ORFF: Carmina Burana. (Judith Blegen, soprano. Kenneth Riegel, tenor. Peter Binder, baritone. Cleveland Orchestra, Chorus and Boys Choir / MichaelTilson Thomas, cond. BEETHOVEN: Late Choral Music.(Ambrosian Opera Chorus / London Symphony Orchestra / Michael Tilson Thomas, cond.) GERSHWIN: An American in Paris, (New York Philhrmonic / Michael Tilson homas, cond.) Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin, piano roll / Columbia Jazz Bnd / Mifhael Tilson Thomas, cond.)
DUTTON / EPOCH SACD CDLX 7368 TT: 86:29
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PUCCINI: La Bohème (Placido Domingo (Rodolfo). Montserrat Caballé (Mimi). Sherrill Milnes (Marcello). Judith Blegen (Musetta). Ruggiero Raimondi (Colline). Johh Alldis Choir. Wandsworth School Boys Choir. London Philharmonic Orchestra / Georg Solti, cond. Arias from Verdi's Otello and Un Ballo en Maschera and Puccini;s Suor Angelica Manon Lescaut and Madam Butterfly (Leontyne Price, soprano. Placido Domingo, tenor. New Philharmonia Orchestra / Nello Santi, cond.
DUTTON / EPOCH SACD LX 73656 (2 disks) TT: 2 hrs 29:24
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E. POWER BIGGS - MUSIC FOR ORGAN, BRASS AND PERCUSSION
DUTTON / EPOCH SACD CDLX 7368 TT: 86:29
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It is great to have these remarkable Michael Tilson Thomas recordings issued on SACD in the original four-track recording format. Orff's huge choral work is exciting and here is given a superb performance with excellent soloists and the Cleveland Orchestra in top form. The performance was recorded in Cleveland's Masonic Auditorium and in Columbia's 30th Street Studios August 4/5 and September 4, 1974, which seems rather odd - were there retakes in New York? The collection of Beethoven late choral works was recorded i London's Abbey Road Studio December 19, 1973. This music will be new to most listeners. Featured is incidental music for King Stephen. We return to New York for the two Gershwin works. An American in Paris was recorded in Avery Fisher Hall February 11, 1974, and Rhapsody in Blue was in Columbia's 30th Street Studios. This is an oddity. Producers have incorporated the composer's Duo-Art piano rolls containing the composer's performance of the piano part. They then skillfully added the original jazz band accompaniment. It worked very well indeed. The multi-channel audio on this important release is exemplary, spreading the huge choral forces and percussion-laden orchestra throughout the entire listening space Profuse program notes by the original producer of the Gershwin, Andrew Kazdin, are another plus. No texts are provided, but there are 41 tracks. Don't miss this¡

Another welcome quad reissue is the 1973 RCA recording of Puccini's La Boheme. We have an all-star cast headed by Placido Domingo and Montserrat Caballe at the beginning of their careers. Conductor George Solti, known for his Wagner and Verdi, recorded only two Puccini operas (the other was Tosca). And the supporting cast could not be bettered. The quad audio is magnificent with the listener right in the center of the orchestra, singers well spaced and balanced. The set is filled out with duets of Verdi and Puccini as listed above, in which Domingo is joined by a young Leontyne Price. The recording was in London's Walthamstow Town Hall July 1974. Again, this early quad recording is outstanding, the two singers supported by a rich orchestra. If you love opera - and audio - you Must get this important reissue.

About two years ago this site praised a Dutton/Epoch reissue of a 1973 Columbia quad recording of organ concertos by of Rheinberger played by E. Power Biggs (REVIEW). Now we have more of the same. This well-filled SACD contains a collection of organ showpieces arranged for organ, brass and percussion. We have music of Gigout, Dupré, Campra, Widor, Richard Strauss, Purcell, Clarke and Karg-Ellert. Biggs is accompanied by the Columbia Brass and Percussion Ensemble directed by Maurice Peress. The recordings were made January 10, 1972 in New York's St. George's Church. The remainder of the disk isa group of sinfonias by Bach recorded on the Schulke Positive Organ in Leipzig's St. Thomas Church. Biggs is accompanied by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and conductor Hans-Joachim Ro†zsch. The recording was made June 1, 1975. Engineers have provided a very satisfying multi-channel experience. Recommended!

R.E.B. (Deember 2019)