Judged in its time as a straightforward coupling of Rachmaninov's very popular Second Symphony with Rimsky-Korsakov's extremely popular Capriccio Espagnol, this 1976 recording with Edo de Waart leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra gets a whole new lease on life in this superlative PentaTone super audio CD. Though issued in stereo on LP, the performances were originally recorded in quadraphonic by Philips and superbly remastered by PentaTone, and the four-channel sound here is breathtaking in its immediacy with astounding transparency and an enormous dynamic range. It is truly as if the listener was 15 rows back in a concert hall with ideal acoustics.
More importantly, this reissue will reveal to contemporary listeners just how magnificent these performances actually were. Then in his youth, de Waart was a strong-willed conductor who made Rachmaninov's Second surge with fin de siècle passion and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio sparkle with Silver Age brilliance. Similarly, the Rotterdam was a splendid ensemble, with bright colors, deep sonorities, and an effortless virtuosity that rivaled -- if not surpassed -- the Concertgebouw Orchestra's. Though many listeners will already have their favorite recordings of these warhorses, de Waart and the Rotterdam's performances combined with PentaTone's sound make a pair compelling reason to try this disc.