Monthly Record Guide: Classical (5)

Classical Wagner, Richard: Selections from ''Die Meistersinger'' and ''Gotterdammerung.'' Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner, conductor. (RCA Red Seal .5 Series ARP1-4738) - Some of Fritz Reiner's greatest triumphs in the opera house were in Wagner operas. However, his brilliant recorded legacy with the Chicago Symphony features almost no Wagner at all. I had actually forgotten that I even owned this record in its original incarnation. A relistening served to remind anew what an exceptional musician Reiner was. The balances are stunning. He does not let the brass swamp textures; the strings soar out with majesty. There is never a sense of effect for effect's sake. The ''Meister-singer'' overture, for instance, is a model sample of what musical pulse is all about: He sets a pace, altering it slightly to allow a musical moment more clarity or more descriptive impact, without taking that moment out of its framework or turning the overture into an endless taffy pull of gratuitous tempo changes. The sound is magnificent, especially as transcribed onto this .5 Series release.

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