Antal Doráti: The Mercury Masters - The Stereo Recordings

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Antal Doráti: The Mercury Masters - The Stereo Recordings
Antal Doráti, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra

[ Australian Eloquence Mercury Living Presence / 30 CD Box Set ]

Release Date: Friday 21 July 2023

Documenting all of Antal Doráti's stereo recordings with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra for Mercury, this edition showcases a golden era in American classical recording. The recordings were heralded with superlatives from contemporary journals - "Breathtaking, this Doráti…", "as technically flawless as it is sonically and melodically intoxicating" (High Fidelity) - and reveals a musical personality centered on dynamism, intensity, and an exceptional ability to persuasively articulate rhythms. The project has been supervised by Thomas Fine and includes CD premieres, a previously unpublished audio interview and rare session photographs from the archives.

"fiery, colourful and warm-blooded and superbly recorded" Tempo
"Sonically it is hair-raising" Hi-Fi Review

The Hungarian conductor Antal Doráti joined the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra as its music director in 1949, and immediately began making it into one of the orchestral powerhouses of the post-war United States. Mercury began recording the ensemble in 1952 and continued to do so until his departure in 1960. Doráti's 51 albums (24 mono, 27 stereo) are a testament to what he achieved with the orchestra during his eleven years there. They reveal a musical personality centred on dynamism, intensity, and an exceptional ability to persuasively articulate rhythms.

Eloquence presents the most complete ever reissue of the Doráti/Minneapolis legacy in two 'original jackets' boxes, faithfully representing the contents of the albums as they were first issued. New remastering made or supervised by Thomas Fine, son of Mercury's long-time chief engineer and producer, as well as original remastering for CD by Wilma Cozart Fine, bring this legacy to life as never before. Thomas Fine contributes a 'sessionography' to each box detailing the technical facets of the Mercury Living Presence recordings, and Dennis D. Rooney is the author of authoritative booklet notes surveying the history of the partnership on record as well as his personal memoirs of the period.

The stereo box features some repertoire remakes of mono-era recordings, and while close comparison between them only serves to underline the conductor's remarkable consistency of idea and execution - he knew what he wanted, and he got it - there are many insights to be found in placing Dorati's mono and stereo Rites side by side, his Johann Strauss waltzes and Richard Strauss tone-poems, his Scheherazade, Petrouchka, Pines of Rome and more. Doráti continued to lavish his perfectionist ear and sprung rhythms on ballet scores such as Copland's Rodeo and Delibes's Coppélia.

Significant rarities - some of them appearing for the first time on CD - include albums of contemporary American pieces by Fetler, Peterson and Schuller, and a disc of Doráti's own music. One more rarity, never reissued since 1958, is 'The Magic of the Bells': a collection of hymns recorded on the same Riverside Church, New York bells as the legendary 1812 Overture album. As sequels to the Eloquence boxes dedicated to Kubelík in Chicago and Paray in Detroit, these Doráti collections comprehensively document a golden era in American classical recording.

The much-requested Doráti Minneapolis legacy on Mercury, reissued in a single collection with the bright and lively original jackets

This is a strictly Limited Edition

"The lively Mendelssohn symphony finds conductor and orchestra in superlative form. Their performance of this difficult work is amply virtuosic, yet very sensitively phrased." High Fidelity, January 1953 (Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4)

"Refreshingly brisk, straightforward and unmarred by any of the usual sentimentality … The reproduction here, of course, is tops." High Fidelity, January 1953 (Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5)

"Doráti brought a keen sense of vivid theatrical effect and an enlivening imagination... The Minneapolis Symphony was honed to a fine edge of precision for the performance, the recorded sound is still the most dramatic this music has ever had." Hi-Fi Review, December 1962 (Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker)

"As performances, no others have ever won more deservedly widespread and enthusiastic praise. Technically, these discs set new standards for high-fidelity glitter and impact." High Fidelity, February 1964 (Tchaikovsky: Ballets)

"Doráti, who is a pupil of Kodály, plays this work with special perception and authority." High Fidelity, July 1953 (Kodály: Háry Janos)

"The most dramatic introduction to Beethoven … irresistible in its concentration of breathless conflict." High Fidelity, November 1953 (Beethoven: Symphony No. 5)

"Doráti grasps the fiery work with both hands, throwing none of it away." Gramophone, June 1954 (Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5)

"One of Bartók's wittiest, most colourful, and most approachable compositions, and Doráti's attitude toward it is thoroughly authoritative." High Fidelity, October 1954 (Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra)

"Doráti is a clever conductor and he makes of this symphony a memorable experience." Gramophone, November 1954 (Copland: Symphony No. 3)

"A superbly rich, vital, and sensitive interpretation." High Fidelity, September 1955 (Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé)

"The performance itself is of great brilliance. Doráti is brisk, efficient, and at all times in full control, particularly in the final fugue. Mercury's engineers deserve considerable praise." High Fidelity, November 1955 (Britten: Young Person's Guide)

"Rude, brassy, and effective sonics have a good share in making the learned jollity of the Academic Festival infectious." High Fidelity, September 1956 (Brahms: Academic Festival Overture)

"Candidly, one would not have expected Mr. Doráti, who has said naughty things about Beethoven, to harbour an Eighth Symphony so brilliantly pertinent as the one Mercury has recorded here with her best skill." High Fidelity, December 1956 (Beethoven: Symphony No. 8)

"The zestful playing of Antal Doráti and the Minneapolis Symphony, plus the fine sound, turn this ballet score into a vivid orchestral display piece." New York Herald Tribune, 1958 (Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé)

"A technical tour de force." Audio magazine, 1958 (Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker)

"Doráti and the orchestra outdo themselves … Everything about this performance and recording is right." The New Records, Philadelphia, 1958 (Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty)

"Doráti has a nice conception of these mostly familiar Strauss works, which he delivers with a firm hand and a healthy regard for the Viennese style." High Fidelity, March 1959 (Strauss: Waltzes)

"There isn't, and won't be another record like this one... it has to be heard to be believed... is it possible to exceed this in the art of reproduced sound?" The New Records, Philadelphia, April 1959 (Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture)

"The conductor can have a field day, as Antal Doráti does, leading a band that is as dazzling as it is necessary to be in this music." La revue administrative, May 1968 (Respighi)

"Arguably the finest version of the Rite on record." Gramophone, August 1977 (Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps)

"The remarkable scoring in the Suite is very faithfully rendered… and the Chicago SO unleash all the wiry strength they possess into a truly memorable performance." Gramophone, February 1955 (Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin)

"Dramatic and lyrical, with strong contrasts and outspoken brass, assuredly what the [Unfinished Symphony's] design specifies... A strange coupling but a good record, with a great dynamic range and some thunderous climaxes... this is not for playing in a small room or one sparsely furnished." High Fidelity, December 1954 (Schubert/Tchaikovsky]


CD 1
BARTÓK Suite No. 2

CD 2
Suite from 'Der Rosenkavalier'
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche

CD 3
KODÁLY Háry János - Suite
BARTÓK Hungarian Sketches
Roumanian Folk Dances

CD 4

CD 5
BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 2
Yehudi Menuhin

CD 6
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 'Eroica'

CD 7
ROSSINI Overtures

CD 8
OFFENBACH (arr. Rosenthal) Gaîté Parisienne
J. STRAUSS II (arr. Doráti) Graduation Ball

CD 9
ALBÉNIZ (orch. Arbos) Iberia
FALLA Interlude and Dance No. 1 (La Vida Breve)

CD 10
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2

CD 11
Strauss Family Album

CD 12
COPLAND Rodeo; El Salón México
Danzon Cubano
GERSHWIN An American in Paris

CDs 13-14
DELIBES Coppélia

CD 15
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture
(including spoken commentary)
Capriccio italien
Deems Taylor

CDs 16-17
DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dances
SMETANA The Bartered Bride - Dances

CD 18

CD 19
Eugene Onegin - Waltz & Polonaise
Francesca da Rimini

CD 20
Tod und Verklärung

CD 21

CD 22
MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition
Khovanshchina - Prelude & Dance of the Persian Slaves

CD 23
BLOCH Sinfonia breve
PETERSON Free Variations for Orchestra*

CD 24
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5

CD 25
STRAVINSKY Le Sacre du printemps

CD 26
DORÁTI Symphony
Nocturne and Capriccio
Antal Doráti Interview°
Roger Lord; Allegri String Quartet
Dennis D. Rooney

CD 27
SCHULLER Seven Studies
FETLER Contrasts for Orchestra

CD 28
RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 2
Two Preludes
Byron Janis

CD 29
RESPIGHI Pini di Roma
Fontane di Roma

CD 30
The Magic of the Bells
Kamiel Lefévere