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PARAY conducts Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel - PASC338

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PARAY conducts Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel - PASC338-CD
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Detroit Symphony Orchestra 
conductor Paul Paray
Recorded in 1953

XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May 2012
Transfers from Mercury LPs by Edward Johnson 
Cover artwork based on a painting of Rimsky-Korsakov by Valentin Serov, 1898 

Total duration: 69:12


Paray's first Mercury recordings with the Detroit Symphony

The start of a beautiful friendship...


  • RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Russian Easter Festival Overture [notes / score]
  • RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Symphony No. 2 "Antar", Op. 9 [notes / score]

    Recorded 7 December 1953 Orchestra Hall, Detroit Issued as Mercury MG-50028

  • RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio Espagnol [notes / score]
  • RAVEL Boléro [notes / score]

    Recorded 13-20 February 1953 Orchestra Hall, Detroit Issued as Mercury MG-50020 

    Detroit Symphony Orchestra 
    Paul Paray conductor 

    FLAC downloads include scores of all works

Sleevenotes original LP


Because of Paul Paray's tremendous vitality and kinetic energy, his very presence at an ordinary social gathering seems to electrify the atmosphere. Such is the sheer personal impact of this remarkable artist who in the fall of 1952 took over the musical destinies of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra which Mercury is so proud to present on its Olympian Series recordings.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra came into existence in the spring of 1914. Four years later, when the renowned conductor-pianist, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, began his long association with the Orchestra, Detroit became the proud possessor of one of the nation's great symphonic organizations.

The death of Gabrilowitsch in 1936 ushered in a difficult transition period for the fortunes of Detroit's orchestra; but by 1951 it had become very plain to all music-minded citizens of the Motor City that support of a great symphony orchestra must be the cultural responsibility of the entire community. Thanks to the leadership of John B. Ford, Jr. and Jerome H. Remick, Jr., the Detroit Symphony Orchestra came gloriously into its own once more when, on the evening of October 18, 1951, Paul Paray conducted the first concert of a completely re-organized ensemble, and this marked a new era in the musical life of Detroit.

Paul Paray, whose personal and musical dynamism has created considerable excitement in Detroit and elsewhere in the country where he has appeared as guest conductor, is a musician of singularly wide background and experience. In 1911 he was a Prix de Rome winner at the Paris Conservatoire; but his subsequent musical activities were interrupted by combat duty in World War One. Only in 1918 did young Paray embark in earnest on a conductorial career. First he was appointed assistant conductor of the Lamoureux Orchestra in Paris; then in 1923 he became that orchestra's permanent leader. Nine years later saw Paray taking over the famous Concerts Colonne in Paris, succeeding Gabriel Pierne. Paray's American debut was with the N. Y. Philharmonic-Symphony at Lewisohn Stadium, where he scored a dazzling personal triumph and was acknowledged as one of Europe's greatest masters of the baton; but again the onset of war made it impossible for him to follow up his initial success. The war and occupation years in Paris saw him defying the Nazis at every turn, using the power of music and of his personal prestige as his principal weapons. Only when his own life was in immediate and deadly peril did he "exile" himself to Monte Carlo until after the liberation, when Paris welcomed him home as a conquering hero.

It was in 1951 that Paul Paray, now an Officer of the Legion of Honor and a "Membre d I'lnstitut", returned to America, there to conduct the first five concerts of the reorganized Detroit Symphony Orchestra. So overwhelming was the power and vitality of his musicianship that his appointment as permanent conductor was assured; and in the fall of 1952 Paray was proud conductor of an expanded 104-piece Detroit Symphony boasting in its first chairs and in its ranks some of the finest musicians in the country.


As in all the LIVING PRESENCE symphonic recordings made under the celebrated Olympian Series and Golden Lyre imprints, Mercury has employed here its unique recording technique based on the use of a single Telefunken microphone hung about 15 feet directly over the conductor's podium. Fairchild tape recorders have been used both for recording the actual perform ance and for the processing from tape to disc. This last was done in conjunction with the newly developed Miller recording cutter driven by the Mcintosh amplifier, and operated in conjunctior with the Fine-Fairchild Margin Control technique of continuously variable pitch and variable depth of cut—thus assuring a 100-percent reproduction in disc form of the recording captured originally on magnetic tape,

FOR BEST RESULTS, this record should be played at FULL ROOM VOLUME. Only in this way will the quieter musical passages be heard in proper relationship to the full orchestra climaxes.

Mercury MG50028, sleevenote excerpt


Notes on the recordings:

Mercury was quick to sign up Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the earlier of the two LPs represented here, their recordings of February 1953 of Rimsky-Korsakov's Capricicio Espagnol and Ravel's Boléro were the first recordings of a lengthy collaboration between the musicians and the record company. Despite there being only 10 months between them, these recordings do seem slightly less polished technically than the later work on this release.

Boléro was a clear case of "fader riding" - the microphone had been turned up to full gain to capture the quiet beginning and then gradually reduced in level to compensate for the huge rise in orchestral volume throughout Ravel's lengthy crescendo. I've tried to compensate for this and return some of the orchestra's full dynamic range in this restoration, as well as considerably improving the orchestral tone throughout.

Andrew Rose



Paul Paray

Biographical notes from Wikipedia


Paul Paray (born Le Tréport, 24 May 1886 - died Monte Carlo, 10 October 1979) was a French conductororganist and composer. He is best remembered in the United Statesfor being the resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for more than a decade. He married Yolande Falck on 25 August 1944.


Paray's father, Auguste, was a sculptor and organist at St. Jacques church, and leader of an amateur musical society. He put young Paul in the society's orchestra as adrummer. Later, Paul Paray went to Rouen to study music with the abbots Bourgeois and Bourdon, and organ with Haelling. This prepared him to enter the Paris Conservatoire. In 1911, Paul Paray won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata Yanitza.

As World War I started, Paul Paray heeded the call to arms and joined the French Army. In 1914, he was a prisoner of war at the Darmstadt camp, where he composed a string quartet.

After the war, Paray was invited to conduct the orchestra of the Casino de Cauterets, which included players from the Lamoureux Orchestra. This was a springboard for him to conduct this Orchestra in Paris. Later he was music director of the Monte Carlo Orchestra, and president of the Concerts Colonne.

In 1922, Paray composed music for the Ida Rubinstein ballet Artémis troublée. In 1931, he wrote the Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc, which was premiered at the cathedral in Rouen to commemorate the quincentenary of Joan of Arc's martyr death. In 1935, he wrote his Symphony No. 1 in C major, which was premiered at the Concerts Colonne. He composed his Symphony No. 2 in A major in 1941.

Paray made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra in 1939. In 1952, he was appointed music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducting them in numerous recordings for Mercury Records' "Living Presence" series.

Paray could and did conduct the entire orchestral repertoire well, but he specialized in the French symphonic literature. One of Paray's most renowned recordings, made in October 1957, is that of the Saint-SaënsSymphony No. 3 in C minor. The circumstances surrounding the recording were fortuitous. Paray had built the Detroit Symphony Orchestra into one of the world's most distinguished. Marcel Dupré, a friend and fellow student from childhood, was organist for the session. Dupré, as a young student, had pulled the organ stops for the composer Camille Saint-Saëns in a performance of the Symphony No. 3 in Paris, and the organ of Ford Auditorium in Detroit was well suited to the work. As well as being among the most authoritative readings of the work, the original analogue recording on the Mercury label remains an audiophile reference in vinyl, and the analogue-to-digital transfer produced by the original recording director Wilma Cozart for compact disc is also available from Mercury (recording number 432 719-2).

He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.


Notes from




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PASC338 cover

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Cue sheet

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