungarian composer. Half a star withdrawn due to the lack of sonic microdetailing (it's recorded in the 50's - but still a masterpiece within natural limits). Listen to the Hungaroton disc also.

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Review by uncle buck July 4, 2006 (0 of 7 found this review helpful)
Just to clarify:
track 1-6 is in stereo
rest of the tracks in 3 channel

no surround

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Review by Elvenraad May 8, 2007 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This SACD is astonishing. This reference performance is more than 50 years old, but you can't hear that. Every respected Bartok lover must have this gem in his collection.

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Review by threerandot May 31, 2007 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Fritz Reiner leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in these fearless performances of these most famous works by the Hungarian composer, Bela Bartok.

This was the first of several SA-CDs I purchased in the RCA Living Stereo series and it is certainly one of the very best. Fritz Reiner was a conductor whose attention to detail was unwavering and he jumps on these works by Bartok with great intensity. The Chicago Symphony play with gusto.

The Concerto for Orchestra is easily the most popular work by Bartok and it is presented here in two-channel stereo, just as it was recorded. The sound is crystal clear and the reading is intense. This is actually my first encounter with Reiner's interpretation and he is unflinching, pushing the Chicago players for all their worth. Its no wonder that this is considered by many to be the definitive reading of the Concerto for Orchestra. Its too bad this performance had not been recorded in three-channel surround like the other two works on this disc. I have noticed that listening to the Concerto for Orchestra back in SA-CD stereo on my player, actually seems to improve the focus on the sound.

The Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta has the added benefit of being recorded in three-channel surround and Reiner again dives in head first, throwing caution to the wind and the Chicago Symphony play with fiery intensity when needed and gentle and colorful tones when required. There is also nice depth in the percussion, placing it at the back of all the other instruments. The Celesta is wonderfully caught with vivid clarity.

Hungarian Sketches also benfits from a three-channel recording and Reiner does not disappoint. This is actually a wonderful way to end this disc with the sensitive reading of "An Evening in the Village", the lighthearted "Bear Dance", the humourous "Slightly Tips" and closing with the jocular "Swineheard's Dance".

This disc is a showcase of virtuoso playing and Bartok fans will certainly be impressed with these legendary readings which have been so revered. I wish I could say that this was recorded in modern DSD sound, but these 1955 and 1958 recordings capture the ambience of Orchestra Hall very well. Excellent sound for this vintage and Highly recommended to all Bartok fans. Even if you aren't a Bartok fan, the price is very attractive and makes it all the more worthwhile to add this to your SA-CD Library!

(This review refers to the MCH portion of this disc, although I do prefer the Concerto for Orchestra played in SA-CD Stereo mode.)

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Review by jeffreybehr December 28, 2013 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I've heard many of these Living Stereo SACDs years ago but bought a bunch the other day; this is the first to arrive.

I feel that these three recordings sound excellent but are not the equal of the best modern DSD recordings in resolution--that sense of having nothing between you and the orchestra but air. Depth and width of the orchestra and soundstage are excellent. The orchestra playing is truly excellent most of the time, but the frequent 'sourness' of the cellos (mostly in the Concerto) really caused me to blink.

BTW the 2-channel Concerto responds very nicely to the Ambient Recovery Mode of my conrad-johnson vacuumtubed 6-channel MET-1 preamp, adding a touch of centerfill (with the centerchannel level set well below that of the left and right channels) and a subtle amount of hall ambience from the rears.

Well worth the money.

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