Friday, July 6, 2012

Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountain; Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé Suite; Stravinsky: The Fairy's Kiss

According to most Hovhanophiles, the first and best recording of the work. From his Chicago players, Reiner conjures up a majestic peak, glistening water streams and a serene state of mind. Although he takes a few liberties with the score (such as a daringly fast second fugue), his lush and effervescent reading works magnificently and has become the work's definitive performance; one Amazon reviewer put it thus: "This recording is transcendent ... the title of the piece is MYSTERIOUS Mountain, and on this recording that is precisely what we get".

Hovhaness was little-known when this high profile recording appeared, which may have been in response to consistently laudatory concert reviews, such as those in Cleveland just 4 months previously, which probably added to the initial buzz begun by Stokowski's performances. Hovhaness apparently knew nothing of this release until its appearance in record stores, coupled with Stravinsky's ballet The Fairy's Kiss, which was programmed on the B-side. Thus RCA definitely saw the Hovhaness work as the main attraction, even commissioning special mountain cover artwork from Robert M. Jones.

RCA made a faithful transfer to CD for the re-issue. Re-mastering was apparently handled by John Pfeiffer, the engineer on the original 1958 recording, and the tape master was transferred from the original analog recording equipment, which had to be somewhat rebuilt. Tape hiss remains audible on the digital reissue, no doubt a decision to avoid all 'post-transfer' noise reduction so as to preserve as much of the original performance detail as possible. But such is the strength of Reiner's 1958 reading that it has held its own against all later digital-era recordings.

MP3 320 · 138 MB

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