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Re: Sound is top tier; excellent performance

Well, I like Bruno Walters’ performance (I think with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra) better than I like the Reiner. In fact, I also like Dorati, Kubelik, Toscanini, etc., as much if not more than the Reiner. (Not to mention my dbx recording of Enrique Batiz with the London Philharmonic) For sure, it is a testament to these great conductors and their orchestras that we continually reach back 50-60 years to find a great performance of specific works. I will always appreciate the singular greatness and uniqueness of there work. I will always appreciate the ‘57 Chevy. But Reiner and his contemporaries have got to roll over (and tell Tchaikovsky the news).

Weekend before last I attended a performance of “Shererazade”. At the end of the performance the audience, including yours truly, responded with a heartfelt standing ovation. (In fact, there was a smattering of applause at the end of the first movement-I did not participate in that :). While I will never have an opportunity to hear a recording of that performance I can say with a fair amount of certainty that it was not a *great* performance. It was probably a straightforward, good performance at best. But you’d be hard pressed to find an attendee, most whom seemed quite familiar with this warhorse, who did not think the performance was quintessential. So why did the audience go ga ga over a performance that was competent but not exceptional performance? I would say it’s because we were *there*. We had a special appreciation for the performance, the visuals, and for the sound. And the performance had a great finish.

Likewise, I sure many of us have heard live recordings in which you are startled at the end with a thunderous applause. At times I’ve said to myself, the performance was OK or even good, but it was not *that* good. What got lost in the translation that made the audience so much more impressed than I was (or professionally paid record critics for that matter)? Well, the audience was there, I wasn’t. The Eschenbach/Philadelphia Saint-Saens performance on Ondine may fit this mold where you have a more than OK, though not great performance (as suggested by the early returns), with a flawed 3rd section, but a stupendous finish.

So what does this have to do with Telarc? In the past few years, a few misses not withstanding, Telarc recordings most *consistently*, among recordings in my collection, are successful in transporting the listener to *there* to the concert hall at the time of the performance. The Jarvi 9th, I believe, does this so much more successfully than the 50 year old Reiner recording could ever hope to do. As you say the Reiner recording “sounds a little ragged”. This continually reminds the listener that she/he is listening to a recording and less so a performance before you. On the other hand with the Jarvi Dvorak 9th there are far “less dots to connect” to complete a lifelike portrait of the performance. You are more apt to believe you are there.

From a scholarly perspective the Reiner performance may be superior, (but behind Walter for me). But I don’t find the Jarvi Dvorak 9th to be a slouch. On the contrary, I find it to be a very good to excellent performance and coupled with the sound quality that I agree with you is “beautiful and quite spectacular”, is far more reminecent of a live performance, particularly in multi-channel, and will find far more playing time in my home than Reiner, although he, too get’s his spins. And regarding the Largo, in my comments on SA-CD.net I specifically noted that it was a full two minutes longer than what I was use to. Yes, I would have like it a bit faster, but it nonetheless tightly constructed and in no way spoils the performance for me.

One of these days perhaps we will have a *great* Dvorak 9th in a modern recording, but until then most of the 9ths that you/we have purchased in the 50 years since Reiner probably have a vaulable place in our collections. For me I view the Jarvi Dvorak 9th as excellent in terms of performance and sound, and among modern recorded performances far outstrips the the Fischer/Budapest recording on Philips, and is at the top of the “New World” heap in my collection.

Robert C. Lang

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