These pre-Chicago recordings of Fritz Reiner with the Pittsburghers is a reminder of his greatness as a conductor. It also restores to the catalog his recordings of some composers he wasn't closely identified with. Shostakovitch, for example, wasn't a regular on Reiner's studio schedule, but should have been, for this Sixth bristles with sardonic wit and energy. The Kodaly Dances, of course, were right up Reiner's alley, and get a smashing performance. The shorter works too, are first class, especially the Bart243;k Hungarian Sketches and another Reiner calling card, Kabalevsky's Colas Breugnon Overture. Weiner's string Divertimento is charming, but the real prize may be Glinka's Kamarinskaya, given a peformance that shimmers and glistens with delicacy and life. Sony's restoration of the 1945-1947 recordings is faultless.
Amarcord is a popular male vocal ensemble devoted largely to Medieval- and Renaissance-era music. The group also sings works by contemporary composers and performs arrangements of songs from various periods. Amarcord is an unusual ensemble in that it consists of just five singers who sing a cappella. There are two tenors, one baritone, and two basses. The sound is quite individual, imparting a mellow, somewhat Romantic approach to the vocal style, with the two tenor voices often singing the lead parts.