Since I have trouble with such things, I hope that David Lennick's message
about the Gilels/Reiner Tchaikovsky Concerto #1 will be forwarded with this. I
agree with David about the sonic problems of the stereo versions of this
recording and perhaps I can shed some light upon it.
The recording was made on October 29, 1955 in Orchestra Hall. As was
customary then, it was recorded in stereo; the mono version was edited down from the
stereo master. (The last Victor CSO recording to be made with separate
mono/stereo setups was the Heifetz/Reiner Brahms Concerto on February 21 and 22,
1955.) As David wrote, the mono LP, LM-1969, had excellent sound -- clean and
well-focused. There was never a stereo Red Seal equivalent of LM-1969, but there
was a two-track stereo tape (ECS-8). I own one, and the sound is excellent.
The first stereo disc version was Victrola VICS-1039 around 1963/4. There
might also have been a later Victor LP version in the late seventies. The sound
was dreadful; David described it well. It was so muffled that it sounded as
if it had been recorded with the microphones under the floor of the hall. Then
came the "Living Stereo" CD (09026-68530-2), and I must say that I disagree
with David a little -- it sounds pretty good to me, at least as good as my
stereo tape. So...
I was told by a good and trustworthy friend who worked at BMG for years,
and was involved in reissues, that the stereo master tape of the recording had
been lost for decades and that the "Living Stereo" CD was mastered from the
two-track tape, ECS-8. Anyway, as I recall the CD does sound fairly close to the
tape, which might now be the best (only?) stereo source we have for this
See what's free at
Just compared three copies of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto with Emil Gilels
and Fritz Reiner conducting: original mono LP (LM 1969), "Living Stereo" CD,
and 1970s English pressing on "Camden Classics" CCV 5016 from Victrola master
(VICS 1039). Interesting results. The CD is muddy, distant, over-reverbed and
very unpleasant. The Camden Classics/Victrola is running slow, horribly
distorted and full of dropouts. The original mono LP sounds .. bloody fabulous!