TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. MOZART: Symphony No. 34 in C, K. 338
Chicago Symphony Orch/Rafael Kubelik, cond.
SOUND DYNAMICS SDA 2003-126 (mono) (M) TT: 64:24

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathetique." BLOCH: Concerto Grosso No. 1 for String Orchestra with Piano Obbligato
Chicago Symphony Orch/Rafael Kubelik, cond.
SOUND DYNAMICS SDA 2003-221 (mono) (M) TT: 64:30

SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 9 in C, D. 944 "Great." BRAHMS: Tragic Overture, Op. 81. Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80.
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Eduard van Beinum, cond.
SOUND DYNAMICS SDA 2003-114 (mono) (M) TT: 71:02

Here are three major reissues. Rafael Kubelik's tenure in Chicago was a difficult time for the conductor. In spite of his first-class music-making, he was the target of Chicago Tribune critic Claudia Cassidy whose unjustified displeasure with Kubelik was obvious from every scathing review. It was an impossible situation for anyone taking over leadership of the CSO after the stormy departure of Artur Rodzinski, who always enjoyed (and rightfully so) the vitriolic critic's glowing praise. These are superb performances recorded 1951 towards the end of the Czech conductor's first season with the CSO (Tchaikovsky Four/Bloch), and 1952 (Tchaikovsky Six/Mozart) Mercury had just started their remarkable series of CSO recordings that began with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, a disk that amazed audiophiles for its balance, dynamic range and rich orchestral textures—in addition to the splendid performance. Pictures, inexplicably, is not currently available but a few of the early Kubelik's are: Dvorak's New World (1953) coupled with Mozart's Symphony No. 38 (1951)(Mercury Living Presence 434387), Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra (1954) coupled with Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorpohosis (1953)(434397), and Smetana's Ma Vlast (1952)(434379).

All recorded with Mercury's single microphone process. We hear the sound of a big orchestra playing in an acoustically perfect hall, Chicago's Orchestra Hall before the misguided changes in the concert hall in 1966 during Jean Martinon's regime.

All Van Beinum collectors will wish to have this issue of a live 1950 performance of Schubert's Great C-major symphony, a vital interpretation issued several years ago on Audio Classics. However, on the Sound Dynamics issue the original recording has been improved and, through SD's expertise, the brief missing portion of the first movement (heard at 3:30 into track one of the Audiophile Classics CD) has been restored. We also have Beinum's first recordings of the two Brahms overtures from Decca sessions in November-December 1952, with the usual quality transfers we have come to expect from Sound Dynamics.

All three are highly recommended, even more attractive because of their modest price. To order, and to see a list of other SD releases, go to this website:

R.E.B. (November 2003)