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Discussion: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade - Reiner

Posts: 67
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 next

Post by avraham January 29, 2005 (1 of 67)
I read sgh's review of Reiner's Sheherazade a couple of days after purchasing my own copy of this SACD. I have four recordings of 'Sheherazade,' six if you count the RBCD layers on two SACDs. Two are the Reiner version on both CD and the new SACD reissue. I have the Valery Gergiev version on Philips SACD and Yuri Temirkanov's version on RCA Victor “Red Seal” CD.
I have reviewed all four discs in two channel stereo mode to make the comparisons fair. One of the first things I noticed was the differences in tempo between the three different recordings with the Reiner being the fastest. I checked the timings and sure enough the Reiner had shortest playing time with 44:30 minutes, the Gergiev at 45:51 and the Temirkanov at 48:05.
The three different performances I find almost equally enjoyable. If pressed to list in a priority order, I would have to start with the Temirkanov version first, the Reiner version second with the Gergiev version a very close third. Rating by sonics and my slightly tarnished ears (no claims of golden ears on my part), I would rate the order to be first the Gergiev version, second the Reiner version and third the Temirkanov version sounding remarkedly good for being a RBCD. In fact the Temirkanov RBCD sounds much better than either the Reiner RBCD or the RB layer on the Reiner SACD.

Post by sgb January 30, 2005 (2 of 67)
In the hopes of not offending anyone's preferences for a particular performance of this old warhorse, I chose not to state a preference for one in particular, but to note that I consider at least two to surpass Reiner's.

Of the modern recordings (meaning those released about the same time as or after Reiner's) my favorite remains Lorin Maazel's with the Cleveland Orchestra for Decca. This one was done in the late seventies if memory serves me well, and, to my knowledge, it may never have been released in the USA as a CD. What I find so captivating about this one is the contribution of the solo violinist whose approach is most gut-wrenchingly sweet and melancholic. Most assuredly, the Clevelanders are in stellar form too, and the sound quality is quite clear; about what one would expect from the Decca recording team, and easily on a par with their famous Maazel - Cleveland Respighi release. To my knowledge, only Andrew Quint of The Absolute Sound has ever written anything about this record (perhaps as much as 20 years after its release, I think), and his assessments of it coincided perfectly with my own. Good man, he.

Then, of course, there's also the very highly regarded Kondrashin - Concertgebouw version for Philips (289 464 735-2 on CD) featuring the very able Herman Krebbers in one of his best recorded performances. In my opinion, this Philips transfer easily bested the earlier RCA CD of the Reiner in terms of its sound qualities, and remains my favorite performance in the CD medium.

Either of the two above are, IMHO, superior performances to Reiner's, and I am sure that other SACD enthusiasts could report on their favorites too. As far as Reiner is concerned, I must confess that he has never been one of my favorite conductors, but as in all things regarding music or sound, this is a personal choice. I will, however, continue to buy new Reiner SACD releases in the hopes that these will offer my audiophile side something to enjoy. Best wishes, sgb.

Post by akiralx January 30, 2005 (3 of 67)
sgb said:

In the hopes of not offending anyone's preferences for a particular performance of this old warhorse, I chose not to state a preference for one in particular, but to note that I consider at least two to surpass Reiner's.

Yes, I have heard Reiner's performance and good though it it, I don't think any one recording is definitive, and I prefer at least 2 others, Beecham's on EMI, and the finest I have heard: Myun-Whun-Chung's on DG with the Orchestra of the Bastille Opera - coupled with a fine Firebird Suite.

I don't regard the Reiner as an essential SACD purchase. But if they were to release his Respighi Pini di Roma, well....

Post by avraham January 30, 2005 (4 of 67)
No offense taken at least not on my part. I'm here to learn and you have given me two new possibilities to add to my collection. Thanks for your opinions. This website is an invaluable learning tool for me. Unfortunately I have little day to day contact with people with these same interests, so being able to go on line and discuss classical and jazz music is a great experience.
Have a great day.

Post by armenian January 30, 2005 (5 of 67)
I must confess that he has never been one of my favorite conductors, but as in all things regarding music or sound, this is a personal choice.
If you want Reiner at his best try some of his R. Strauss recordings. His Scheherazade is an ok performance like many others in the catalog. It is really impossible for any conductor to mess up this work, most orchestras can play this work in their sleep and you will get a perfectly ok performance.
I do not listen to this work anymore, but a long time ago I came across one that to date is my preferred version, it's the Stokowski with Philharmonia, this is one work that somehow survived Stokowski's meddling with the score, if you can tolerate Stokowski's highly personal conducting style along with some "improvements" here and there in Rimsky's score, give this one a try.

Vahe

Post by mdt January 30, 2005 (6 of 67)
armenian said:

most orchestras can play this work in their sleep and you will get a perfectly ok performance.

and some can even put the listener a sleep while doing so, for example Gergeiev

i like Ashkenazy on Decca and am curious for Reiner who is not yet out on SA-CD in my country

Post by flyingdutchman January 30, 2005 (7 of 67)
Reiner's recording is the best ever of this warhorse and is THE one to get of available SACDs. Kondrashin's can't hold a candle to it. Reiner's finale is above and beyond anyone's out there. The only other one I would recommend next to it is Stokowski's LSO on Cala Records now. Reiner's is by far the choice of many a discerning classical listener.

Post by sgb January 31, 2005 (8 of 67)
FWIW, Classics Today recommends the Spano/Atlanta on Telarc as the best performance and the best sound available.

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=388

I suppose there's no accounting for taste after all.

Post by Dinko January 31, 2005 (9 of 67)
mdt said:

and some can even put the listener a sleep while doing so, for example Gergeiev

:giggle:

You're all wrong, and none of your recommendations are any good, because *the* all time best Scheherazade is by Anton Nanut and the Ljubljana Symphony Orchestra.

Just kidding! ;)



I lost count of the number of Scheherazades I have heard on CD and radio. I tried to rate them; tried to pick out "the best"; compared them one to another, sometimes minute by minute; looked at the score; listened again; compared some more; and finally, the only conclusion I've come to regarding this work is that every single one of these recordings has something going for it. Even Gergiev's, which I think is one of the most boring, has some very nice touches. It all depends on which mood one is in. Since we're throwing names out in the open, I'll add that the ones I listen to most often are Jansons, Ormandy (Columbia/stereo), Yuasa and Temirkanov.

Post by peteyspambucket January 31, 2005 (10 of 67)
I stand by my review of the Gergiev Scheherazade. I still hate it.

As for the Reiner, I bought this SACD last week, and I am highly UNimpressed by the performance. The violin solos are boring, and the slow movement's phrasing seems all wrong. In fact, a lot of the phrasing doesn't sound very idiomatic to me.

The best recordings I've ever heard of the piece are from Svetlanov/USSR Symphony (1960's) and the previously mentioned Kondrashin on Philips.

The Svetlanov is to me perfect in every way. I think he follows the score the best also, especially in the slow movement. (Svetlanov re-recorded it 2 more times, and all with the same interpretation, which is great, but the oldest recording has the most energy/excitement.)

The Kondrashin is blessed with the best sound I've ever heard of the piece, which gives it amazing clarity and transparency.

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