Khachaturian: Masquerade Suite
Kabalevsky: The Comedians
Kiril Kondrashin, conductor
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Pressing: US, first pressing with shaded dog
Date first published: 1960
Price range: $25-316, mean $86 on popsike
Comments: This is one of the RCA Living Stereo sonic blockbusters. Not only is this fun, exciting, dynamic music, but the performances are first rate and the sound matches it. During freshman year of high school, I had the chance to play the second violin part to the Waltz and Galop movements of Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite for the Illinois Music Education Association (IMEA) District Fall Concert Festival. Having never heard the pieces before, it was exhilarating to finally hear the music performed by the entire orchestra. After the concert was over, I was eager to find a recording of the Masquerade Suite at the local library but had no luck. It wasn't until almost ten years later, when I picked up a copy of this record, that I could enjoy the Waltz and Galop all over again. We might've played our hearts out at that district concert, but we didn't stand a chance against Kiril Kondrashin and the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra.
I've been pining a lot lately about the distortion on many of the expensive classical records from the "Golden Era", but this one goes scott-free without complaints. Dynamic range is excellent, and clarity at all dynamic levels is superb. Sound stage is expansive and deep, truly giving you the sensation of hearing the music live in the concert hall. You can really sit back and appreciate the hall acoustics.
Quoting from Jonathan Valin's The RCA Bible:
"One of the great RCA's. Although the hall is as big as a campground and the choirs of the orchestra are arrayed like Boy Scout troops on it, this record, especially the Kabalesky side, is sheer delight. You just don't find top-notch transparency, detail, snap, and ambiance combined with accurate timbre and wonderful playing on all that many records. #10 on CBK's Top RCA list, as well it should be."
There you have it. If you find a good copy, don't let it get away. This album was also reissued as RCA VICS 1007.