Groundbreaking technology, dynamic musical leadership, world-class orchestral playing: a brief marriage of lasting impact for the history of recorded music. To mark the 70th anniversary of Mercury Living Presence, this limited-edition box presents the complete Chicago Symphony/Rafael Kubelik recordings, newly remastered by Thomas Fine and including never-before-published material.
Original cover albums New booklet essay on the Chicago Symphony/Kubelk years by Jonathan Woolf A sessionography by Thomas Fine Booklet includes rare photographs from the Mercury archives
The brief and turbulent tenure of Rafael Kubelik as the CSOs music director has become the stuff of legend for its intense partisan hostility. When he arrived in Chicago in 1950 to replace Artur Rodzinski, the 36-year-old Kubelik had impressive credentials and a fast-growing list of triumphs in Europe. The citys musical press had hung previous directors out to dry, including Rodzinski, but they subjected Kubelik to intense and sustained criticism of his programming and performances until he resigned in 1953.
Kubeliks arrival coincided with the lapsing of the CSOs previous recording contract and the almost immediate appearance of the ambitious Mercury label. The conductor later recalled how a very clever team from Mercury turned up and established that the best microphone positioning was just a single one above my head the resulting sound was identical to what I heard during the playing and didnt need to be altered.
As soon as they were issued Pictures at an Exhibition was the first LP ever released by Mercury the results won universal praise. Another eight albums followed, of Romantic and modern repertoire playing to the strengths of both orchestra and conductor, concluding in April 1953 with a sonic and artistic spectacular, the Five Pieces for Orchestra of Schoenberg coupled with Hindemiths Symphonic Metamorphoses on themes of Weber.
Using the best original tape sources available, new high-resolution transfers have been made by Thomas Fine, son of C. Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart Fine, founders of Mercury. Thomas Fine has also contributed sessionography notes, detailing the equipment and techniques which made MLP recordings famous the world over for their unparalleled fidelity.
CD10 includes unique material, beginning with an interview with Wilma Cozart Fine. First takes of Blochs Concerto Grosso add up to an almost complete alternative performance, never previously published. Experimental-stereo tapes of Mozarts Prague Symphony and Tabor from Ma Vlast were made by the engineer Bert Whyte. Both are included here in new remasters by Mark Obert-Thorn.
One of the most startling successes of the early years of LP recording The result is remarkable for the undistorted opulence and realism of the sound. The Record Guide, 1955 (Mussorgsky/Ravel)
Mercury has exceeded itself and the orchestra sounds like a real virtuoso group under Kubeliks propulsive baton. Gramophone, January 1952 (Bartok/Bloch)
So sensational that one needs a bucketful of adjectives to describe it. Gramophone, October 1952 (Mussorgsky/Ravel)
A very distinguished account which quite outclasses previous recordings. Gramophone, February 1953 (Dvorak)
Now the crown for the hiest-fiest, most startlingly realistic recording must go to this remarkable disc which is, moreover, equally remarkable for the brilliance of the performances Definitely my Record of the Year. Gramophone, September 1955 (Hindemith/Schoenberg)
Both works are presented with masterly certainty of touch. The Times, October 1955 (Hindemith/Schoenberg)
Forceful, sometimes hard-driven but decidedly attractive performances, finely recorded. The Times, December 1955 (Mozart)