STRAVINSKY: The Firebird. Fireworks. The Song of the Nightingale. Tango. Scherzo à la russe.
London Symphony Orch/Antal Dorati, cond.
MERCURY SACD 470 643 (F) (ADD) TT: 74:07

RESPIGHI: Suites 1, 2 and 3 of Ancient Dances and Airs for the Lute.
Philharmonia Hungarica Orch/Antal Dorati, cond.
MERCURY SACD 470 637 (ADD) TT: 54:32

SUPPÉ: Overtures to The Beautiful Galatea, Pique Dame, Light Cavalry, Poet and Peasant, Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna, and Boccaccio. AUBER: Overtures to The Bronze Horse, Fra Diavolo and Masaniello
Detroit Symphony Orch/Paul Paray, cond.
MERCURY SACD 470 638 (ADD) TT: 65:44

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30. Preludes in E-flat, Op. 23 No. 6/ in C-sharp minor, Op. 3 No. 2
Byron Janis, pianist; London Symphony Orch (Concerto 3); Minneapolis Symphony Orch (Concerto 2)/Antal Dorati, cond.
MERCURY SACD 470 639 (F) (ADD) TT: 75:18

BACH: Six Suites for Solo Cello. Sonata in G, BWV 1027. Sonata in D, BWV 1028.
Janos Starker, cellist/ Gyorgy Sebok, pianist
MERCURY SACD 470 644 (F) (ADD) TT: 139:36

Here they are, the first five Mercury Living Presence releases in SACD—and they live up to all expectations. Let us clarify just what these are. They are SACD releases but not surround sound. What we hear are the three original tracks - left/center/right - with nothing heard from other SACD tracks. Mercury's are exactly the same as RCA's Living Stereo SACDs - the listener hears the originally recorded tracks. All of these being hybrid disks, there also is a high quality regular CD track for those who do not have SACD players. Mercury's are premium-priced disks; RCA's are medium-priced.

The sound is extraordinary. There is a broad sonic picture in the front with perfect placement of instruments. Dynamic range is wide, impact of percussion in large orchestral passages is impressive indeed. For the most part, Mercury is releasing these in generous couplings with near-maximum playing time—with the exception of the Respighi disk which easily could have included Dorati's recording of Brazilian Impressions. Audio buffs will have a great time with the Paray Suppé and Auber overtures, and Dorati's Stravinsky disk. And Janos Starker's cello has never before been so beautifully represented on recordings. All of these are highly recommended. I look forward to future releases in this fine series.

R.E.B. (November 2004)