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Tchaikovsky: 1812 Festival Overture, Capriccio Italien / Beethoven: Wellington's Victory CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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It's hard to believe that this, the BEST EVER 1812 Overture was not only recorded in the 1950s, but it still sounds better than any other version. This last fact is a tribute to the remastering expertise of producer Wilma Cozart Fine, and a still greater tribute to her late husband, a recording genius, for leaving her with such fantastic quality original tapes to work with. If you want real cannon, the sound of a zillion bells, and a really sensational brass band, all perfectly blended together to produce the ultimate in audio spectacle, then baby this one's for you. Wellington is, if anything, even noisier--though a lot less valuable musically. Still, it's the only logical coupling, and every single cannon blast and musket shot comes over with thrilling immediacy. What a disc! --David Hurwitz
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Product Details

  • Performer: Deems Taylor
  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Antal Dorati
  • Composer: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (November 14, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Mercury Living Presence
  • ASIN: B0000057MW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,463 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mike Powers TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 16, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is the most extraordinary version of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" I've ever heard! Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the "1812 Overture" in 1880 to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812. This recording was made in 1958. The playing of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and the University of Minnesota Brass Band, under the direction of Antal Dorati, is fantastic. At their hands, the music is passionate, exuberant, and breathtaking. In addition, a real French cannon (cast in 1775, and now owned by the U.S. Military Academy) and a real cathedral carillon were used instead of bells and percussion instruments.

Dorati conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in its 1960 recording of "Wellington's Victory," composed by Ludwig van Beethoven to commemorate the Duke of Wellington's victory over King Joseph Bonaparte at the battle of Vitoria in Spain, in 1813. Again, actual cannon and muskets from that era were used instead of percussion instruments. The effect is no less brilliant than the "1812 Overture." Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien" is also superbly played by the London Symphony Orchestra. The CD sound quality throughout is outstanding -- so good, in fact, it's hard to believe these recordings were originally mastered over 40 years ago!

Also included are two tracks containing spoken commentary by Deems Taylor, a noted musicologist. His explanation of how the recordings of the "1812 Overture" and "Wellington's Victory" were made is very interesting. Unfortunately, these tracks are interspersed with the music, so if you don't want to listen to them, you have to program them out or manually skip them. I would have preferred to see the commentary either at the end of the disc, or on a seperate disc altogether. That, however, is only a minor shortcoming.

This is an essential CD for any classical music lover. It is an exciting, dynamic, and thrilling listening experience!
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Format: Audio CD
This recording by the Mercury Living Presence label is undoubtedly, definitively, the ultimate 1812 Overture, simply the greatest. There are many fine interpretations of the legendary 1812 Overture, composed by Tchaikovsky, and used ad nauseum during 4th of July celebrations and in concert, but this particular orchestration at the hands of the eminent conductor Antal Dorati is the best. As an added bonus, the digitally remastered late 50's LP recording features spoken commentary by Deems Taylor and behind-the-scenes information on the making of the recording. Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Orchestra outdid themselves with a vivid orchestration of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. It sounds graphic, springing to life with frenzied strings and the charming Marseilles theme, at variance with the Russian national anthem. It is true battle music, a musical dramatization of the war between Russia and Napoleon's forces in 1812. The conclusion has been used in films, commercials, cellular phones, radio and in live concerts with fireworks during the 4th of July. It is the victory theme. For a dramatic touch, cannon and bells were used for this final section. Deems Taylor tells us how on a sunny morning in the late 50's, a team got together at West Point Academy and rehearsed for the recording time and again to get the perfect sound. They used a 1775 bronze cannon from Douay France, an actual cannon that was fired in Napoleonic wars. The clamor of the bells that herald victory were used by permission of the Bells of Laura Spelman, Rockefeller Memorial Carillon of Riverside Church.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
This classic, enduring reading of the Festival Overture '1812' and 'Wellington's Victory' is stunning, meticulously researched, and yes, extremely LOUD! The music is powerful, well-performed, and truly captures the spirit of all three pieces. In the end, however, the stars of the show are the Bells of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon and, of course, the artillery and muskets as authentically realized in both battle pieces. The producers of this landmark LP and disc went as far as to use original, extant artillery pieces that date from the periods which inspired both '1812' and 'Wellington's Victory.' The recordings of the artillery are, in a word, INCREDIBLE! Unlike many versions of '1812,' where the cannons can sound underpowered (Naxos with Leaper) or way too pristine (Telarc with Kunzel), the Mercury engineers capture them in their authentic glory, holding nothing back. The Bells of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon, however, totally steal the show at the end of '1812,' overwhelming the Minneapolis (now Minnesota) Symphony Orchestra, the University of Minnesota Brass Band, and the cannon itself, in a glorious, triumphant storm of sound.
Oh, by the way, the reading of the Capriccio Italien is excellent as well ;).
Deems Taylor's commentary is informative and very interesting, and gives an added appreciation for this disc when one considers the extremes to which performers, producers, and engineers went to put us, the lucky listeners, on the 'front line,' as it were. The winner of no less than TWO Penguin Guide Rosette Awards, this Mercury disc is truly the greatest of the greatest of them all. You absolutely do not want to miss this one!
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