Top critical review
Most definitely NOT "golden age stereo" - too early - for collectors of vintage recordings only.
on 18 March 2017
Whatever the hype, this is, in terms of acceptable sound quality, quite off the mark and very much is of its vintage 1954. Despite good Left and Right stereo imaging, which must have wowed listeners and reviewers on its first release on tape, there is little depth in the recording.
The strings have brushed up quite well, but the quality of the other instruments, especially the woodwinds, is very poor - and given that this music is all about Berlioz's skill and innovations as an orchestrator and "painter" of musical scenes - amounts to a big minus against this as part of a Berlioz or orchestral collection.
Followers of the RCA Living Stereo line, Munch, or this orchestra or very early stereo recordings will want this regardless.
But for everybody else and those looking for a real golden age stereo recording would be better off spending their cash on...
Goossens/LSO Everest/Vanguard transferred via 20 BIT SBM from the original 35mm masters (a DVD-Audio+CD 2 disc package with three channel reproduction of the original masters included as an option as well as 2 channel stereo in HD is available from Classic Records) 1960. Note the tremendous bandwith and clarity from the 35mm medium with a very satisfying thump on the lowest notes.
Paray/Detroit SO Mercury Living Presence - a scintillating performance vividly captured by Robert Fine utilizing the same basic three channel technique and half inch magnetic tape decks as RCA, but to better effect, resulting in a demonstration recording. This is a well-filled Berlioz disc with some of his best music. 1959 and boy Paray seems to be conducting with turbo assistance! Is there a more effectively played or recorded "A Ball" (Waltz, Second Mvt.) on record? As a performance this is one of the best.
Davis/LSO Philips The performance is somewhat muted and cool, perhaps "careful", but the soundstage and stylish playing is wonderfully captured by the Philips team with all parts of the orchestra clearly presented. The low strings are wonderful. We are still fully in the golden age in 1965 though transistors are beginning to raise their ugly head in the recording chain.
Any of the above represent a better listening experience and offer more musical excitement than this past-its-sell-by-date RCA offering dressed up like old wine in a new bottle.