Columbia / Speakers Corner - MS 6023 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019714534
Limited Edition - Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas Germany
The recording is, quite simply, wonderful. The broad soundstage and natural sense of air, depth and perspective make for fascinating comparisons with contemporary Deccas. The Columbia offers a warmer and less obviously immediate and transparent presentation, but it matches the UK label’s sense of musical coherence, while the sheer substance and solid presence to the sound serve as a constant (and welcome) reminder that this is an American orchestra that you are listening to. There’s some spotlighting of solo instruments, but whether or not you notice that (or simply appreciate the clarity) will depend to a great extent on just how critical your system and speakers are. I was listening via that audio electron microscope known as the Marten Coltrane Supreme 2, and you don’t get much more incisively revealing than that, yet this record and the music it contains were an absolute joy. The "Balcony Scene" and "Death of Tybalt" illustrate both sides of this fabulous performance perfectly, the delicacy and gentle humor in the would-be lovers’ awkwardness a stark contrast with the driven tempi, angular dynamic shifts and strident clashing phrases of the fight scene. Dynamic range is unfettered and instrumental color beautifully captured, helped by the exemplary cut and silent surfaces.
This is one of the nicest reissues I’ve received in quite some time, with every aspect of its execution meeting expectations, from the disc to the labels the sleeve to the choice of material. With so many reissue houses relying on musical bankers, it’s refreshing to see Speakers Corner reissuing material from the roads and back catalogues less traveled. This LP gets my highest recommendation. More, please! TheAudioBeat
Dimitri Mitropoulos was certainly not one of the recording industry’s favorites. His repertoire was far too modern and was judged too risky by record companies since it did not guarantee a commercial success. This was very probably the reason that he was replaced by the charismatic Leonard Bernstein as Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. But his audiences loved him all the more, perhaps because they wanted to be challenged when listening to his music-making.
Just how worthwhile such a challenge can be is proved by this recording from his New York period: Prokoviev’s Ballet Suites with their richly orchestrated music are totally effective even when not staged. From the carefree gaiety of a Folk Dance, then to the lyrical sweetness of the Love Theme, right up to the "Death Of Tybalt" with Prokofiev’s hard, grim orchestral vehemence, Mitropoulos gets his New York Philharmonic to pull out all the stops. Not only is the stereophonic sound truly excellent for the technical standard of its day: the superb recording technique and heartfelt artistic dedication have resulted in a recording which possesses all that is needed to underline the legendary greatness of this Greek maestro.
New York Philharmonic
Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor
Romeo and Juliet Ballet Op. 64 (Excerpts)
Recording: November 1957 at St George Hotel, Brooklyn, NY