RCA has a vast and incredible library of classical music recordings, particularly in its LIVING STEREO series, and over the years has re-released some of its great titles. One of the more popular and enduring recordings in this series is Fritz Reiner's recording of Dvorak's Ninth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. People familiar with the LP version will instantly recognize it distinctive cover with a photograph of the Statue of Liberty, the same monument which would have greeted Dvorak when he first visited the United States and where he was inspired to write this great work.
The showpiece of the recording is Dvorak's 9th. Recorded in 1957, the orchestra has a hearty sound. Both Reiner and the orchestra seem familiar with the work. Reiner moves the work along, and is particularly vigorous in his conducting of the fourth movement, which may not be to everyone's liking, but works well with this recording. The CD also contains three other works that are in keeping with Dvorak's 9th. Two are overtures: a robust version of Dvorak's "Carnival Overture," and a lively recording of Smetena's overture to "The Bartered Bride." The third piece is Weinberger's Polka and Fugue from "Schwanda the Bagpiper." Interestingly, while he conducts the Dvorak's pieces with energy, the Weinberger piece is conducted a bit slower than other recordings of the work.
One bonus of the re-release of the "Living Stereo" recordings is that they contain the original liner notes from the LP. Since this CD is a compilation from two different LP's, the liner notes from both are included in this set. RCA has not re-released as many of the titles as they promised ten years ago when they first opened the vaults. Let's hope some of the other great titles will be released in the near future.