Recording of July 1968: Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Circus Polka

Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Circus Polka
Los Angeles Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, cond.
London CS 6554 (LP/tape).

This is all the proof one could want that London's big, fat sound is more the result of their recording philosophy than of the halls they record in. One of the first London recordings ever made in the US, this has the now-familiar London sound all down the line: The big, fat low end, the richness, the superb balance, and the razor-sharp detail without zizz or zip. As usual, the result is not terribly real, but it certainly is exciting as well as being musically satisfying.

This release has something more than sonics, too. The performances are excellent, particularly in the Circus Polka romp. Petrouchka comes through with less of the ballet flavor than, say, the old Ansermet stereo performance, but we found it equally exciting and satisfying in its own way.

Our review tape had a somewhat dull high end and, as usual, more hiss than the disc, but the hiss was low enough to ignore. Generally, though, the disc sound was better.

Highly recommended, in either medium.—Margaret Graham

dalethorn's picture

It's frustrating how these releases are so "controlled" in different countries. I can get the latest release of this on CD from Amazon etc., and it's available for download from 7Digital in a few countries *except* the U.S. But no U.S. download anywhere that I can find (I don't do streaming.)

Indydan's picture

It's 2018. Stream baby stream!

Herb Reichert's picture

it is a $5 LP on eBay

volvic's picture

Was just about to log in and say the same. There are available choices Dale, all you have to do is wait for the postman to deliver your goods.

dalethorn's picture

As usual, the postman did not deliver. According to the local post office, and backed by the postmaster in Washington DC, their policy is "We have no parcel delivery service to your address".

I live in an upscale condo complex with each front door on the street. UPS, FedEx, DHL all deliver here, but the post office does not, preferring to have the ~300 residents drive 5 miles to pick up their packages.

While that sounds ridiculous to you I'm sure, it's very true and one reason I no longer want to deal in physical media. The other rather nasty fact is that Amazon and other sellers will not ship by other than USPS with few exceptions, and there is never a customer shipping option. No shipping option and no delivery - I believe I'm living in the Dark Ages, and BTW, that policy is at least 5 years old here.

volvic's picture

Isn't upscale condo living supposed to provide all amenities? I find it disappointing to hear they won't deliver.

dalethorn's picture

There's a theory maintained by the post office that the central management office (the "Condo Association") in the complex would provide for receiving parcels, but if that office ever did, that service was closed years ago. As more than a dozen of these non-deliveries have occurred over the past 5 years, and I've followed up on each one with the Condo Association, the local post office, and their postal offices at the state and federal level, I've accumulated the most amazing collection of excuses for non-delivery, most of them in writing.

I'm frankly astounded at all of this, and dismayed that the residents here haven't demanded a change, but what bothers me the most is the lack of shipping choice at many sites, especially Amazon, and that's because the post office is heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. There are other factors that exacerbate the issue, such as the fact that fewer and fewer of the items I purchase online are available anymore within a reasonable driving distance.

dalethorn's picture

OK, my conscience is bugging me - order in.

Edit: I ended up ordering two CDs - one from Presto Classical on Decca/Eloquence, released April 2013, and the other from Amazon (used) also on Eloquence/Decca (Import) with a very different cover. These appear to be the original recording, so it should be interesting to compare the discs for any sonic differences.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You can buy the CD (if available) and transfer (rip) the music to the computer, lossless or lossy, whichever you prefer ............ or you can wait for the MQA version for $50 (ha ha ha) .........

dalethorn's picture

Heh heh - oooh, not going there - no!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Let us know how the CD sounds ........ The Stereophile review appeared in 1968 ......... May be it was re-recorded and/or re-mastered at a later date ....... Let us know ........

dalethorn's picture

I'm pretty confident. Normally I wouldn't accord a lot to Amazon reviews, but if you know the genres and who's reviewing them and the language they use, they can be very reliable. In this case, the people who know are raving about at least one of these. I have some Mehta/L.A. recordings from that time period, including one of the most famous (or infamous) ever - the Zarathustra from 1968, which I repurchased on a Japanese XRCD disc.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW, don't say "used" ......... The politically correct word is "pre-owned" ......... like pre-owned CD, pre-owned vinyl record, pre-owned amplifier, pre-owned car etc. ...........

dalethorn's picture

I'm a secret vinyl fan as well as a more public digital maven, so I prefer "pre-scratched" with coffee spills and so on. It adds flavor...

Anton's picture

"Used" would imply an audiophile had actually played the records.

"Pre-owned" is more precise and accurate.

dalethorn's picture

Oooh, that hurts.

Anton's picture

I meet guys who have 15,000+ LP's...pure reality TV fodder. Our Lp's are not played, they are displayed.

If I were going to live until the average audiophile played a record he bought ten years ago - I'd outlive Methuselah.

We are a funny bunch, I am guilty of that crime.