Recording of June 1963: Music for Strings

Music for Strings
Couperin: Concert Pieces for Cello and Orchestra; Mozart: Divertimento in D, K.136; Corelli: Concerto Grosso No.4, Op.6; Britten: A Simple Symphony
Solisti de Zagreb, Antonio Janigro, cello and director
RCA Victor LSC 2653 (2 LPs). Richard Mohr, prod., Lewis W. Layton, eng, TT: 47:56

From the standpoint of content and musicianship this is a superb collection of delightful music performed with the consummate authority and artistry for which Mr. Janigro and I Solisti de Zagreb are justly famous. The recording, too, while by no means perfect, is at least pre-Dynagroove, which as far as I'm concerned is now a compliment to any RCA Victor release.

Surfaces are immaculate and, despite the well-filled sides, I found no noticeable inner-groove problems. The low end is firm and full, and the dynamic range is adequate for the music. But someone on the engineering staff decided that here was a chamber orchestra which could be easily made to sound larger, and so what we hear is not unlike the sound of a full string orchestra. As a result, the delicacy of the performance is spoiled by a cavernous acoustical environment that would be ideal for a recording of The Planets, but is hardly appropriate to this kind of music.

Directionality is unobtrusive, and the placement of Anton Heiler's harpsichord during the Corelli concerto is well thought out. But the first violins suffer from a case of zipitis which is only partially correctable by means of the left-channel treble control.

In the Couperin pieces there is a gross miscalculation in balance. Mr. Janigro's cello is placed right in our lap, while the orchestra is much too far in the background. In addition, the violins always sound as if they are coming from a much greater distance than the lower instruments of the orchestra.

Despite all of this, I am willing to put up with the recording because of the music contained thereon and in view of the wonderful playing of the Solisti di Zagreb. But is it too much to ask that RCA Victor stop sticking their technical fingers in every musical delicacy they serve us?—James W. Keeler

Allen Fant's picture

Nice write up- JWK

is there a CD or SACD version of this recording?