Most older listeners agree that Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite was ideal repertoire for Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With its big tunes, bright colors, bold harmonies, and unrelenting rhythms, Reiner and the Chicago -- the pre-eminent Strauss performers in America at the time -- excelled in Prokofiev's Kiji. In this superb 1957 RCA recording, Reiner and the Chicago were at the top of their form and their Kiji is witty, sassy, brave, ironic, and altogether hilarious. As sumptuously remastered by JVC, Reiner and the Chicago's Kiji is still the best available.
Most older listeners, however, cannot agree that Stravinsky's Song of the Nightingale was anything like the right repertoire for Reiner and the Chicago. With its spiky motifs, its primary colors, its hard harmonies, and its relentless rhythms, Reiner and the Chicago were seemingly out of their element. But although their approach is essentially Straussian, Reiner and the Chicago still excel at Stravinsky's Nightingale. In this superb 1956 RCA recordings, Reiner and the Chicago's Nightingale is warm, lush, sweet, and even a little sexy, a sort of Salome à la Stravinsky. As voluptuously remastered by JVC, Reiner and the Chicago's Nightingale may not sound like Boulez and the New York Philharmonic's modernist Nightingale, much less Stravinsky and the Columbia Symphony's mechanical Nightingale, but it is still arguably the best available, albeit from a less doctrinaire point of view.