Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Wagner Concert (Reiner)

Cover design by Alex Steinweiss
It almost never happens these days that I go into a record store (or any other kind of store) and stumble upon any 78s worth buying, especially classical ones; the supply, never plentiful here in the South, has all but dried up.  Imagine my delight when, three weeks ago, I went into Records Galore in Clarkston, Ga., and found, among the three or four 78 sets tucked away in the back, this Reiner album (including his very first recording with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the "Ride of the Valkyries"), and very reasonably priced too (as you can see from the sticker on the above picture)!  I'm afraid it was the only set there that had both musical interest and acceptable condition, but there it was, and now I offer it to you, along with another Wagner set by Reiner that I've harbored for seven years, but never got around to transferring until now:

A Wagner Concert:
Prelude to Act I of "Die Meistersinger"
"Forest Murmurs" from "Siegfried"
Preludes to Acts I and III of "Lohengrin"
"The Ride of the Valkyries" from "Die Walküre"
Columbia Masterworks set MM-549, four 78-rpm records


Wagner: Bacchanale (Venusberg Music) from "Tannhäuser"
Columbia Masterworks set MX-193, two 78-rpm records

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner
Recorded March 14, 1940, January 9, 1941, and November 15, 1941
Link (FLAC files, 120.52 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 78.29 MB)

For those who like to burn CDs from my downloads, or make playlists, I would suggest following the order of the "Wagner Concert" but inserting the "Tannhäuser" extract before the "Ride of the Valkyries" - this seems to give the best balance of moods and tempi.

MM-549 was one of several albums of reissues that Columbia issued in the closing days of the Petrillo recording ban in 1944, when the supply of backlogged recordings had run dry, and new ones from Europe were unavailable due to the war.  So they took four single records of Wagner already on the catalog, and cobbled them together into an album.  The resulting "Wagner Concert" was also part of Columbia's initial LP launch, and in that form would have been the first Wagner compilation to be listed in the fondly-remembered Schwann Long Playing Record Guide.  I always wondered why, under the Wagner listings, albums of compilations of his music were under the heading "Wagner Concert" while all the other composers' compilations were under headings like "Music of Beethoven," "Music of Brahms," etc.  This issue, I've decided, has to be the reason....


  1. Hi Bryan - Strangely, I have the LP version of the "Wagner Concert" all transferred and ready to go onto my blog. I'm interested to hear what the 78s sound like - the LP sound is boxy. Happy to have the 78 set cover - the LP came in a tombstone cover. I don't have the Venusberg music, so thanks for that, as well!

    1. Great minds think alike, is all I can say! I'll be interested in hearing your LP too.

    2. Thank you very much for this recording, which I never knew existed, I took the liberty of de-blemishing the cover art but left the foxing as it was.

    3. Thanks, I was hoping someone would do that. There was no way to remove that price sticker without tearing away a part of the cover with it, so I left it alone .

    4. Here is an edited version of the hi-res Steinweiss cover in the archive: (edited version=6 mb jpeg)

  2. What a great surprise this morning. Though I have a number of the Reiner, PSO recordings this is totally new to me. It's like Christmas came early. Thank you,

  3. Your link goes to FileFactory and they want me to pay. Can you provide a link to a Free File sharing service?

    Thank you.

    1. Click on the "Slow Download" button at the bottom of the FileFactory screen. DL will take 20 min, but it is free.