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Peter Johnson

Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony), etc.

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I know this release (Charles Munch directing the Boston Symphony, ca. 1956) has had a bit of discussion here, but please allow me to commend it to anyone who's the least bit interested in it. Let me disclaim: I've been listening to the Organ Symphony since I was very young; it is one of my father's favorite compositions, and between the two of us, we have nine separate recordings of it (including the original LP of this one) and have heard it performed at least four times. So I'm not really an "unbiased" source. But I just have to say:

This release is fucking INCREDIBLE.

I don't know that I've heard a classical CD (I don't have an SACD player, so reference point is the CD layer) that has been this clear, this simply recorded, this sonically PURE in my entire life. The sound on this is just amazing. I don't know any history of the "Living Stereo" releases, but the liner notes state discuss (interestingly) the particular challenges of recording this composition with two mics going to two monoblocks, then cut in stereo to acetate; the predominant issue was balancing the organ and the orchestra (in high and low dynamic ranges)* so neither overwhelmed the other. Well, they did it, and this is as close to "being there" as I've come when listening to a CD. The piece itself is spectacular, if you've never heard it, and while it contains some romantic/impressionist cliches, on balance, it's a feast for the ears and, in many parts, heart breakingly beautiful. In this recording, the flutes soar, the trumpets cut through the mix, you can clearly tell the piece is scored for two pianos and harp (!), and it just...well, words fail. Technical and spiritual perfection. This is one of the most extraordinary recordings I've purchased in years--I don't have a single criticism.

A bonus on this release is the inclusion of Debussy's "La Mer" and Ibert's "Escales", both of which are equally sonically fantastic; I can't speak to the technical/scoring strengths of those, as I'm not intimately familiar with them.

This cost $12.99 at Barnes & Noble; trust me, your soul will thank you for spending the best thirteen bucks you could ever hope to let leave your wallet. I know I'm coming off as a mega-fan, here, but seriously--give this a listen.

B0002TKFGI.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg

* Many recordings of this piece overdub the organ later and "fix it in the mix" to avoid this problem

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Nice review :tup I picked this one up not too long ago, sounds stunning in sacd for a late 50's recording. I have the entire Living Stereo sacd collection and they rock, highly recommended!

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I know this release (Charles Munch directing the Boston Symphony, ca. 1956) has had a bit of discussion here, but please allow me to commend it to anyone who's the least bit interested in it.  Let me disclaim: I've been listening to the Organ Symphony since I was very young; it is one of my father's favorite compositions, and between the two of us, we have nine separate recordings of it (including the original LP of this one) and have heard it performed at least four times.  So I'm not really an "unbiased" source.  But I just have to say:

This release is fucking INCREDIBLE.

I don't know that I've heard a classical CD (I don't have an SACD player, so reference point is the CD layer) that has been this clear, this simply recorded, this sonically PURE in my entire life.  The sound on this is just amazing.  I don't know any history of the "Living Stereo" releases, but the liner notes state discuss (interestingly) the particular challenges of recording this composition with two mics going to two monoblocks, then cut in stereo to acetate; the predominant issue was balancing the organ and the orchestra (in high and low dynamic ranges)* so neither overwhelmed the other.  Well, they did it, and this is as close to "being there" as I've come when listening to a CD.  The piece itself is spectacular, if you've never heard it, and while it contains some romantic/impressionist cliches, on balance, it's a feast for the ears and, in many parts, heart breakingly beautiful.  In this recording, the flutes soar, the trumpets cut through the mix, you can clearly tell the piece is scored for two pianos and harp (!), and it just...well, words fail.  Technical and spiritual perfection.  This is one of the most extraordinary recordings I've purchased in years--I don't have a single criticism.

A bonus on this release is the inclusion of Debussy's "La Mer" and Ibert's "Escales", both of which are equally sonically fantastic; I can't speak to the technical/scoring strengths of those, as I'm not intimately familiar with them.

This cost $12.99 at Barnes & Noble; trust me, your soul will thank you for spending the best thirteen bucks you could ever hope to let leave your wallet.  I know I'm coming off as a mega-fan, here, but seriously--give this a listen.

B0002TKFGI.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg

* Many recordings of this piece overdub the organ later and "fix it in the mix" to avoid this problem

Even cheaper HERE !!

I'm ordering one!

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Even cheaper HERE !!

I'm ordering one!

That's not the hybrid, FFA--although a few reviews on Amazon say there's not a lot of difference in the CD layers between the two. I can't compare; but here's a link to the hybrid.

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Even cheaper HERE !!

I'm ordering one!

That's not the hybrid, FFA--although a few reviews on Amazon say there's not a lot of difference in the CD layers between the two. I can't compare; but here's a link to the hybrid.

Yes, I finally figured that out. :wacko: <<<(me all day today)

Thanks for the link Peter. That's the one I wanna get.

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This and four other Living Stereo hybrid SACDs are available at yourmusic.com!

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Peter -

This was one of my father's very favorite compositions as well. I have treasured memories of him "air-directing" this in our living room when I was young.

I have two versions of this already - the Philadelphia Orchestra directed by Eugene Ormandy (RCA), and a Berlin Philharmonic recording, with Pierre Cochereau on the organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (orchestra directed by Herbert Von Karajan, on Deutsche Grammophon). But you've piqued my curiosity enough to order this version.

PS - Lon, I've found the Munch, two Reiners, and a Rubinstein Living Stereo discs at yourmusic. What am I missing?

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Peter -

This was one of my father's very favorite compositions as well.  I have treasured memories of him "air-directing" this in our living room when I was young. 

I have two versions of this already - the Philadelphia Orchestra directed by Eugene Ormandy (RCA), and a Berlin Philharmonic recording, with Pierre Cochereau on the organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (orchestra directed by Herbert Von Karajan, on Deutsche Grammophon).  But you've piqued my curiosity enough to order this version.

PS - Lon, I've found the Munch, two Reiners, and a Rubinstein Living Stereo discs at yourmusic.  What am I missing?

Van Cliburn: Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1 (SACD Hybrid)

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Thanks for the heads-up. I do not have enough classical in my collection, especially since I'm no longer in college, where I was in the thick of it (both performing and recording). Sibelius is someone I am only vaguely familair with, but I love organ and orchestra.

I will check this out!

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By the way--put this on, and TURN IT UP--particularly when it's about to seque into the fourth movement! :g

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I think you might have better luck familiarizing yourself if you spell Sibelius as "Saint-Saens"..........

Mike

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I think you might have better luck familiarizing yourself if you spell Sibelius as "Saint-Saens"..........

Mike

Ha! That's funny... I didn't even realize I did that. :D Interesting how the brain works sometimes (or doesn't work, as the case may be).

Doh!

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I don't have the new reissue but do have an earlier incarnation coupled with the Poulanc Concerto for Organ, Strings and Tympani with the same forces. In fact, I have a duplicate I'll bring to Billy's on Thursday if I can remember it.

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Sibelius for Saint-Saens!

Poulanc for Poulenc!

What have the French done to you people :excited:

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Sibelius for Saint-Saens!

Poulanc for Poulenc!

What have the French done to you people  :excited:

I still like your fries. :)

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Funny to run across this thread. I was playing the Living Stereo release this morning and it never fails to amaze me. While I don't own a huge classical music collection, this surely ranks near the top of the list as my all time favs. I could be in the middle of something and when the second movement begins, I'll drop everything that I'm doing. A spectacular work and recording. So glad to own it. :tup

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Yes, this is a fine recording. It sounds even better on an SACD player.

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