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CD Review

Fritz Reiner

Live Recordings 1943-1957

Lauritz Melchior, narrator
* NBC Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
** New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
Guild Historical GHCD2333 78m ADD (Rec. 1947-57)
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This latest release from Guild's excellent historical series focuses on the art of Fritz Reiner, one of the last century's finest conductors who has the reputation of being somewhat of a martinet. The musical results available here are however a testament to the superb virtuosity and generally high level of excellence which Reiner managed to attain from his orchestras, mainly all American

Mozart is not a name which readily springs to mind when talking about Reiner but this taut and precise account of the overture to "L'Impresario" is quite accomplished and extremely vivid. Prokofieff's delightful "Peter and the Wolf" has the ubiquitous Lauritz Melchior as narrator and the work comes across quite jovially notwithstanding Reiner's reputation as a dour sod.

Shostakovich was certainly a composer close to Reiner's heart and here we can revel in a quite brilliant recording of the Sixth which matches such illustrious contemporaries as Kondrashin, Mravinsky and Rostropovich. The rest of the disc is given over to shorter pieces such as Tchaikovsky's "Marche Miniature", "Fêtes" from Debussy's Nocturnes and finally the giant Fugue in G minor by Bach in a fine arrangement by Lucien Caillet. Surely this new issue is a must for historical recording lovers and a moving tribute to the greatness of Fritz Reiner.

Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech