PROKOFIEV: Lt. Kijé Suite, Op. 60. STRAVINSKY: Song of the Nightingale
Chicago Symphony Orch/Fritz Reiner, cond.
JVC JM-XR24026 (F) (ADD) TT: 42:50

JOHANN STRAUSS II: Morning Papers, Op. 279. Emperor Waltz, Op. 437. On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op. 314. WEBER: Invitation to the Dance. JOSEF STRAUSS: Village Swallows, Op. 164. RICHARD STRAUSS: Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier.
Chicago Symphony Orch/Fritz Reiner, cond.
JVC JM-XR24025 (F) (ADD) TT: 49:19

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8 in B minor "Unfinished."
Boston Symphony Orch/Charles Munch, cond.
JVC JM-XR24027 (F) (ADD) TT: 55:59

MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90 "Italian." Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 107 "Reformation."
Boston Symphony Orch/Charles Munch, cond.
JVC JM-XR24028 (F) (ADD) TT: 53:52

The latest batch of JVC reissues contains some sonic classics—the two Reiner albums—and two Munch/Boston Symphony reissues that seem rather ill-suited for audiophile release. On both of the latter, the music itself isn't of the hi-fi display category, and the recorded sound unexceptional. Lt. Kijé was recorded March 2, 1957, Nightingale November 3, 1956. Both are magnificent performances superbly recorded. Producer Richard Mohr and engineer Lewis Layton have splendidly captured the rich sound of Chicago's Orchestra Hall pre-renovation. Placement of instruments is perfect, low bass is remarkable, the sense of presence extraordinary. The same sound quality marks the collection called Vienna, recorded April 15/16, 1957. All of these famous recordings have never sounded better and will delight audiophiles.

Munch's Boston Symphony recordings are another matter. While many of RCA's recordings with this conductor and orchestra are sonic showpieces (Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, Berlioz Requiem), these Mendelssohn recordings made October 28, 1957 (No. 5) and February 18, 1958 (No. 4) have thin string sound and a recessed sonic picture. The Beethoven, recorded May 2, 1955, is richer sonically but the French sound of the BSO really isn't right for this music. According to CD notes, the Schubert was recorded the same day (a very full day spent before the microhones!), and also has sound superior to the Mendelssohn recordings made several years later. As with all JVC releases lately, CD notes are entirely in Japanese, but packaging is luxurious.

R.E.B. (June 2005)