HOLST: The Planets, Op. 32.
Female voices of the Los Angeles Master Chorale; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orch/Zubin Mehta. cond.
JVC JVCXR 0228-2 (F) (ADD) TT: 49:26

SARASATE: Carmen Fantaisie, Op. 25. Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 No. 1. SAINT-SAËNS: Havanaise, Op. 83. Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 23.
Ruggiero Ricci, violinist; London Symphony Orch/Pierino Gamba, cond.
JVC JVCXR- 0227-2 (F) (ADD) TT: 38:39

ROSSINI: Overtures to The Thieving Magpie, The Silken Ladder, The Barber of Seville, Semiramide and William Tell.
London Symphony Orch/Pierino Gamba, cond.
JVC JVCXR 0229-2 (F) (ADD) TT: 44:29

Here are the three latest issues in JVC's reprocessings of famous sonic spectaculars from analog days, and they do not disappoint except, as usual, in playing time. We have here what was on the original LPs, and as you can see from timings above, you don't get much music per dollar, and a lot of dollars are involved. However, audio buffs doubtless will find these very appealing. The Planets was recorded in April 1971 in Boyce Hall at the University of California with, as described by commentator Michael Gray, "an amazing array of nearly thirty microphones through Decca's custom-built STORM mixers directly to two-track Studer A-62 tape machines." James Mordler was producer with engineers JamesLock and Colin Moorfoot. They did their work very well. The Planets is scored for a very large orchestra including organ, and the sonic picture on this recording is solid and defined with plenty of impact.

Conductor Pierino Gamba, whose career started with a bang but was rather slow to develop, leads brilliant performances of the five Rossini overtures and the violin collection which features Ruggiero Ricci, both recorded in the warm acoustics of Kingsway Hall, The latter was recorded in September 1959, the Rossini overtures in November 1960. Ricci was then at the beginning of his spectacular career (he is still performing and recording over four decades later), and gives brilliant, imaginative performances of these violinistic showpieces. Gamba always was a dynamic conductor and these performances of the Rossini overtures have plenty of sparkle and drive. The Ricci recordings were produced by James Walker with Alan Reeve and J. Timms as engineers; Ray Minshull produced the Rossini overtures with the famed Kenneth Wilkinson as "balance engineer." Both of these were superb recordings when originally issued and sound even more defined now—and it's easy to tell Ricci had a separate microphone—he is very close. Each disk includes a reproduction of the original LP jacket, absolutely useless except for historic value; unless you have a magnifying glass, it is impossible to read.

R.E.B.(April 2005)