I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Stunning Romeo and Juliet Suite from Chicago

Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CSO Resound CSOR9011402 DDD Live Recording 2013 48:52

Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This is by far the most compelling selection from Serge Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet I have heard in a long time. Recorded live in October 2013 in Chicago, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only depict each scene with an unerring sense of drama, but also a complete understanding of the fabrics of the score and the composer’s individual sonorities. The selection is culled from the First and Second Suites, yet in spite of the tragically short total timing (a meager 48:52), we are given Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet in a nutshell.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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The Chicago Symphony in Paris

Felix Mendelssohn: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Op. 27
Claude Debussy: La Mer
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4 in F minor, Op. 36

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: The Tempest, Op. 18
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird, Suite #2 (1919)
Robert Schumann: Symphony #3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 97 “Rhenish”

Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
Paris, Salle Pleyel, 25-26 October 2014

Riccardo Muti

Riccardo Muti (© Todd Rosenberg)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) under their Music Director Riccardo Muti finished two magnificent concerts at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. Part of a European tour that took the orchestra from Poland to Austria, by way of Luxemburg, Switzerland and France, these Paris concerts were easily some of the most rewarding classical music acts I attended this year. The choice of repertoire was agreeable, but it was the outstanding quality of the CSO as well as Muti’s vision which caused most satisfaction.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Fritz Reiner in Spain

Manuel de Falla: El amor brujo; The Three-Cornered Hat / Dances; La vida breve / Interlude and Dances;
Isaac Albeniz (trans. Enrique Arbós): Iberia / Triana; Fête-dieu à Séville, Navarra;
Enrique Granados: Goyescas / Intermezzo.

Leontyne Price, soprano
Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Recorded in the Chicago Orchestra Hall, April 26, 1958 and March 4, 1963 (El amor brujo)
RCA 88697-04607-2

Spain RCA Living Stereo

Fritz Reiner in Spain

True, the odds couldn’t have been bigger: Fritz Reiner, the icy disciplinarian from Hungary, venturing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra into sunny and unbridledly passionate Spain. Yet, Reiner’s sense of clarity, orchestral balance and rhythmic vitality, the virtuosic brilliance and polish of the Chicago, Leontyne Price’s gripping dark-throated vocals (all accurately rendered by the spectacular RCA Living Stereo sonics from 1963), transform De Falla’s ballet “El amor brujo” into a hard-to-top exploration of Iberian desire, color and atmosphere.

The regrettably short survey of “The Three-Cornered Hat”, recorded in 1958, including the irresistibly lilting final dance, boasts the same qualities. Two excerpts from De Falla’s opera “La Vida breve”, the interlude and the well-known dance, are also played with tremendous zest and brilliance. The remainder of the program from 1958 consists of orchestral transcriptions by Enrique Arbós of three fragments from Isaac Albeniz’ “Iberia”. The Intermezzo from Enrique Granados’ “Goyescas” is offered as a final bonus.

These vintage RCA Living Stereo three-track recordings from 1958 and 1963 have never sounded better in their SACD format. The re-release of the Living Stereo discs on SACD has sadly been discontinued, which is little surprising when for the majority mp3 is considered the standard. Get it while it’s still available.

Copyright © 2013 Marc Haegeman. All Rights Reserved.