Paray / DSO – Paray Conducts Wagner (180g pressing)

# Composer: Richard Wagner
# Orchestra: Detroit Symphony Orchestra
# Conductor: Paul Paray
# Vinyl (1961 / 2015)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# DR Analysis: DR 13
# Label: Mercury Living Presence | 478 8058
# Size: 24-bit/192kHz (1.95GB), 24-bit/96kHz (1.00GB) and 16-bit/44.1kHz (289MB)
# Recovery: 5%
# Scan: yes
# Servers: File Factory

From the label:

It was a startling development in the world of high fidelity when Mercury released its first Living Presence recording in 1951. Listening to the recording of Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” with the Chicago Symphony under Rafael Kubelik, Howard Taubman, then chief music critic of the New York Times, wrote it was “like being in the living presence of the orchestra.” Following this spectacular first release, Mercury produced more than 350 classical LP records during the next 19 years.

Mercury Living Presence artists included: conductors Rafael Kubelik, Antal Dorati, Paul Paray, Howard Hanson, Frederick Fennell and Victor Alessandro; pianists Byron Janis and Gina Bachauer; cellist Janos Starker; violinist Henryk Szeryng; and Los Romeros, the First Family of the Spanish Guitar.

Mercury’s innovative approach, master-minded by recording engineer C. Robert Fine, was based on the premise that, given a hall with excellent acoustical properties, a single ultra-sensitive microphone should be capable of capturing the sound of a symphony orchestra with unprecedented clarity, realistic balance and crisp definition. Though single-microphone recordings had been made before, the idea of recording large-scale symphonic works was bold and innovative.

When the stereo era dawned in the mid-1950’s, Fine expanded and improved on this technique, opting for three microphones (left, center, right) to capture the full width, height and depth of the orchestral sound along with startling clarity and detail.

The Mercury team never used extra “touch-up” microphones, even for recordings of concertos, operas or solo works. Thus, the true clarify and full panorama of the sound was vividly captured, as well as the perspective and spatial dimension of an actual performance.


Paul Paray (1886-1979) was famous for his Wagner as much as anything else he conducted. He was never at Bayreuth, but listening to this disc you wonder why. Since he was a Resistance higher-up during the war, Bayreuth may have proved a bit repressive for him. We may never know. What we do know is that his approach to Wagner was very much that of an operatic practitioner: dramatic, sweeping, fresh, vital, above all, human.

Paray obviously knew how build dramatic scenes: he gets a move-on and doesn’t let the gods dabble around brandishing spears. There’s work to do and places to go, and the result is remarkably individual without in any way disfiguring the scores for “effect” or “uniqueness.” Paray gives you what he sees and hears and it’s exciting, unlike any other Wagner you’ve experienced.

If you’re interested in great Wagner tradition, you MUST get this. — Mark McCue,

Track Listing:

Side One
Side One
01 – Overture to “Der fliegende Holländer”
02 – Excerpts from “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”

Side Two
03 – Wotan’s Farewell and Magic Fire Music from “Die Walküre, WWV 86B”
04 – Overture to “Rienzi”

Recording Information:

The music on this album was recorded February 20, 1960, in the auditorium of Cass Technical High School in Detroit on 3-track half-inch tape, using three Schoeps M201 microphones, and was originally released as SR90232.

Recording Director: Wilma Cozart
Associate Engineer: Robert Eberenz
Chief Engineer and Technical Supervisor: C. Robert Fine

Limited edition, numbered LP set
Original LP front and back covers
Pressings by OPTIMAL on 180g vinyl
Lacquers cut by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios

Additional info can be found here.

Ripping Info:

All vinyl is cleaned on a VPI 16.5
Milty Pro Zerostat 3

Technics SL1200-MK5 (modified)
– Rega RB300 arm with RB700 wiring
– Michell Tecnoweight
– SoundSupports armboard
– Trans-Fi Audio ResoMat
Audio Technica AT33PTG/II
AVID Pellar preamp
RME Hammerfall 9632 ADC

Processing: Sound Forge 10, ClickRepair (manual mode only), iZotope RX3

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