The Super Analog "Thus Spake Zarathustra"

Category: Music

Richard Strauss In Chicago Part II

Everyone knows the 2001 movie theme “Thus Spake Zarathustra”. There are few versions of this work of Richard Strauss that were recorded with the intent of just that work cut to both sides of one LP. A version that is a serious contender for top of the heap is the one Decca / London recorded with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra.

Mehta’s version is high on demonstration quality and was intentionally recorded with that in mind by the Decca/London recording engineers (Decca SXL 6379 / London CS 6609). If you can find it I recommend the Mehta version re-issued by King Japan Super Analogue Disc (K38C – 70006) on the used market. It is known for its low bass impact and low organ notes. It has great sound in every way. The Mehta is one of my favorites. You will find some additional information about it in the LP lists of Arthur Salvatore.

Another famous version is one of the very earliest stereo recordings recorded around 1955 by RCA. Fritz Reiner conducting “Thus Spake Zarathustra” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. If you can’t find an original RCA. Classic Records released a great re-issue of it early in its inception. You can find the Classic re-issue of it easily the record number is LSC 1806.

This brings us back again to Chicago but this time with Georg Solti for yet another version of “Zarathustra” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Originally this recording spanned one side of the original LP (London CS 6978 / Decca SXL 6749 “The Richard Strauss Album” and it was also released in Japan on London as record number SLA-1116 Japan London release but in that case spanned both sides of that LP which I have not heard. Pressed by King it may be comparable in sound to the Super Analog Disc version reviewed here.). * See Richard Strauss in Chicago Part 1 for further information *

Cut now for the first time on two sides of one LP, mastered with tubes and pressed at RTI in California. Issued by King Records as Super Analogue Disc KIJC – 9198 in November of 1999. The performance was recorded in May of 1975 at the Medinah Temple in Chicago.

Solti’s version has a fantastic warm sound. The organ opens side 1 with deep bass and the arpeggio plays two times and the pitch is low. The drums play two times. This is deep bass of the highest order. System testing bass. Huge bass drum whacks answer the call of the music. The bass is startling and exciting.

Deep strings enter with the horns – then strings again. There is much inner detail with airy acoustic and superb silences. Eerily spooky deep strings play melody. The violin sound is exquisite rosin on strings sound as they are bowed. The hall acoustic gorgeously rich and warm the lows sound smooth and resonant. The organ enters and ends side one which clocks in at 15:44.

Side 2 opens with hushed tones as the melody reappears building in layers symphonicly as more and more instruments enter. The solo violin and the backing strings and acoustic beauty musically mystifying. Side 2 ending...... trailing off into nothingness as the bass makes its final noted thud clocking this side in at 14:47.

If you demand the most from your LP recordings and enjoy system busting bass and lows with the highest fidelity you need to hear this record. It is well worth seeking out if you enjoy the works of Richard Strauss at their recorded best. Great music and stunning sonics.

Producer: Ray Minshell
Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Three out of four!
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