NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, BOSTON SYMPHONY, CHICAGO SYMPHONY, PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA. Legendary Strauss Recordings. RCASkip to next paragraph
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This is a landmark historical recording, one of the most significant reissues of the CD era. Included are the first complete recordings of Richard Strauss's "Also sprach Zarathustra" and "Don Quixote," along with the first American recording of "Ein Heldenleben." It's vintage stuff, dating from 1928 to 1941, so sticklers for state-of-the-art digital surfaces will be put off by the unavoidable noise and occasionally thin recorded sound. The rest of us, however, can wallow in some absolutely splendid music making.
Serge Koussevitsky conducts the BSO in 1935 in a grand, slowly unfolding "Also sprach," while Leopold Stokowski leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in a "Death and Transfiguration" filled with fire and brimstone and mysterious beauty.
Also here is Sir Thomas Beecham's 1932 New York Philharmonic recording of "Don Quixote," with an exquisitely warm and poignant finale solo by principal cellist Alfred Wallenstein. Willem Mengelberg leads the same orchestra in "Ein Heldenleben," and Frederick Stock presides over the Chicago Symphony in the first recording of a segment of "Aus Italien." WENDY CARLOS. Switched-on Bach 2000. Telarc
It's hard to believe that a quarter-century has passed since Walter Carlos first recorded "Switched-on Bach."
In the intervening years, a good deal has happened on both personal and musical fronts. As to the former, Walter is now Wendy. As to the latter, the list of devices, both digital and analog, that Ms. Carlos used in making this disc runs 2 1/2 inches deep in the CD booklet - from a Macintosh computer to seven Kurzweil synthesizers to digital reverb to Dolby Surround encoders and decoders. This is quite a switch from the original disc, whose sole instrument of choice was the Moog synthesizer.
The new results, whether or not your playback system is equipped with surround sound, are mighty impressive. Carlos has essentially rerecorded the greatest hits on his first effort - "Air on a G String," "Wachet Auf," "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and the Third Brandenburg Concerto among them - and added a few surprises, including a Toccato & Fugue in D minor, that are guaranteed to shake the walls.
The pipe-organ sound Carlos synthesizes here, also showcased on the Sinfonia in D, sounds like the real McCoy, as does his harpsichord and, of all things, his Balinese gamelan. That may not have been exactly the instrument Bach had in mind when he wrote his Prelude No. 2 in C minor, but it works, especially with the terrifying tinge of the quarter-tone tunings.
The gamelan is only one of the vast array of both identifiable and off-the-wall sounds this electronic wizard of a composer has come up with. Far from a retread of the original, "Switched-On Bach 2000" is both fun and technologically mesmerizing. SEATTLE SYMPHONY, GERARD SCHWARZ, CONDUCTOR. A Tribute to William Schuman. Delos International, Inc.