Composer: Rimsky-Korsakov, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Chabrier, Liszt
Orchestra: Boston Pops Orchestra
Conductor: Arthur Fiedler
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Bit Depth: 64 (2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.0, 2.0
Label: Living Stereo
Size: 3.04 GB
Arthur Fiedler – Hi-Fi Fiedler – Boston Pops Orchestra
01. Rimsky-Korsakov – Le Coq D’Or – King Dodom in his Palace
02. Rimsky-Korsakov – Le Coq D’Or – King Dodom on the Battlefield
03. Rimsky-Korsakov – Le Coq D’Or – King Dodom with the Queen of Shemakha
04. Rimsky-Korsakov – Le Coq D’Or – March
05. Rossini – William Tell Overture
06. Tchaikovsky – Marche Slave
07. Chabrier – Espana
08. Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
09. Liszt – Rakoczy March
RCA Victor began recording in multichannel 5 years before the introduction of the 1st single-groove stereo LPs in l958. They began using 2-channel 1/4-inch Ampex decks but soon moved up to 3-channel 1/2-inch models as the Mercury Living Presence label had been doing from the start. The idea was to provide the mixing engineers with more flexibility in preparing the final master for production. The center channel signal could be raised slightly in level to bring a solo violin or piano more forward, &/or its signal could be mixed in varying amounts into the left & right channels to achieve a more uniform & balanced stereo soundstage. But also at this time things weren’t completely jelled as to stereo being limited to only 2 channels. Alan Blumlein had never stated in his original patent that only 2 channels were required. It was just as easy to make tape heads with 3 channels as 2. But the single-groove stereodisc locked the format into 2 channels – it was quite impossible to get 3 channels with the 45/45 system of cutting & playback.
R. D. Darrell’s notes for the 1958 stereo LP release state that the 3 selections (the SACD has room for 6) were specifically designed to demonstrate the newest heights yet attainable in the never-ending but ever-closer approach to perfect sonic replicas of the original “live” symphonic performances. The 1st is the nearly half-hour suite from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Le Coq d’or. This composer would easily be the hi-fi choice among 19th-century composers for his kaleidoscopic orchestral colors & drama – a perfect choice for the album. The other 2 selections of the original LP are the pair of chestnuts Rossini’s William Tell Overture & Tchaikovsky’s Marche slave. They are also both full of coloristic elements that make the fullest use of the modern symphony orchestra. Similar material recorded for a 2nd LP later fills out the SACD. (The actual dates for this collection were 1956, 1958 & 1960.) Chabrier’s sparkling España is another natural for hi-fi demo purposes, with its brilliant dance impressions & striking of tambourine. The disc closes out with 2 very familiar Liszt selections: the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 & the Rakoczy March.
Fiedler conducted the Boston Pops for 50 years & became the best-selling conductor in history. His 78rpm disc of the tango Jalousie had been one of the top-selling classical records in history – 1 million copies. He had a lifelong goal of bringing light classical music to the millions. Perhaps he was celebrated more than was his due, but Fiedler did have a way to bringing life & excitement to just about everything he chose to conduct – he had a catholic & voracious taste for new works. Never before has the general public had the opportunity to hear these examples of his work as the RCA engineers heard them in the control room – from the original 3 channel tape playback. The soundstage is deepened & widened. Even a mint vinyl copy of the original pressing on a quality turntable doesn’t equal the impact of this 3-channel hi-res digital disc, & it’s only around $10.