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Classical - Released February 7, 2006 | Living Stereo

RCA's Living Stereo LPs of the 1950s represent something akin to the moon shots of the following decade: technological achievements that have still not been equaled, almost 50 years later in the case of this 1958 recording. They were engineering accomplishments above all, and they evoke an era when good old American know-how was widely admired. The photo of Virgil Fox on the cover of this album fits the concept; he seems almost scientific in his frameless eyeglasses. And this music shows off the RCA sound at its very best. The organ, too, is American; it is the Aeolian-Skinner instrument at Riverside Church in New York, a sonic spectacular that merited its own section of the liner notes (the original text of which is reproduced in the booklet). Not a glimmer of sound issuing forth from its pipes escaped the reach of producer John Pfeiffer and his equipment (not even what sounds like a truck driving past the church at one point). It is quite characteristically 1950s-American of the notes to complain of the paucity of great organ music written "while the pipe-organ was in its most vigorous stage of development technically," and what happens musically is that the Baroque selections are amped-up to meet the specifications. Fox's Bach is very appealing in its sheer towering sound, but a bit overdone in its too-varied articulation (as if the music were being earnestly explained to us), accelerandos, multi-octave doublings, and big, 1950s-movie moments of sentiment. As we get closer to our own time, things improve; a Canon in B minor by Robert Schumann has a whiz-kid impatience that Fox catches nicely, and the famous Pomp and Circumstance march by Edward Elgar (the one played for graduations and weddings) is included as a bonus track; it was recorded during the original session but never released. With the Toccata from the Symphony No. 5 for organ in F minor, Op. 42, and with Henri Mulet's Thou Art the Rock, which were written with extreme organs in mind, things really get rocking. Invite your friends over, fire up your Super Audio CD player, and pump up the volume. You'll shake not only your house, but the whole damn zip code. Maybe it all was, like the Apollo space program (which at its height consumed 4.4 percent of the entire national budget of the United States), all a bit too much. But if you're in search of five-star sound with which to challenge good speakers or headphones, here it is -- and give the reissue team an extra asterisk for a superb CD transfer. © TiVo

Classical - Released March 1, 2012 | Reference Recordings CD


Classical - Released April 29, 2016 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released March 29, 1988 | RCA Classics


Classical - Released January 1, 1994 | Angel Records


Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Angel Records