This nth CD reissue of Reiner's classic account from 1959 of Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky doesn't need my endorsement, of course. But still, any comments on interpretation aside, it does suffer two drawbacks: one is that it is sung in English. Not a good choice, ultimately. It adds very little to the text's understandability - you still need the read the text to understand what the chorus is singing (it is provided in the excellent liner notes). And as excellently as the Chicago Symphony Chorus prepared by Margaret Hillis manages to imitate a deep sounding Russian chorus, the effect is somewhat akin to hearing Gospel or Negro Spirituals or Porgy and Bess sung in Russian - it's OK for Russians, I guess, but for purists it is simply not the authentic thing.
Another problem is the sound of this remastering. It is certainly wide and deep and ample and spacious, but there is so much stereo separation at times, with bass and brass confined to the right channel and violins to the left, that I can't help suspect some fiddling with the original sonics. I don't have the original LP to compare this reissue with, nor the previous CD reissues (with the Suite from Ltn Kijé, Glinka: Russlan and Ludmilla; Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé; Alexander Nevsky or Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky; Lieutenant Kije Suite) but it sounds at times like those wretched "electronically-reprocessed stereo" mono recordings from the early stereo era. Sometimes more is not better. But maybe on loudspeakers it isn't as bothersome as heard over headphones.
I was stunned to see that this was only the first CD reissue of Leonid Kogan and Pierre Monteux' recording of Khachaturian's Violin Concerto, made in 1958, and it is good to have it back. The remastered sound is less blooming, ample and spacious than in Reiner's Nevsky, but much more natural, with a realistic balance between violin and orchestra - meaning that the violin is not prominent, but embedded in the orchestral texture. Kogan's tone may be leaner and less sunny than with the concerto's first performer and dedicatee, David Oistrakh, but he plays with precision and drive. The liner notes reproduce the original LP notes by Rudolph Elie, recounting Kogan's US debut on January 10, 1958, with the same orchestra and conductor, in Brahms' Violin Concerto. Khachaturian was recorded two days later (with Saint-Saens' Havanaise, the original LP coupling), and Monteux had never before conducted the piece. In the outer movements, you don't hear it. The orchestra has all the required snap and brilliance, marginally more even than Oistrakh and Khachaturian in their 1965 stereo recording with the USSR Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra (the brass in particular have great bite), and the two partners never milk the more lyrical moments, avoiding any mawkish sentimentality. In fact the approach is very similar to Oistrakh and Khachaturian¬'s earlier, mono recording from 1954 with the London Philharmonia on HMV/EMI. Kogan practices a substantial cut in the first movement cadenza (18 measures, at 8:28) - Oistrakh always played his own cadenza, not the printed one. Like Oistrakh, Kogan also does a minor cut in the finale. It is only in the slow movement that Khachaturian and Oistrakh, especially in their later recording, delve deeper, developing a more brooding atmosphere, finding incomparable shades of soft dreaminess, and offering a more despaired climax.
I have the 1954 recording of Oistrakh and Khachaturian on Khachaturian: Gayane Suite for orchestra No1; Concerto for violin in Dm, but it now can be more cheaply found on Khachaturian: Violin Concerto/Taneyev: Suite de Concert - David Oistrakh, Aram Khachaturian, Philharmonia Orchestra. As for the 1965 stereo remake, I happen to have it on a variety of CD reissues: the French Chant du Monde CD, volume 3 of the 15-CD "Edition David Oistrakh" published in the late 1980s, paired with Kabalevsky's Violin Concerto, Edition David Oistrakh - Khatchaturian, Kabalevski Violin Concertos; on Russian Disc's Khachaturian: Concerto for violin in Dm; Concerto for piano in Df paired with the Piano Concerto, in another composer-conducted performance with Nicolai Petrov; on Khatchaturian: Symphony No.1, Violin Con, a 2-CD set from Melodiya with various composer-conducted Khachaturian compositions, and on a 2-CD set from Vox with the Sibelius Concerto, plus Franck and Shostakovich's Violin Sonatas played by Oistrakh and Richter (Sibelius: Concerto Op47; Franck: Sonata for violin in A); the Vox Khachaturian/Sibelius is itself a reissue from an earlier Mobile Fidelity CD which I don't have, David Oistrakh: Khachaturian / Sibelius. All these reissues sound virtually alike.