Minnesota Orchestra Showcase ($.99 special)
December 17, 2014
Reference Recordings RR-907CD
Looking Glass Insects
The second special is a fine recording of works performed by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue and recorded by Prof. Johnson for Reference Recordings. The CD is recordings from previous releases from the Minnesota Orchestra with the exception of the first track “Don Juan” by Richard Strauss which is a premiere release. The selections not only display the fine quality of the Minnesota Orchestra but show the superior quality of a Reference Recording revealing the amazing dynamic range along with clarity that will rival a live performance. All of the CD’s that these selections were taken from are still available from Reference Recordings or your favorite seller and I will note them in the track listing at the end of this article. This particular $.99 purchase had the added bonus of being sealed and never played.
“Don Juan,” a template for Hollywood film composers Erich Korngold and Max Steiner and their swashbuckling movie soundtracks, runs the full gamut of emotions from excitement to romance to gaiety and sadness. While I own two other recordings I give an edge to this one for the superior recording.
Two new tracks to me were the Deems Taylor “Looking Glass Insects,” a clever work with several orchestra instruments assuming the role of insects and a tempo that is like well insects. I’ve included this track as an audio clip for you to enjoy. The Valentino Dances conjure up the Latin flavor very nicely with a buildup that enhances the track. You’ll hear some of the more popular works such as “Finlandia,” “Firebird Suite (excerpt),” “Appalachian Spring (excerpt),” and an excerpt from “Ein Heldenleben.” One of my favorite selections is Liadov’s “Baba Yaga” which exhibits exceptional tonal color. Another favorite is music from Tchaikovsky’s “Mazeppa,” the Hopak a well orchestrated and tuneful track.
While I’ve not heard any Reference Recordings in HDCD encoding process I can only imagine that the clear transparent sound would be even better. If you can find this CD at a bargain go for it and you won’t be disappointed.
1….. Don Juan/Richard Strauss FIRST RELEASE (16:42)
2….. Looking Glass Insects/Deems Taylor RR-92 (2:56)
3….. Valentino Dances/Dominick Argento RR-91 (5:20)
4….. Finlandia/Sibelius RR-80 (7:48)
5….. Baba Yaga/Liadov RR-82 (3:22)
6….. Firebird Suite/Stravinsky RR-70 (5:00)
7….. Mazeppa Hopak/Tchaikovsky RR-71 (4:12)
8….. Das Lied von der Erde/Mahler RR-80 (3:12)
9….. Appalachian Spring Suite/Copland RR-93 (2:59)
10… Candid Suite/Bernstein RR-87 (8:14)
11… Ein Heldenleben/Strauss RR-83 (4:29)
12… Alborada del gracioso/Ravel RR-79 (7:37)
Total time is 72:19
Tracks 3,6,9,10,11 are excerpts