Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mitropoulos/ NYPO and Reiner/Pittsburgh Shostakovich Symphonies

These two recordings, to the best of my knowledge, are not currently available on CD. The Reiner Masterworks Heritage CD containing this recording is listed on Amazon for absurdly high prices, indicating it is not longer in the catalog. It is a brilliant remastering and I would strongly recommend getting the CD if you can find it at a reasonable price. Though I own it, I have used my well used, thrift store LP for the renovation, in line with my stated intent not to post other's digital work. It cleaned up rather well.

The Mitropoulos recording of the Fifth Symphony, with the "Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York", was the first performance of the first Shostakovich piece I ever heard, when I checked the record out of the Thayer Public Library in Braintree, Massachusetts as a sophomore or junior in high school. (Many thanks to that library for its small but sterling collection of classical records which introduced me also to the Oistrakh/Mitropoulos recording of the Violin Concerto of the same composer and so many other great recordings.) After all these years, it is still my favorite performance on record, despite the less than brilliant sonic properties of the Columbia LP, which I have tried to improve as much as I felt was prudent.

Unfortunately, Mitropoulos, one of the very greatest musicians of the last century, more often than not suffered from poor or, at best, mediocre recording. The recording of the 6th symphony with Reiner predates by several years that of the 5th by Mitropoulos, and was issued originally on 78s; it is nonetheless superior sonically.

Both of these records contain performances of reference of the works in question, and it has been a pleasure and privilege to restore them for this post.

Link to all files


  1. Ah...indeed...these are wonderful documents to have! I first listened to the Mitropoulos on one of those real crappy Columbia Special Products issues. That cracky record almost turned me off completely, not because of the music but because of the terrible pressings! Needless to say, this is an excellent 5th and its just too bad that Columbia engineers didn't give Mitropoulos better efforts. The same goes for the Minneapolis recordings.

    Reiner's is an interesting take; one would not readily associate him with Shostakovich. What is apparent is the terrific orchestra he developed in the "steel" city. Very flexible and precise.

    Thanks Larry. Good to see these two back!

  2. Hello,
    Thanks so much for the Shostakovich recordings. They are truly great ones.
    The previous comment reminds me of how many of those old CSP issues I used to have. I bought them two at a time if possible: the flaws (blisters, dimples, pressing "flash") on one pressing usually weren't in the same place as the next one, so I was able to cobble together some halfway decent cassette dubs. Nothing I could do about the reprocessed stereo though - switching the preamp to mono cancelled out some frequencies!
    -regards, Greg from SF

  3. I guess I was lucky in having found early LP pressings of these performances. I know what you mean about the dreaded "electronically reprocessed to simulate stereo." Thank god for those columbia special product issues, though, warts and all; they did return some important performances in the catalog for a while.

  4. These are excellent performances (particularly the 5th) and the sound is really good. Thank you.

  5. These really are classic performances - Sony France reissued them on CD a few years ago, I picked that up double quick, because it was bound to - and did - get deleted very soon after. So I needn't download these particular recordings, but I am very grateful for your generous labours.

  6. I missed this earlier -- glad to find it!

    I look forward especially to the Reiner 6th Symphony, a real treasure.

    I have the Rodzinski 5th lying around somewhere too, and recall it to be pretty good. (hmm....)

  7. Yes, the Rodzinski is pretty wonderful. Do you know the Stowkowski recording with The Stadium Symphony on Everest. Absolutely gorgeous, though I'm not sure it's really Shostakovich. Well worth finding for its sheer, sonic splendor. Thanks, by the way, for the Haydn post, which I meant to acknowledge long before this.

  8. Larry: Just recently downloaded the Shostakovich 5th by Mitropoulos and your treatment of it is outstanding. Listening on my best headphones was a treat. Thanks for this. Ray Pratt, Bozeman, MT