LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. ENESCO: Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1. SMETANA: The Moldau. SMETANA: The Bartered Bride Overture.
RCA Victor Symphony Orch/Leopold Stokowski, cond.
JVC JM-XR24019 TT: 40:11

VERDI: Grand March from Aida. HERBERT: March of the Toys. SOUSA: Semper Fidelis. TCHAIKOVSKY: Miniature March from Suite No. 1. MORSE: Up the Street. BERLIOZ: Rakoczy March from The Damnation of Faust. WILLSON: 76 Trombones from The Music Man. IPPOLITOV-IVANOV: March of the Sardar from Caucasian Sketches. PLANQUETTE: Sambre et Meuse. BEETHOVEN: Turkish March from The Ruins of Athens. ALFORD: Colonel Bogey March. EMMETT: Dixie. GOULD: American Salute. GERSHWIN: Strike Up the Band. TRAD: Yankee Doodle.
Boston "Pops" Orch/Arthur Fiedler, cond.
JVC JM-XR24020 TT: 44:48

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Sonata No. 22 in F, Op. 54.
Sviatoslav Richter, pianist; Boston Symphony Orch/Charles Munch, cond.
JVC JM-XR24018 TT: 48:07

BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 12 in A flat, Op. 26 "Funeral March." Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata."
Sviatoslav Richter, pianist.
JVC JM-XR24017 TT: 42:20

Here are the four latest JVC classical releases all in xrcd Japanese remastering, a rather mixed bag with some fascinating performances. Leopold Stokowski's collection was recorded in New York's Manhattan Center February 7 and 18, 1960, produced by Peter Delheim with Robert Simpson as engineer. Both did a spectacular job in taming the excessive resonance of the Center; this is big, bold, rich sound and the remastering brings more clarity and zing to the performances than the RCA Living Stereo release (LSC 61503) which also included another 35 minutes of Wagner recorded a year later. It's odd that the final chord of Enesco's Rhapsody is missing, as it was on previous releases—could this have been an editing error from the original tapes? Arthur Fiedler's march collection offers lively performances of generally familiar fare, but this recording never was a sonic showcase. A rather tinny sound quality prevails, with dull cymbals and not much low bass—although the bass drum in the Berlioz march is rather impressive. These recordings were made May 15-16, 1958 in Symphony Hall. About the same time Mercury was recording some of this repertory with Frederick Fennell and the Eastman Wind Ensemble and getting better sonic results.

Pianist Sviatoslav Richter, who died in 1997 at the age of 82, made his heralded American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing the Brahms Concerto No. 2 with Erich Leinsdorf conducting; a fine recording was made October 17 (recently reissued at mid-price on RCA - see REVIEW). Shortly afterwards, Richter made this recording of Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 in Boston—a dazzling performance with a particularly vivacious finale. The JVC release also includes the Sonata No. 22, one of several other RCA recordings made during the same time period. It's surprising that there is an audible hum in the right channel for a good part of the first movement of the concerto. This is not heard on the RCA CD release in their Papillon Collection series (6804) which also contains, in addition to the concerto and Sonata No. 22, the Sonata, Op. 26. You'll find that on the other JVC release, coupled with the Sonata No. 23, both recordings made in November 1960. Superb piano sound by any standards—and no hum.

R.E.B. (Octoberr 2004)