This is another solid offering from Reference Recordings and Minnesota. Like the best recordings from this team, it has some well-known gems mixed in with some unfamiliar fare. The program is well played and engineered, although it's not really my favorite disc in the series. The reason is simple; the pieces that are standards are simply bested elsewhere. That said, if you are looking for a disc of orchestral highlights from the operatic world, this is a good choice.
The Rimsky-Korsakov holds nothing on Ormandy's wonderful rendition, happily appended to the end of that great conductor's famous Nutcracker disc. Both the Saint-Saëns and Strauss are bested by Paray in my hometown of Detroit (and if you think I'm biased, Ormandy and Reiner can be suggested). The shorter pieces are better, but nothing is especially essential. Even the engineering doesn't impress me quite as much as previous releases have.
Is this a bad disc? No, absolutely not. The Minnesota Orchestra plays with its usual expertise. And "very good" sonic quality for Reference equals excellent for everyone else. If anything, Oue simply doesn't give each piece enough character, and there is a definite lack of "snap" (for my views on that, see my review of Reference RR-80CD). But like I said, if you're in the market for such an album, this will do just fine.
Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman