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Kubelik Conducts Box set

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4 used from CDN$ 98.27

Product Details

  • Audio CD (Aug. 2 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000A5DLPQ
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #274,493 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc: 1
1. I. Adagio-Allegro
2. II. Andante
3. III. Presto
4. I. Adagio-Allegro Molto
5. II. Largo
See all 7 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. The High Castle
2. The Moldau
3. Sarka
4. From Bohemia's Meadows And Forests
5. Tabor
See all 6 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Promenade
2. Gnomus
3. Promenade
4. Il Vecchio Castello
5. Promenade
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. I. Allegro
2. II. Turandot: Scherzo
3. III. Andantino
4. IV. Marsch
5. I. Premonitions
See all 11 tracks on this disc

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f474384) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fca44a4) out of 5 stars Kubelik's Classic MLP Recordings Are Back! Sept. 13 2005
By Michael Brad Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Those familiar with my reviews on Amazon know of my great love for the Mercury Living Presence series. Equally great is my disgust that so many of these brilliant recordings have been deleted in the last few years! Thankfully, some of these legendary performances are resurfacing, and while the single disc titles are unfortunately listed at full-price, it is wonderful to see the various multi-disc sets basically being sold at budget line. With this 4CD reissue, Rafael Kubelik's legendary recordings with the Chicago Symphony are restored to the catalog, as only his 1952 rendition of Smetana's "Ma Vlast" was currently in print. (Please note that the performances of Kodaly's "Peacock Variations" and Bartok's "Miraculous Mandarin" Suite are with Antal Dorati leading the same orchestra.) To illustrate how prized these recordings are by collectors, the extremely rare original CD issue coupling the Moussorgsky/Ravel "Pictures at an Exhibition" with Bartok's "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta" has been known to fetch twice the price in the Amazon Marketplace of this new set! Buying this collection for the Pictures performance alone is worthwhile, as it was the recording that led a critic to coin the phrase "Living Presence," from which Mercury named its series. Of course getting memorable accounts of Dvorak's 9th and Mozart's 38th Symphonies, Hindemith's "Symphonic Metamorphosis" and Schoenberg's Five Pieces, Op. 16 is just icing on the cake. Once again, Mercury Living Presence lives!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0205888) out of 5 stars Truly Trail Blazing Performances and Recordings Feb. 23 2008
By David Schwan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In April, 1951, Mercury Records began an ambitious series of recordings with the Chicago Symphony and its then-relatively new Music Director, the young Rafael Kubelik. In his mid-30s, Kubelik had high hopes for his new job, giving performances of the standard repertoire, but also championing new pieces. In his brief stay in Chicago (1950-1953) he gave 60 premieres! But for numerous reasons, all of which disheartening, Kubelik left and went back to Europe. However, he returned many times to guest conduct in Chicago, always greeted with enthusiasm and sparkling reviews, which one might say, gives the Kubelik/CSO story a happy ending.

But back to these recordings, made between 1951 and 1954. These are the treasured Mercury mono releases, all made with a single microphone and transferred to CD from the original master tapes. Yes, they may not hold up technically to recordings made in later years, but don't let that OR the fact that they're in mono keep you from getting this set. The well-balanced and focused sound (in most places) makes the fact that they're in mono a non-issue. As for the performances, I give them all high marks, particularly the "Pictures at an Exhibition" (although certain tempi may be too fast for some) and the Hindemith "Symphonic Metamorphosis," one of THE best ever recorded. The Bartok "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta" and the Schoenberg "Five Pieces" are truly ground-breaking, the Bartok being recorded in 1951, roughly six years after the composer's death. It doesn't have the intensity of Reiner's CSO recording, but it is worthy of repeated hearings.

Antal Dorati came in early 1954 after Kubelik's departure to finish out Mercury's contract with the orchestra. His vivid, enthusiastic performances of the Kodaly "Peacock Variations" and Bartok's suite from "The Miraculous Mandarin" (music he had in his blood from Day One) happily are included here.

While more and more Mercury recordings are disappearing, it's great to see this set still available. It should definitely be in any serious-minded listener's collection, if for no reason other than its historic significance.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fc43654) out of 5 stars A nice collection of performances, but mixed sonics from 50 years ago May 31 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Audiophiles adore the Mercury Living Presence series issued throughout the early Fifties and Sixties, but for those of us who aren't specialty collectors, it's pretty clear that not evreything on MLP is a gem. This valuable colleciton (mono only) from the doomed tenure of Rafael Kubelik with the Chicago Sym.--he lasted only a few years before the local critic's stinging rebukes sent Kubelik packing in favor of Fritz Reiner--deserves detailed appraisal.

CD 1: Kubelik was a lively, stylish Mozartean, and this 1953 Sym. #38 is quite lovely. It's more streamlined than Walter's recordings of the "Prague," but cut form the same affectionate cloth. The recording, however, is thin and shrill. I found it uncomfortable to listen to except at low volume.

Kubelik recorded Dvorak's "New World" musltiple times; this Chicago reading dates from 1951 and is caught in sharp mono sonics with a bit too much stinging treble for my ears. Even so, there are those who think this lively, rather lean performance is one of Kubelik's best. I'm not sure that it's so special that one should do without stereo, but the choice is personal. The CSO plays superbly, and the general contour of the interpretation is straightforward.

CD 2 is entirely given over to Smetana's Ma Vlast, another Kubelik specialty that he recorded multiple times. This 1952 recording sounds identical to the Dvorak on CD 1--a deep soundstage with lots of dynamic range. The interpretation is essentially moderate and unexaggerated. It's certainly stylish and has real sweep, too. In terms of dramatic impact CD 2 is far ahead of CD 1.

CD 3: Curiously, there are audiophile purists who insist that the Golden Age of 50's mono produced better sound than any current digital recording. If that's a viable position (few outside the cult agree), the works on this CD are prime evidence. Kubelik's Pictures at an Exhibition and Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta were recorded in the spring of 1951. They are vivid and colorful, with tangy wind choirs and plenty of dynamic impact. Kubelik proves a restless, almost nervous interpreter of the Mussorgsky, which refreshes this warhose. Neither the recording nor the CSO's playing really matches the later, legendary RCA performance under Reiner, but Kubelik's reading has more sinew and rhythmic spring to it. He brings the same qualities to the Bartok, which gets a wiry "modernist" interpretation that's very appealing, less offical-sounding than the famous Reiner account.

CD 4: At the start of this CD we are back to the thin sound of CD 1 (both were recorded in 1953 with the same Telefunken 201 micropone). For some reason, however, this disc can be played at louder volume without treble sting. Kubelik's Hindemith Symphonic Meatmorphoses is lean and propulsive. This is a refreshing take, but without gorgeous stereo sound the coloristic aspects of this showpiece can't be fully apreciated.

Being too much of a modernist was a prime factor in getting Kubelik fired, which is all the more unfair because his Schoenberg Five Pieces for Orchestra is a standout, almost the performance of a lifetime. I hope somebody in the conservative Chicago audience appreciated how seductive and witty this performance was; if Schoenerg's masterpiece has ever sounded more like Daphnis and Chloe, I don't know when.

The last two works were recorded in 1954 under Antal Dorait, and the sound remains a bit shrieky. But the itnerpretations of Kodaly's Peacock Variations and Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin Suite are excellent, full of energy and fierceness in the Bartok, making it as scary as the composer intended. Playing the shrill mono recording at full volume is impossibly masochistic on the ears, but the reading is terrific.

Chicago was lucky--they exchanged a near-great conductor for a great one in Fritz Reiner. Mercury, however, lost the best conductor it would ever have, moving on to Dorati and Paray and more audiophile cult delights.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb48d67d4) out of 5 stars The Mussorgsky is a Delight Oct. 25 2006
By Just Bee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am not an "audio expert", but I do know what I like. And I love this CD. I heard this recording of Mussorgksy's "Pictures From an Exhibition" on an NPR program from The Chicago Symphony. I was very taken with the clarity of sound. I searched for the recording through Amazon and I am absolutely delighted. It is a four dsic set, but I haven't gone on to the other recordings (yet) becasue I keep re-playing this lovely piece. I hope you enjoy it.
By Cody Robert at Spokane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The CSO, with its first and lesser chairs filled with Central European virtuosi, was arguably the best orchestra in the land (with apologies to Boston) but at war's end was a troubled, demoralized ensemble. A remarkable concatenation, or collision, of timely events beginning in 1949 soon made it our foremost recording orchestra and, at last, through its Mercury recordings an internationally reputable symphonic organization. Four elements came together simultaneously: Mercury's dedicated cultural base in the Second City; competing Columbia's introduction of the microgroove recording format; the visionary classical production team of Wilma Cozart and C. Robert Fine; and, not least, the hiring of the young, compassionate and progressive Maestro Kubelik.

The lovingly remastered mono recordings sound astonishingly well today, still crisp and fresh and vivid, and Mercury, the Fines and Kubelik clearly anticipated that they were making pioneering permanent recordings that would outlive more than one generation of happy, satisfied (and newly enlightened) listeners. Less can be more, as in performance or classical recording, and Kubelik reportedly was happy with the Fines' simple, nonintrusive single microphone technique because it exactly reproduced the sound he heard on the conductor's podium--which might of course differ from the sound heard in the stalls or a recording control booth.

Three of these discs are just stunning (both in artistic interpretation and the listener-friendly sound picture), the fourth only slightly less so. The widow Fine left retirement to supervise personally the digital transfers of her husband's creatively engineered masters, and in equal importance with demonstrating the effectiveness of single miking, tube amplifiers and tape decks were reconditioned to replicate the warmth and natural acoustic fondly remembered from the original vinyls. These seminal original Mercurys have been reissued in individual replica editions with the original cover art, and in the large Living Presence catalogue boxes as well, but this four-disc distillation covers the most coveted and characteristic Kubelik recordings, with the Dorati followups a closely fitting supplement.

The first disc is routine by comparison with its sequels, the Mozart hard to listen to and hardly a Kubelik specialty, and the idiomatic Dvorak is far more winning and expansive in the conductor's Berlin stereo remake. The second and third discs are remarkable keepers, this MA VLAST--Kubelik's most proprietary showpiece--sounding just as fresh and committed as the formal Boston remake or the final Prague homecoming version. Both the Mussorgsky and Bartok selections sound almost revolutionary as home-listening spectaculars despite their unbelievable antiquity (April 1951). Just imagine, dear Mr. Edison: we can now hear an entire classical work without interruption, without changing your cylinders or frangible shellac 78s scratched by cactus needles!

The varied fourth disc makes me feel very adventurous, with Kubelik introducing Midwestern subscribers and home listeners in Peoria and Evanston to the thorny but accessible Hindemith and some surprisingly lyrical and romantic Schoenberg, one of the conductor's finest recordings of newer music. Dorati's Kodaly and Bartok were proprietary in his Magyar programmes, and I'm especially fond of these PEACOCK VARIATIONS, a work that really needs stereo but that Dorati makes persuasive and even resplendent in the early (1954) Cozart-Fine mono.

As a committed follower of both the Chicago orchestra and Maestro Kubelik's full-circle career arc I'm proud to recommend this cohesive memento, not a random compilation, of his singular American years. Let me add, confidentially, that Kubelik/CSO gives me even more warm-and-fuzzy symphonic satisfaction than listening to the autocratic but fastidious Reiner/CSO or the remote but lyrical Giulini/CSO. And, giving the famous ensemble all due credit, the CSO play consistently well under a maestro of any temperament, including the mercurial "Sir Solti."