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CD Review

Great Conductors of the 20th Century

Fritz Reiner

Emil Gilels, piano
Carol Brice, soprano
1 Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
2 RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
3 The Robin Hood Dell Orchestra (Philadelphia Orchestra)/Fritz Reiner
4 NBC Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
5 Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
EMI Great Conductors of the Century 562866-2 2CDs 158m ADD
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A great conductor in every sense of the word, Fritz Reiner made several recordings with a number of orchestras but he is best remembered for his ten year tenure at Chicago which yielded a number of state-of-the-art and artistically superior tapings that are much sought after to this day.

Beethoven's 'Coriolan' Overture is at once taut and constricted and is indeed a fine interpretation. The famous recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto #2 with Emil Gilels is also a classic of the gramophone and here it receives a fine remastering that does justice to this epic partnership especially in the noble First Movement. Mozart's Symphony #36, 'Linz' is lithe and speedy yet Reiner never loses control of the overall grasp and the big picture of Mozartian greatness.

I greatly enjoyed Brahms' 'Tragic Overture' which is one of the finest recordings of this piece and the Wagnerian drama of 'Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey' is also quite excellently captured. Reiner was also a great Richard Strauss interpreter and his reading of 'Till Eulenspiegel' is definitely another great classic as is the wonderfully brittle and clear recording of Ravel's 'Le Tombeau de Couperin'. Another clear Reiner favourite was Manuel de Falla's sensual 'El amor brujo' which is a showpiece in virtuosity brilliantly played by the Pittsburgh Symphony in a classic 1946 recording. Short works by Mendelssohn and Bartók make up this jam packed collection that is another all round portrait of excellence of one of the greater figures of 20th century conducting.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech