When I first started collecting classical CDs, I only had a few Mercury Living Presence (MLP) titles. In my quest to get the absolute best, or at least a definitive recording, of the major works of the standard repertoire, MLP discs rarely topped the critics' lists. In fact, only three MLP recordings have been earmarked as "Essential Recordings" by amazon -- Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Byron Janis performing Rachmaninov's 2nd & 3rd Piano Concertos, and Yehudi Menuhin performing Bartok's 2nd Violin Concerto, all three with Antal Dorati as conductor. It is also safe to say that three other titles are equally essential for their historical value alone. They are Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake by Dorati (the first recording of the complete ballet), Janis performing Liszt's Piano Concertos (the first recordings made in the Soviet Union by American technicians, musical staff and equipment), and Kubelik's Chicago Symphony performance of Pictures at an Exhibition (one of, if not the single best mono...
The recorded sound is not bad at all...in fact, quite good-- though not as good as the average modern recording, nor quite as good as Syeryng/Hablaer's Mozart Sonatas, but it's very close. What this record interests me is the way how a Maestro of the Carl Flesch tradition ( albeit he also learned from the French violinist Thibaud and Enescu ) of Polish origin would interprete such Viennese music. To some audience, the Viennese glamour and elegance, or the Kreisler sort of assurance isn't quite there: somewhat like when Furtwangler conducted the Waltz, it was not quite the same thing as Strauss himself conducting, however great Furtwangler was. To some audience, other than Kreisler himself, perhaps Morini got it better, however superb or gracefully Szeryng played these pieces. But, if one is to choose between Oistrakh or Szeryng as far as these pieces are concerned, I definitely prefer the latter! In mitigation, we have the fullest support possible from Reiner, although he...
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