TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture
Although not normally given to fits of nostalgia, I have to confess that this CD found me beaming back to my teenage years, poised between the two modest speakers of a Bush record player and eager for an aural bombardment. Both battle pieces incorporate cannon fire recorded at West Point, with
Dorati's conducting is brisk, incisive and appropriately dramatic. 1812 in particular (Dorati's second Minneapolis recording of the piece for Mercury) suggests a rare spontaneity, with a fiery account of the main 'conflict' and a tub-thumping peroration where bells, band, guns and orchestra conspire to produce one of the most riotous key-clashes in gramophone history. Capriccio italien was recorded some three years earlier (1955, would you believe) and sounds virtually as impressive. Again, the approach is crisp and balletic, whereas the 1960 LSO Beethoven recording (originally coupled with excellent versions of the overtures Prometheus and Leonore No. 3) triumphs by dint of its energy and orchestral discipline.
As 'fun' CDs go, this must surely be one of the best – provided you can divorce Mercury's aural militia from the terrifying spectre of real conflict (such as we see almost daily via the media). Wilma Cozart Fine has masterminded an astonishingly effective refurbishment while the documentation – both written and recorded – is extremely comprehensive.