BMG Classics Releases First 10 RCA Living Stereo SACDs

BMG Classics has released the first 10 Super Audio CDs in their new RCA Living Stereo Remastered SACD series. This is the first installment of what will be at least 20 such SACD remasters from the RCA label’s series of Living Stereo Classical Music albums. It follows the release of 4 newly recorded SACD titles released in the U.S. and several more Classical Music SACDs from BMG which have been released in Europe and are slated for U.S. release later this year.

As I noted in our earlier stories on this new SACD series (see linked stories below), BMG hired Soundmirror in Boston to go back to the original analog master tapes of these classic albums and transfer them directly to Direct Stream Digital (DSD) using Studer Tape Recorder equipped with the Aria Discrete Class A electronics. The resulting Super Audio CDs use the Surround Sound SACD track to present the recordings in their original 2 Channel Stereo and in some cases in full 3 Channel Stereo form for the first time.

Initial reviews of the remastered RCA Living Stereo SACDs has been very positive and has created a lot of excitement among both classical music and Super Audio CD fans.

Comments from BMG Classics
Classical Music fans will note that 3 of the albums in this series are actually new to the Living Stereo series, having been released as conventional Stereo albums in the past. These albums feature performances by Van Cliburn, Arthur Rubinstein and conductor Pierre Monteux.

BMG Classics Vice President and General Manager Gilbert Heatherwick says that “One of the most important responsibilities of a recording label is the preservation of its historic archives. As the Living Stereo master tapes are obviously among the most cherished in the history of classical recording, it was very important to us that they be preserved utilizing the most advanced technologies available today. Engineer John Newton’s use of the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) process in his SACD remastering has far exceeded any previous restoration and preservation efforts. The listener can now hear detail and clarity far beyond what was heard even during playbacks at the original sessions. With this new technology, another ‘veil of clarity’ has been lifted. It assures us that listeners will be enjoying these legendary performances in all of their glory for generations to come.”

Original 2 and 3 Channel Mixes Featured
As noted earlier, the RCA Living Stereo Remastered SACDs feature the original 2 Channel and 3 Channel mixes of each composition. To keep the series consistent, all of the discs are Hybrid Surround Sound SACDs.

Where all of the original recordings are 3 Channel Stereo, the Surround Sound SACD layer features the music in 3 Channel using SACD’s Left, Center and Right Channels. In cases where some of the material is from 2 channel masters and other compositions are from 3 channel masters, BMG has chosen to present the music in both 2 channel (Left and Right Channel playback) and 3 channel stereo (Left, Center and Right Channel playback) on the Surround Sound SACD layer. Finally, when all of the material is from 2 channel master tapes, the Surround Sound SACD layer is still used, but the music only features Left and Right Channel playback. Here is a listing of the first 10 SACDs by original source (and playback):

3 Channel Stereo (SACD Surround Sound)/2 Channel Stereo (SACD Stereo)/2 Channel CD (CD Audio)

  • Charles Munch, Boston Symphony – A Hi Fi Spectacular! – Saint-Saлns: Symphony No. 3 “Organ”; Debussy: La Mer; Ibert: Escales (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61387-2)
  • Van Cliburn, Kiril Kondrashin, RCA Symphony Orchestra & Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61392-2)
  • Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony – Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel), A Night on Bald Mountain; Tchaikovsky: Marche Slave, March Miniature (from Suite No. 1); Borodin: Polovtsian March (from Prince Igor);
    Kabalevsky: Colas Breugnon Overture; Glinka: Russlan and Ludmilla Overture (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61394-2)
  • Leontyne Price – Verdi & Puccini Arias (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61395-2)
  • Arthur Rubinstein – Chopin Ballades, Scherzos (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61396-2)

    3 Channel & 2 Channel Stereo (SACD Surround Sound)/2 Channel Stereo (SACD Stereo)/2 Channel CD (CD Audio)

  • Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony – Bartуk: Concerto for Orchestra (2 Ch), Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta (3 Ch), Hungarian Sketches (3 Ch)(RCA Living Stereo 82876-61390-2)
  • Jascha Heifetz, Charles Munch, Boston Symphony – Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D (2 Ch); Mendelssohn:
    Violin Concerto in E Minor (3 Ch) (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61391-2)

    2 Channel Stereo (SACD Surround Sound)/2 Channel Stereo (SACD Stereo)/2 Channel CD (CD Audio)

  • Charles Munch, Boston Symphony – Ravel: Daphis et Chloй (Complete) (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61388-2)
  • Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony – Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra & Ein Heldenleben (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61389-2)
  • Pierre Monteux, Boston Symphony – Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique” (RCA Living Stereo 82876-61397-2)

    BMG Launches Living Stereo SACD Web Site and Contest
    To celebrate the availbility of the first 10 RCA Living Stereo SACDs, BMG Classics has launched a new Living Stereo SACD web
    site. Located at, the new web site features information on the 10 SACDs as well as information about the Super Audio CD format, a contest where the winner will receive a set of the first 10 Living Stereo SACDs and a message board where web viewers can ask questions of the series engineers and producers about the reissue series.

    Of note here are the comments that BMG Classics is considering the possible reissue of some of their 4 Channel Quadraphonic releases in SACD Surround Sound if the Living Stereo SACD series is well received. That is an interesting prospect for fans of those recordings.

    Pricing and Availability
    BMG Classics has released their first 10 RCA Living Stereo Remastered SACDs at a list price of only $11.98. This should help stimulate interest in the series.

    All ten of the SACDs are now available at music stores as well as web sites that carry Super Audio CDs. Included in the latter group are web sites such as Acoustic Sounds, CD Universe, Elusive Disc and Music Direct. Also worth noting is that Acoustic Sounds and Elusive Disc are offering package deals where classical music and SACD fans can order all ten discs for $110 while CD Universe is selling the SACDs for $9.95 each. Some very aggressive pricing for what are already very reasonably priced SACDs.