Verdi at the Met captures the drama of Verdi's greatest operas as they were performed live at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. These ten recordings cover four decades starting with La Traviata in 1935 and feature some of the best-loved voices and conductors of the twentieth century. The famous pairing of tenor Richard Tucker and baritone Leonard Warren can be heard in Simon Boccanegra and La Forza del Destino.
For a few decades now, Fritz Reiner's recording of the Verdi Requiem (one of his rare stereo recordings not made for RCA, and not with the Chicago Symphony) has lurked in the shadowy corners of Decca's catalog, appearing only on budget LPs and CD two-fers. Now, in its latest incarnation as part of the Decca Legends series, it may at last get the recognition it deserves. Reiner's rendition has several things going for it, not least of which are the superstar soprano and tenor soloists.
These pre-Chicago recordings of Fritz Reiner with the Pittsburghers is a reminder of his greatness as a conductor. It also restores to the catalog his recordings of some composers he wasn't closely identified with. Shostakovitch, for example, wasn't a regular on Reiner's studio schedule, but should have been, for this Sixth bristles with sardonic wit and energy. The Kodaly Dances, of course, were right up Reiner's alley, and get a smashing performance. The shorter works too, are first class, especially the Bart243;k Hungarian Sketches and another Reiner calling card, Kabalevsky's Colas Breugnon Overture. Weiner's string Divertimento is charming, but the real prize may be Glinka's Kamarinskaya, given a peformance that shimmers and glistens with delicacy and life. Sony's restoration of the 1945-1947 recordings is faultless.
Fritz Reiner was one of the foremost conductors of his time. Crowning his long career in Europe and America was the decade from 1954 to 1963 as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – an illustrious partnership that ranks along such other historical tenures as Karajan’s in Berlin, Szell’s in Cleveland and Bernstein’s in New York.
…On this release Reiner and his orchestra are in glorious form. The quality of these Strauss family waltzes can survive even the most inept amateur and hand-organ grinder. In the hands of Reiner, however, the waltzes sound marvellous and are a real joy. Reiner was conducting in Vienna as early as 1915 and one can clearly hear that the Viennese stamp of authenticity is attached to these performances. The spirit of Vienna is also perpetuated with the Chicago Symphony having several Vienna-trained members at the time of these recordings. Reiner is able effortlessly to adapt to the contrasting moods and fast-changing tempos. He manages to deliver real excitement and an anticipation of what is to come next. He knows how to obtain the slight buoyancy on the second beat, an almost inaudible accent after an almost inaudible pause…
Rubinstein's heartfelt affinity and mastery of Brahms' burly piano writing is never in doubt, although the pianist's remake 10 years later with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony benefits from his greater introspection and expressive simplicity in the first movement's lyrical second theme and the entirety of the slow movement. All told, the volatile Rubinstein/Reiner Brahmsian chemistry holds its own after more than half a century. –Jed Distler, Classicstoday.com
Fritz Reiner was one of the foremost conductors of his time. Crowning his long career in Europe and America was the decade from 1954 to 1963 as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – an illustrious partnership that ranks along such other historical tenures as Karajan’s in Berlin, Szell’s in Cleveland and Bernstein’s in New York. Luckily for posterity, Reiner’s legendary interpretations at the helm of the Chicago Symphony – which no less than Igor Stravinsky called “the most precise and flexible orchestra in the world” – were captured on record by RCA Victor. Now for the first time ever, they are being issued together in a single Sony Classical box set of 63 re-mastered CDs.