RIMSKY-KORSAKOV:  Symphony No. 2, Op. 9 "Antar."  BEETHOVEN:  Wellington's Victory Symphony, Op. 91 "Battle Symphony."  TCHAIKOVSKY:  1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Chicago Symphony Orch ("Antar")/Orch/Band/Morton Gould, cond.

REDISCOVERY RD 013 (M) (ADD) TT:  62:03

The enterprising ReDiscovery label continues its series  resurrecting intriguing recordings of the past that have been neglected by major companies.   Why RCA never issued on CD Morton Gould's 1968 Chicago Symphony  recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Antar" is a mystery. Originally issued on LP (LSC 3022, oddly coupled with Miaskovsky's Symphony No. 21 recorded at the same time), from a sonic standpoint it is one of the most successful recordings made in Chicago's Medinah Temple, with fine stereo spread and rich orchestral textures, the only debit being a lack of impact in the bass drum so important in the third movement, "The Pleasure of Power."  The finest performance ever of this symphony is the mid-fifties mono recording with Hermann Scherchen and the London Symphony briefly available on Nixa (NIXCD 6021) in a fine remastering by Michael Dutton.  Scherchen brought a passion and intensity to this music unheard elsewhere.  However, Gould's performance is equal to others currently available, with the CSO in top form.  This transfer is from a mint-condition LP.

RCA made the first stereo recording of Beethoven's Wellington's Victory symphony taking full advantage of "ping-pong" possibilities not only in the battle sequences but for the approaching regiments as well.  In spite of being recorded in New York's resonant Manhattan Center, engineers have provided fine definition,  sizzling high frequencies in the artillery sounds,  the countless cannon shots effective although lacking digital impact to be heard on later recordings.  Gould keeps things moving, and the hand-picked orchestra plays very well indeed.  The original LP (RCA LSC 2433) also contained GrofÈ
's Grand Canyon SuiteThis ReDiscovery transfer is from an RCA open-reel tape which has only occasional touches of distortion.

Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, also from an open-reel tape, is a natural coupling and again we have a spirited performance from Gould and his orchestra.  Bells and canon shots are   electronically generated, the latter again lacking the overpowering impact of the true thing heard on so many digital recordings, but effective in their own way.  The performance is on a grand scale.  The music has three tracks for ease in finding what you want to hear.  Play track three (mistimed in the CD leaflet:  it is 3:44 not 6:59)  if you wish to hear just the lease-breaking finale.  The original RCA LP (LSC 2345) also contained Ravel's BolÈro.

Minimal notes, home-made production and a hand-written CD label, but it doesn't matter. A welcome addition to the catalog, available from ReDiscover Classics.

R.E.B. (Oct. 2000)