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  Living Stereo
  Vienna - Reiner
  Johann Strauss Jr., Josef Strauss, Richard Strauss, von Weber

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

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Related titles: 11 show all

Reviews: 5 show all

Site review by Castor May 12, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by threerandot June 25, 2007 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Fritz Reiner displays Viennese Charm and style with this collection of enjoyable favorites featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, there are a few bumps here and there.

This disc gets off to the right start with a light-hearted rendering of "Morning Papers", followed by an equally persuasive Emperor Waltz and a rousing "On The Beautiful Blue Danube". These three are surprisingly warm sounding and must have been demonstration class in their day. Reiner catches the subtlety of these favorites. There is plenty of depth in the sound, with the snare drum well placed behind the orchestra and the cello solos are ravashing, given this vintage. Horns and winds are equally impressive, although the flute at the end of The Blue Danube seems to be too far back in the mix for my liking. Strings are caught very naturally without harshness. Very impressive.

"Invitation to The Dance" by Weber displays Reiner's attention to detail with precise and vituosic playing from flutes, strings and horns. "Village Swallows" will put a smile on your face with its easy going nature. There is a kind of whistle played in this one that makes my pet budgie chirp back. There is excellent wind playing in this one, as well as some nice bass effects. The Waltzes from "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss is probably the weakest point in this collection as it appears to be a simple medley of tunes from that famous opera. Most of it seems to go well but the last couple of minutes mar this performance with some pretty trashy playing.

The disc closes with four works by Johann Strauss, Jr., beginning with a fine reading of "Vienna Blood", which I think could have benefited with the smare drum placed further away from the microphone. A solid performance. Next, its the "Roses From The South" with a reading that could have had a little more sparkle and the ending could have benefited with a little more finesse. "Treaure Waltz" also seems to lack enough sparkle with the snare drum again placed too close. The disc ends with one of the highlights, the "Thunder and Lightning". Where the close placement of percussion seemed to hurt a few of the items on this disc, it seems to helpe here, emphasising the "Thunder and Lightning" effect for this polka. Reiner and the Chicago players pull out all of the stops and dive in head first. A fun way to end this disc.

Cosidering that these recordings are from 1957 and 1960, the sound is gorgeous. There is warmth, clarity and more depth than in many of these Living Stereo recordings. At least of the ones I have in this series.

I thought that I might have been able to give this disc a higher rating, but it seems to me that Reiner may not have had the right stuff to sustain an entire disc of waltzes. Playing this disc by skipping the Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier could make this program more enjoyable. Still, there is plenty of nice playing on this disc.

For those who are familiar with these recordings and have always enjoyed them, then this is an easy recommendation. Others may want to stay away. Recommended with reservations.

(This review refers to the Multi-Channel portion of this disc.)

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Review by Jonalogic August 17, 2010 (5 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Reiner doing Strauss Waltzes? Always controversial. However, if the foot taps, you get a sudden urge to conduct the music or leap onto the dance floor, then it's probably working. And so it proves here, for the most part.

And then we come to the sound. Tracks 1-6 date from 1957 and the remainder from 1960. Sonically, the earlier session is just plain astonishing, in the top tier of Living Stereo, with all that implies in terms of transaprency, musical lucidity, instrumental timbre and hall presence. For some of the tracks, the technology just vanishes and you are just there. You just can't ask for more than that.

The remaining tracks don't quite live up to this exalted standard. The mikes are palpably closer in 1960 and - even pulling back the volume correspondingly, the hall and musical coherence dissipates rather. So, a down-grade from 'magical' to merely 'excellent' - although the bass drum thwacks for the 'Thunder and Lighting Polka' - which closes the SACD, will certainly stir you from slumber.

A no-brainer purchase if the repertoire appeals or you are interested in high-end sound. And at this price?

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Works: 9  

Johann Strauss II - An der schönen blauen Donau (The beautiful blue Danube), Op. 314
Johann Strauss II - Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor Waltz), Op. 437
Johann Strauss II - Morgenblätter (Morning Papers), Op. 279
Johann Strauss II - Rosen aus dem Süden (Roses from the South), Op. 388
Johann Strauss II - Unter Donner und Blitz (Thunder and Lightning) Polka schnell, Op. 324
Johann Strauss II - Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood), Op. 354
Josef Strauss - Dorfschwalben aus Österreich (Village Swallows from Austria), Op. 164
Richard Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier, TrV 227 Op. 59
Carl Maria von Weber - Aufforderung zum Tanze (Invitation to the Dance), J. 260 Op. 65