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Scheherazade/Valse Triste/Les Preludes

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£12.75 In stock. Dispatched from and sold by Presto Classical.

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op.35: 1. The Sea And Sinbad's Ship
  2. Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op.35: 2. The Tale Of The Prince Kalandar
  3. Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op.35: 3. The Young Prince And The Young Princess
  4. Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op.35: 4. Festival As Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Goes To Pieces Against A Rock Surmounted By A Bronze Warrior. Conclusion
  5. Valse Triste
  6. Les Preludes
  7. The Moldau ('Vltava')

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x96296114) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9646600c) out of 5 stars An overlooked yet rewarding vintage Shahrazad recording 7 Jun. 2003
By Yi-Peng - Published on Amazon.com
This Mercury Living Presence recording of Shahrazad was made at the end of the 1950s, some time after Mercury re-recorded the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture. Antal Dorati leads the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in a thrilling account of the score. Admittedly, were this version of Shahrazad better-known, it would have stood among the great vintage stereo Shahrazad recordings such as the Beecham, Reiner, Ansermet and Stokowski versions. Dorati elicits playing of raw passion and energy from his Minneapolis ensemble. I like it that this recording treats Shahrazad as a continuous piece, as a rhapsodic symphony of soundscapes from the Arabian Nights, as it is meant to sound, rather than a ballet as in Gergiev's version. Here, in this Mercury recording, the music is meant to have a forward momentum of its own without wallowing. And, even if the characteristic Mercury recording may not sound as sumptuous as the Myung-whun Chung account, the sound is still lifelike, natural and clear.

Dorati's treatment of the Sultan's theme may not be as imposing or grandiose as we are used to, but violinist Rafael Druian answers it with a sensitive and sinuous portrayal of the eponymous heroine herself. Then Dorati sweeps you along in the first movement with a continuous forward momentum and a sweeping passion. The momentum is maintained during the Kalendar Prince movement, especially with the confidently-played wind solos (listen out for the blazing sound of the brass and the rounded tones of the oboe and clarinet here). Dorati's third movement may sound measured (and a slightly brisker speed would have been nice here to give it more lilt), but yet he still allows it to sound ravishing and delicate, complete with the little wind flourishes. Despite its slow speed, Dorati does something that I have rarely known a conductor to do. He brings out the smiling radiance and counterbalances it nicely with a romantic languor. And I think Dorati releases the greatest energy and enthusiasm in the Festival at Baghdad finale. It sounds so energetic, so intense and so lively, with so much forward momentum, but yet it comes out as being crisp and clear, with strong contributions from the full-throated brass and precisely-articulated percussion. The brass and percussion contributions are enough to give Temirkanov's New York players a run for their money. The shipwreck section kicks up a real ruckus, and the tam-tam stroke is really overwhelming, until it dies away into the serene conclusion, when the quiet calm of Shahrazad is reconciled with the Sultan.

Although I have known this recording to sound wonderful on CD, I have a reservation about the couplings. It so happened that the CD producers illogically coupled Shrhrazad to Dorati's other recordings of symphonic poems, consisting of Smetana's Moldau, Sibelius's Valse Triste and Liszt's Les Preludes. These three symphonic poems do not share the same mood as Shrhrazad, and ultimately disrupt the listening experience. I honestly think that it would have made more sense if the CD producers would have coupled this to the Dorati/Mercury versions of the Cappricio Espagnol and the Russian Easter Festival Overture, for a more sensible listening experience. Maybe it would have been good to add the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's Prince Igor and also the Persian Slave Dance from Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina, as Rimsky-Korsakov had a hand at orchestrating these two oriental dances in these operas. Sometimes I wish that Dorati had recorded Antar for Mercury and it would have nicely complemented this wonderful version of Shahrazad very well.

All-in-all, though, I feel compelled to say that if this Shahrazad was better-known, it would really have been as well-known as the Reiner and Ansermet versions, and even as well known as the Mercury Minneapolis 1812. It has already shamed all my other recordings of Shrharazad because of the raw intensity, the passion and the energetic power that typifies all of Dorati's wonderful Mercury Living Presence recordings of 19th-century Russian music. I daresay it has already toppled Maazel's Decca account with the Cleveland Orchestra, and Myung-whun Chung's DG version, without question. I also feel that it has clearly beaten Temirkanov and Gergiev hands down.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968461d8) out of 5 stars The Scheherazade is great; the other works are disappointing 9 Nov. 2007
By Classic Music Lover - Published on Amazon.com
This recording was one of the early stereo versions of Scheherazade brought out by the record companies, and one of the best. In fact, only the EMI recording with Lovro von Matacic and the Philharmonia Orchestra measures up to the excitement and sheer ardor of this recording, leaving behind such other early stereo efforts as Beecham, Ormandy and Ansermet. I love the way conductor Dorati whips up the Minneapolis Symphony players to give us some really exciting, frenetic moments, especially in the Prince Kalandar and Festival at Baghdad movements. Concertmaster Rafael Druian is mighty fine in the violin solo work, too -- as is the super oboe player who does some really great work with the woodwind solos that are so important to this work -- who is s/he I wonder?

From there on in, unfortunately, the program deteriorates. For some reason, Dorati decides to take both the Les Preludes and the Valse Triste at a very deliberate pace, which practically ruins the flow of the music. Valse Triste is supposed to be sad, of course ... but it's also supposed to be a waltz. The Les Preludes needs some forward momentum to bring it to a satisfying conclusion -- otherwise Liszt's score begins to sound like empty rhetoric.

And with the final selection (Smetana's Moldau), Dorati seems to run out of steam completely. This has got to be the s-l-o-w-e-s-t performance of this score I have ever heard. It's just agonizing to listen to it in this way and at this tempo. It's quite curious, because the conductor waxed this work two other times during his career (on London/Decca and on Philips as part of complete Ma Vlast recordings), and both of those were conducted at the "conventional" tempo. Perhaps Dorati was just having an off-day when he recorded these three works. The London Symphony certainly sounds polished and professional, but laboring under these interpretations, it's just a lost cause.

But definitely get this for the Scheherazade -- it's worth the "price of admission" all on its own.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ba2eef4) out of 5 stars Scheherazade at Flank Speed - Pfui! 22 Jan. 2016
By St. Germain en Laye - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is one of two recordings of Scheherazade I'll never listen to again, and is without exception the most peculiar version I've heard. It's almost as though Dorati stepped up in front of the orchestra, raised his baton, and said "All right, ladies and gentlemen. Let's get this over with." It is performed at a tempo that is beyond brisk. It's so fast that this most wonderful work is denied all nuance and individual expression. The soloists, without exception, are given absolutely no room in which to be interpretive; they just play the notes. To my ears, the violin soloes, praised by another reviewer, actually sound rushed and a bit frenetic.

While there's more to a musical piece than tempo, let me show you what I mean by making a comparison on the times from various conductors.

----------First Movement: Second Movement Third Movement Fourth Movement
Dorati --------- 8:43------------ 10:25 ---------------10:22 ---------------10:43
Mackerras - --9:58 ------ ------11:51 --------------- 10:06--------------- 12:52
Reiner -------- 9:02 ------------11:33 --------------- 11:58--------------- 11:39
Beecham - -10:00 ------------ 12:00 ----------------10:40 --------------- 12:46
Stokowski - --9:33 ------------ 11:19--------------- 11:21 ---------------- 12:00

The Stokowski referenced above is from 1975. He recorded it six times, I think. All the other versions are, to my ears, infinitely more expressive and interesting than the Indianapolis 500 version by Dorati. Reiner's has narrowly been called "the" version to have, closely followed by Beecham's. Both give their soloists the time and space in which to shine.

Like I said, there's more to a piece than just a "tale of the tape", but I think my point is clear. This Scheherazade, compared to many others, is simply rushed to the point at which all possible pleasure, for me, is lost. As soon as I finished listening to it, I put on a different version to try to erase this from my musical memory.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96427e1c) out of 5 stars Old-fashioned brass, dead room 7 May 2007
By K. Bourassa - Published on Amazon.com
The interpretation here is great, Mr. Dorati is a fabulous conductor and the interpretations on all of the pieces are dynamite. The sound quality is good (its a mercury living presence release), though I must say it sounds like they recorded in a dead studio room. Also, the brass playing is very loud and blasting, without very good tone quality or any taste. If you are looking for an older recording or Scheherazade, I would look at the Reiner/Chicago Symphony recording. It is also very cheap!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95e7f960) out of 5 stars Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, etc. / Dorati 5 Stars 22 Jun. 2013
By bigmoe1931 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I have a copy in plastic that I purchased in 1959 and this Disc is great I love it!
I give it five stars
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