A Wonderful Surprise
George John | Houston, TX United States | 08/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Reference Recordings' "Reveries" seems to be a significant departure from many of their prior releases, which for the most part have been works of extremely wide dynamic range. Also interesting, is that all the works selected for this album use a "andante" or "walking tempo".The RR Website states the works selected are "Relaxing, beloved classics by Debussy, Satie, Ravel, Faurè, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and more, beautifully played by one of America's great orchestras. A balm for jangled nerves, and excellent music for unwinding and dining!"Personally, I don't purchase albums like the one described above. I generally want a good deal of "sturm und drang" in my music. But, I so much enjoyed the past three RR releases (Copland, Respighi, and Rachmaninoff) with Oue and the Minnesota, I couldn't resist. At a minimum I was curious how well Prof. Johnson captured the many subtle orchestra colors and sounds found in these works, and how well Oue and the Minnesota handled these (mostly) familiar "classics".Instead of "relaxing", I found myself significantly impressed and surprised by the interpretations and quality of ensemble in some of the tracks on this disk. Even more surprising is how moved I was by them.There are 12 tracks in all. Where this CD caught fire for me was track 7, Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun"; followed by track 9, Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess"; track 11, Sibelius's "The Swan of Tuonela", and finally Saite's (as arranged by Debussy) "Gymnopedie No. 3".I have long been familiar with all of the above, but have no particular recollection of connecting strongly with any of these works. I made the connection today. Perhaps the whole is greater then the sum of the parts. Like a "magic eye" picture, where out of a chaotic 2-D image emerges a coherent 3-D picture, perhaps the first 6 tracks were a perfect setup for what was to follow. The same might be true of the recording quality. As I listened to this CD, the "sound image" became more clear and realistic. By the end I was mostly under the illusion that I was in a live hall, a rare experience for me at home.The orchestral playing is at times simply wonderful. I'm most impressed by how much commitment both the conductor and orchestra seem to bring to these very familiar, "relaxing" ;-) works. Since Oue is leaving the orchestra, this may be his last RR recording with the Minnesota (I hope not of course). If this is true, perhaps this caused the musicians to play with even more inspiration than I am accustomed. In particular a bravo goes to english horn player, Marni Hougham on the Sibelius.Overall, this release is quite a pleasant surprise. I will look forward to hearing from anyone else who has listened to this disk, favorable or not.GeorgeNote: while this CD should work fine using standard CD playback, it is HDCD encoded. I did listen to this using a HDCD decoder (Toshiba SD5700"
Absolutely beautiful music and superb recording!
skiwqi | Norwalk, CT USA | 01/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard the first 3 tracks from NPR on one September day and was simply breathless. Especially with Satie's music, I only knew it being the piano solo without realizing that Debussy had orchestra arrangement for it. Furthermore I didn't realize that the orchestra interpretation can be so moving that it almost brought tears to my eyes. It's so beautiful and rich in sound, adding whole new dimensions to the original solo that I remember by heart.I contacted the radio station inquiring about the CD and interestingly enough, the label happens to be one of the small recording companies. Luckily they have a website and from there I found myself a good deal through Amazon Marketplace.The cd consists of music of slow tempo. Many familiar tracks now have new meanings to me. I'm also fond of track 6, the melody lingers on long afterwards. The last track is also by Satie. With the same the style and tempo as the opening track, it ends the CD nicely.I'm so happy to own such a superbly recorded CD which is also the first one I played many times continueously. This has become my favourite possession among hundreds of my cds.So please get a copy for yourself, find a quiet Sunday afternoon, have a cup of tea ready and emerge yourself in the breathtaking music......"