Mercury seem to have been way ahead of the field as recording technicians to judge by this disc and a Rite of Spring (also from Dorati but with the Minneapolis) that I have owned for most of my life. When these recordings were made, the President of the USA was Mr Eisenhower, but their technical quality would be creditable for the third millennium. Rimsky-Korsakoff needs to sound brilliant and vivid -- orchestral tone was as integral to his musical thinking as counterpoint was to that of Bach or Brahms -- but for its age this disc is nothing short of phenomenal, and worth every cent of the price. The London Symphony in its heyday was probably the world's greatest orchestra, and even its lesser performances had an arrogant 'this-is-all-too-easy' assurance that made it something like ideal for Rimsky. The Walthamstow Town Hall was a famous recording venue, and Dorati is a conductor I wish I knew more about. What little I previously had by him (the Rite of Spring and some Haydn symphonies) is superlative. I got this record for the Coq d'Or suite, which is my #1 favourite bit of Rimsky but which has not been easy to find in Europe lately. It has everything I would have wanted from a record cut in 2002, and the other Rimsky pieces are to the same standard. So are the Borodin Polovtsian Dances, which are a worthy successor to my LP version -- by Beecham, no less -- but this is basically a disc for Rimsky-fanatics. If you are no kind of fanatic, here is a chance to be one without harming anybody. If you are the wrong sort of fanatic, here is a better outlet for your impulses.
These recordings from 1955-61 smell of the theatre which is a great compliment. It might as well be the Bolshoi.The performances are razor-sharp, dramatic, exciting, and gloriously recorded. The LSO under Dorati was a remarkable ensemble, and all these years later, you can still "hear" Dorati in its concerts and recordings. Walthamstow Town Hall, London, made a superb venue for this standard of music-making, and Wilma Cozart has rehabbed her own recording sessions to remarkable effect. If you compare these with first edition vinyl, you'll find that the LPs give you more of the characteristic Dorati "gut" in string attacks, but that's not enough to dissuade you getting this disk if your vinyl is in ratty condition. Wonderful.