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Reviews: Stravinsky: The Firebird (complete ballet), etc - Dorati

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Reviews: 9

Review by nickc September 21, 2004 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Right from the opening bars of the Firebird you can tell tension is high (with some tape hiss that you soon filter out). The cellos' eerie meanderings really set the scene for the magical goings on to come! Dorati is minutes faster than the Colin Davis Concertgebouw recording that I own; you can tell this is a ballet, not a symphony. The performance itself is a classic that has stood the test of time. The sound is simply astonishing considering it was recorded in 1959! Bass drums and brass will shake your room. The orchestra is balanced rather closely, just how I like it. An essential purchase.

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Review by thepilot October 3, 2004 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A model Firebird that stands the test of time amazingly well. The sound is miraculously vivid (you soon forgot the analog tape hiss), with tremendous vividness, detail and impact and the bass drum will challenge your system to the limit. The dynamic range is simply stupendous and the performances (Dorati was a close friend to Stravinsky) are beyond criticism. At last the true Mercury quality has reached our Hi-Fi systems through SACD. Thank you Sony for DSD,thank you Mercury for these perfect reissues.

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Review by sgb October 16, 2004 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Stellar sound and music, I agree completely with the earlier reviews,

I just wish that the first ten RCA Living Stereo releases had come close to this.

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Review by Chris October 20, 2004 (9 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Wow!!!What a disc! This recording climbs right to the top of the list of my most desirable SACDs.
This SACD is in many respects head and shoulders above most of the modern competiton regarding lifelike and truly realistic recording quality of big orchestral music.
Recorded almost half a century ago in purist analogue fashion.Luckily, in those days little else was available!
With only three omnidirectional microphones carefully hung above the front desk players,the result is truly amazing!
It is quite a close sound,with very accurate timbres and a completely coherent take on the whole proceedings.No pernicious spotmiking here! Instead we get a very realistic image of the London Symphony Orchestra spread out semi-circle fashion in front of us.
Not that I've been up on the in front of an orchestra that many times,but I guess this is very close to the sound Dorati heard from his podium.
The only modern recording I have that is quite similar is the recent Rachmaninov 2nd symphony recorded by Channel Classics.
It was also recorded from a conductor's perspective and also without obvious spotmiking.It is a very good, pure DSD recording.But though no doubt excellent too, it was recorded in a different, not quite as open acoustic, as this "classic" Watford Town Hall take was. And there are a couple of times when I think massed strings sound less than excellent there.
Especially in the 3rd movement climax where the otherwise silky strings lose their natural character a bit.
None of that on this old analogue transfer,though.
From barely audible whisperings to the powerful fortissimos in the Firebird ,everything is just open and clear and very ,very realistic.
My only real complaint, apart from a slight tape hiss,is why can't we have more recordings like this one today?
And for the generation, brought up with multimiked CDs,not having heard what a really goood LP is capable of sound-quality-wise ,this SACD will provide an almost perfect introduction to what both analogue and purist miking has got to offer.
Compulsory listening.
Oh,I almost forgot to mention that both the playing and the music is as stunning as the recording.And not only the Firebird.The Song of the Nightingale is also a wonderful work.

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Review by Dr. O August 3, 2005 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Now - here is a transfer that really works! These recordings are old (1959 and 1964), but the quality is superb! And under Dorati's deft hand, the performances are unerring and spectacular! (I am still waiting for a transfer of Dorati's justly famous 1812!)

Fireworks: Nice, though not one of Stravinsky's stellar efforts. Yet, it is easy to see why Diaghilev found the young Stravinsky to be so promising as a composer of dance music.

The Firebird: Spectacular and convincing throughout! The sonics are clear and clean. The tempos are very satisfying. This recording stands the "test of time!"

Tango, Scerzo a la Russe, and The Song of the Nightingale: All so wonderfully done! They sound as if they were recorded yesterday! (The Tango is delicious in it's nuancing of sound. One wonders why the Scherzo is not performed more often. It is fun and yummy - a definite "crowd-pleaser.")

Though this is a "3-Channel Stereo" release, one easily forgets and forgives, this being a disc of exceptional quality. A must have!!!

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Review by Ivymike August 4, 2005 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This version of "The Firebird" is the one to have...I was lucky enough to find the original vinyl in a junk store years ago and for once I was smart enough to hold onto it. It sounds very good, not having been torn up as so many Mercurys seem to.

The original Living Presence release in 1991 sounded excellent, and this SACD betters even that. The recording is actually a kind of documentary, taped in 1959 in Watford Town Hall, outside London. Three Telefunken 201 mics fed an Ampex 3-track tape recorder. No equalization or spotlighting were used, as with all Mercury recordings. Tape hiss has always been something of a problem with Mercurys on disc and this is no exception; hiss is moderate in level but easily overlooked once the music starts. The imaging in 3-channel playback is superb; the orchestra spread out in front of me, believably. The sense of depth is particularly striking; the tuba and other brass speak from a much greater distance than the woodwinds, which are in turn farther back than the violas. The dynamic range of most Mercurys was staggering; here there is a true pp at the beginning in the double basses. If you set your volume according to this you will be blown from your chair during the "Infernal Dance"; the undistorted climaxes are shudddering and will raise goosebumps.

This are music-making and recording at their best. I'd say this is one of the twenty best classical recordings and performances out there, period. Go out and get this immediately.

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Review by AmirKessner August 18, 2005 (5 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The best Mercury so far. All the Mercury goodies clarity, attack, impact, "living presence", without the Mercury disadvantages shrill, aggressive top, thin violins, etc. Much better than the CD inacarnation.

For me, the performances are too tame. In the Firebird I greatly prefer Stokowski on Decca/London Phase 4 (great sound, though a bit overblown, CD only), regrettably only the suite, not the entire ballet. The Song of the Nightingale is Reiner's, by all means, especially on the *AMAZING* SACD (RCA Living Stereo), which is tops both sonically and musically.

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Review by Michael B April 11, 2008 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
The best SACD i heard so far. Compared with the LP the Soundstage seems not as bright as on the vinyl but the orchester is much deeper drawn on the SACD. There is more place to hear into the Orchestra, to feel the depth of the recording facility. Especially when the big drums come on title 15, the rolling trough the Hall is amazing. It is really beautiful to listen to this recording. I love it so much.


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Review by CLOFUR45 October 25, 2013 (4 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  

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