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!