C1866. FRITZ REINER Cond.Chicago Orch.: Don Juan; w.ANTONIO JANIGRO. MILTON PREVES & JOHN WEICHER: Don Quixote (both Strauss). RCA Living Stereo 68170, recorded 1954 & 1959. Final Copy! - 090266817023
“Fritz Reiner’s posthumous reputation is such that my enthusiastic recommendation for this well-packed reissue is probably superfluous. But even now there is I think a sense in which the disc brings together two sides of Reiner’s music-making. The DON JUAN, recorded as early as December 1954, is one of the most exciting of all time, racing panther-like from the opening gestures, lush and self-consciously espressivo in the sweeping string theme. The hushed playing is as exquisite as contemporary technology would permit.…the DON QUIXOTE, made in April 1959 during Antonio Janigro’s American debut, and recorded with astonishing fidelity using a different orchestral set-up (without divided violins). Anyone familiar with Janigro’s subsequent work as conductor of I Solisti di Zagreb may be unprepared for the marvellous poise and flair of his cello playing here. And who could think Reiner a cold fish after hearing his glorious treatment of the soaring climax. The balance is generally excellent with the exception of some backward woodwind and a reluctant resort to true pianissimo; the cello is more discreetly located than in most subsequent recordings. As so often in this revelatory series, the transfers have been carefully handled, drying out the sound just enough to maximize inner detail but retaining all the distinctive bloom of the venue. This is disciplined yet red-blooded music-making of a kind in short supply these days. Strongly recommended.”
- GRAMOPHONE, June, 1997
“More Reiner gems brought to life, heard for the first time in the home exactly as originally recorded (in l959 and 1962 in these cases). Both works constitute some of Strauss’ most successful orchestral compositions, and the widened and deepened soundstage….When the long orchestral introduction of QUIXOTE is over and Janigro’s solo cello is heard for the first time in the work, it’s dead center with a palpable presence that is seldom obtained….Janigro’s instrument has a rich golden sound which is heard to best advantage in the several passages where the orchestra remains in the background or not playing at all. His tone is much smoother than any of the Casals recordings, but then Casals didn’t benefit from the Living Stereo sonic approach. I’ve always smiled at the ‘Battle with the Sheep’ section; Strauss really imitates the sounds perfectly in the orchestra, and they seem more real here than any other recorded version I’ve heard.
Don Juan has long been my favorite R. Strauss piece….The Don’s ardor is greatly ramped up in this brilliant, white-hot picture of the famous lothario, bursting with braggadocio. (I have not only the Classic Records vinyl reissue of this but also an original two-track RCA prerecorded open reel tape of it and neither quite match the SACD as far as I’m concerned.) The soaring, heroic horn section comes thru loud and clear, and having the higher strings on both sides of the soundstage seems to envelop the listener more completely.”
– John Sunier, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, 14 Feb., 2007