Dvorak: New World Symphony; Smetana: The Moldau
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Price range: $25-238, mean $60 on popsike
Comments: The folks at EMI/Columbia in the 1950s-60s must've really loved Dvorak's New World Symphony or realized its selling potential to the music-buying world, because they decided to record it at least 4 different times with four different conductors on the British Columbia alone, not to mention Rudolf Kempe's recording in the EMI ASD series. This was the first of the four, the others being with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Phiharmonia, Carlo Maria Giulini with the Phiharmonia, and lastly with Otto Klemperer with the New Philharmonia. I wonder how the musicians of the Philharmonia felt about recording this four times. Karajan and the Berliners would go on to record the New World a few more times for Deutsche Grammophon. We all know there is no shortage of recordings for this staple of the classical music repertoire. In any case, this is a pretty decent early stereo recording, with a good all-out performance (my only qualm is the opening measures of the 3rd movement, which I felt were a little wobbly). The second movement is given a very lyrical treatment, the third and fourth movements proceed at good tempos. Again, as I have found to be typical on these early EMI/Columbia recordings, you feel like you're sitting some rows back in the recording hall, but that way you can also take in the acoustics of the hall. Dynamic range is pretty good, with just a little loss of clarity in the very loud passages. This could be my equipment. I'd describe the recording as being "bright". In summary, this is a pretty common SAX recording and if desired, you should not have any difficulty in finding a reasonably priced copy of this. I have a second pressing, which sounds fine to me. If you're willing to pay at least double for the blue/silver, be my guest. Unless you're a die hard first pressing collector, I see no reason to splurge.
Just an interesting aside ... this is the first time I've seen YRX stampers instead of YAX. Not sure of the meaning, if anyone else can clarify the discrepancy.