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Reviews: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue - Fiedler

Reviews: 7

Review by ritournel June 15, 2005 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is a fair record with an attracting set of Gershwin famoust's pieces. I found the Concerto in F particularly well interpreted and with a better sound than in the "Rhapsody in Blue" and "An american in Paris". The balance between the piano and the orchestra is excellent in all the tracks. Considering the age of this venerable performance, the result is pretty good.

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Review by Ivymike August 5, 2005 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Super performances here, and great Shaded Dog audio quality.

The recordings date from 1959 and 1961, and all are three-track. Two engineers were present, however: Lewis Layton and Anthony Salvatore. Layton chooses a sound that is more reverberant overall, with a more distant perspective; Salvatore's is closer, a bit edgier. Both have their merits and both sound fabulous.

"Rhapsody" is hard to resist even if it is a bit overexposed. (Some of my high school students commented on this when I played this disc in the background recently). Wild is set front and center before the orchestra, which sounds enormous in the reverberant acoustic of Symphony Hall, Boston. Tape hiss is low in level. The dynamic range is thrilling, hair-raising, one of those great recordings that raises goosebumps at the end. The Pops were great with this kind of music and this is a must-have recording. 4 1/2 stars for performance and sound.

The Concerto in F was a pleasant surprise to me the first time I heard it. I've since heard it live and it, too, is a good piece of light music and well-suited to the Pops. The perspective is closer in this recording, with a wide soundstage; it, too, shows off the reverberant acoustic of Symphony Hall. Watch out for the bass drum; it packs quite a wallop! Dynamics are fearsome; there's a hint of tape overload during the very loud fff passages but these don't detract from the fact that this, too, is an excellent recording. 4 1/2 stars for the performance and 4 for sound.

One additional comment: this SACD seems to have been tranferred at a lower average level than the other RCA discs in the same series. For full effect you'll need to turn up the volume a bit even if it means re-balancing the center channel.

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Review by Oakland February 27, 2006 (12 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
It is tempting to write off as pedestrian a disc that features performances of the ubiquitous "Rhapsody in Blue" and "American in Paris". But pedestrian this disc is not, either for sound or for performances.

There is so much to marvel about here. By the early 60's (6 or 7 years after itís initial stereo recordings) RCA had just about made the transition from mono and was producing it very best stereo to that point. The music and the production is top tier even by todayís best, especially the 3-channel layer. Regarding the production, the depth and soundstage are suspended in such a way that the music rarely, if ever, gives the speakers away, even in the light of day. This is truly extraordinary given the vintage of the recordings when the "ping pong" phenomenon that blatantly spot lit the 2 stereo speakers was still the presentation of choice among many labels.

I'm no Gershwin expert but the performances of all 5 compositions, nearly 80 minutes worth, really excite me. "Rhapsody in Blue" and "American in Paris" are anything but sway-backed warhorses here. The performances are fresh and exhilarating. And the "Concerto in F", which I had heard before but not really listened to, was a wonderful find. I enjoyed pianist Earl Wild, so much so that when I first bought the disc I looked him up on the web fully to read his biography, expecting something like "he was born xxxx and died xxxx" (as what is usually the case with recordings of this vintage). Hey at 90+ he is alive and kickiní (last time I checked) and still giving recitals!

The sound is great is either two-channel or three channel.

A lot of bang for the buck.

Robert C. Lang

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Review by Compression Must Die March 22, 2006 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Excellent...prefer it to vinyl. Clarity is outstanding, one of my favorite non-mainstream discs. Something about this has me coming back again and again. Worth the hard earned. :D

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Review by madisonears January 30, 2007 (4 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Do you think it's okay to love an SACD? I mean, is it proper that, after fingering it from the shelf and approaching the open drawer of the player, one gently opens the case instead of merely cracking the cover, then tenderly removes the disc and places it onto the waiting tray, trembling slightly lest the player not function properly and see the pits and decode the bits as it should instead of coughing up the dreaded "CAN'T READ" or "NO DISC"? Is it appropriate to listen for the first sound with more than just anticipation, but, instead, real longing and warm regard? Should one close one's eyes and swim in the sensuality, sway to the sinuous beauty of the first notes? Do you think it's right for a person's movements to become agitated in congruence with the rhythms of the music, to close one's eyes and try to conjure a beautiful face or a warm and inviting scene? Should someone's heart beat faster with each successive climax, then slow again as a wave of serene tenderness washes over the music and them? How can one justify feeling physically, almost emotionally connected to an electro-mechanically produced bunch of sound waves? Where is the decency in a total surrender to the alluring charms of an aged and slightly flawed warhorse which has been played by too many, distorted by more than a few, fulfilled and understood by even fewer, even hijacked and corrupted for corporate gain? Isn't it somewhat shameful to thrill at the glittering, whirling finale full of tawdry bombast and overblown sentiment?

Just checking...

Of course it's okay. That's why I own this disc.

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Review by Lucabeer January 30, 2012 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
A bit too much tape hiss, but dynamics are excellent and the performances are top notch.

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Review by EdBoxer June 9, 2012 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I've owned most of contents of this SACD on LP, Cassette, and/or CD.

The best performance here is the Concerto. Wild and Fieldler are not only ripping through this unabashed, they are clearly having a great time.

The Rhapsody in Blue and American in Paris are both very well played and among my favorite performances (surpassed only by the Bernstein). Wild in the Variations on I've Got Rhythm is little short of astonishing.

The only new performance for me was the Cuban Overture. And after hearing it, I wish they had added the "Strike up the Band" recording in its place. Both are well performed, but, for me, the "Strike up the Band" is a better fit with the rest of the contents of the disc.

Now to the sound - OMG - the three channel SACD is amazing. I have never heard these in such clarity. There is an incredible sense of depth to the sound field. Percussion and some inner voices that were always somewhat muddy are now crystal clear. You can hear where every instrument is. A direct comparison between the Living Stereo CD release (minus the Cuban Overture)and this SACD is like having 200 years of dirt removed from a Michelangelo.

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