Paul Paray & Mercury Living Presence

What The Critics Said


“Judging from the first releases by him and the newly resuscitated Detroit Symphony Orchestra, [Paray] should soon come into his own. His reading of this much-played symphony is a thrill from start to finish.” High Fidelity, November 1953 (Franck)

“Once again, Paray reveals his mastery at interpreting modern French music. The [Pelléas Suite] emerges as the essence of beauty and simplicity, while La Valse, infused with new life, is made to rise to thrilling dramatic heights.” High Fidelity, December 1954 (Fauré/Franck/Ravel)

“A Seventh of strong assertion and iron-clad rhythm, a Teutonic paean to substantial motion … The whole has no more subtlety than the surf when the ocean is violent, but it has the same kind of conviction.” High Fidelity, January 1954 (Beethoven: Symphony No. 7)

“Mr. Paray is one of the few universalists who can acquit themselves well of almost any musical problem … This writer is not a student of [Les Préludes], but he knows no recording of it better than this, nor any reason why there should be one.” High Fidelity, November 1954 (Schumann/Liszt)

“[Paray] has a way with this music that knows few, if any, parallels among present-day conductors. He makes it live and breathe, infusing it with a magic mixture of subtlety and excitement. Thus, his Sorcerer’s Apprentice abounds in drama, suspense and humour from beginning to end.” High Fidelity, November 1954 (Dukas/Fauré/Roussel)

“[The DSO] play French music with altogether admirable style and technique, and though the former may be due to Paray’s expert coaching, the latter is very clearly their own possession – and a most remarkable one it is.” Gramophone, February 1955 (Dukas/Fauré/Roussel)

“This is not balance as we recognize it but it is perhaps better, in a splendour of brass and full identity of the woods beyond a concert-hall experience of the throttled instrumentation of the music. It is the most startling version, and perhaps also the best.” High Fidelity, February 1956 (Brahms, Symphony No. 4)

“His interpretations are all well-judged … these players show not only brilliance but a very attractive lightness of rhythm … The swiftly moving but very quiet Prize Song theme is just right.” Gramophone, October 1956 (Wagner)

“I couldn’t believe my ears, and darted to the turntable to see if it was set by mistake to 45. But it wasn’t; Paray really was taking the first movement like that.” Gramophone, January 1957 (Beethoven, Symphony No. 6)

 “The approach is fresh and full of vitality. The lush melodies and harmonies get plenty of attention, but are never allowed to cloy … The Detroit Symphony, which he has built into a top-notch orchestra, responds magnificently.” High Fidelity, February 1957 (Chausson)

“Four of the finest Wagner performances currently available. Paray is one of those remarkable French musicians who can give impressive and stylistically sound accounts of German scores, and the orchestra responds beautifully to his leadership.” High Fidelity, February 1957 (Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, etc)

“Recommended without reserve … Paray and his orchestra play each [excerpt] most sympathetically … the Tristan Prelude is extremely well built by Paray.” Gramophone, July 1957 (Wagner)

“Paray’s treatment … imparts new flavour and excitement.” High Fidelity, August 1957 (Bizet)

“Paray … builds the work from beginning to end, with a truly moving climax resulting … Nowhere do I know of a recording that transmits the tremendous peaks of the finale with such transparency. The disc is wonderful in every way.” High Fidelity, March 1959 (Saint-Saëns: Symphony No 3)

“Paray’s is one of the best-proportioned versions of the richly romantic Rachmaninoff Second Symphony in recorded form, and the conductor manages to draw superb performances from his orchestra.” High Fidelity, March 1964 (Rachmaninoff: Symphony No 2)


“Brilliantly and opulently set forth by Paray [La tragédie de Salome] … With his affinity for French music of all periods, Paray enhances the Suite No. 1 with an exhilarating reading.” High Fidelity, April 1959 (Schmitt/Lalo)

“[Between Paray and Szell] it’s a contest of perfection between two great conductors and orchestras, and technically it ends in a draw. But interpretatively, Paray wins hands down … Where Paray really glows is in the Reformation Symphony, of which he gives an unhurried and noble account.” High Fidelity, August 1959 (Mendelssohn)

“Paray gives a sensible, fairly straightforward reading, yet one that has plenty of Schumannesque glow.” High Fidelity, October 1959 (Schumann, Symphony No 1)

“The performance which gave me outstanding pleasure was that of the Siegfried Idyll, because it is kept moving and never sentimentalised.” Gramophone, October 1959 (Wagner)

“Paray’s readings are full of strength and dramatic intensity, yet every note is clear, crisp, and correct … This should be a whopper in stereo.” High Fidelity, March 1960 (“Bouquet de Paray”)

“Paray surely doesn’t disappoint us here … The Detroit orchestra proves once again that it ranks among the best. Its playing is expert in every department, and every section is revealed in lifelike fashion by Mercury’s engineers.” High Fidelity, May 1960 (Sibelius)

“I’ve certainly never heard Chabrier’s Marche Joyeuse … played with more brilliance. There is also included a Marseillaise guaranteed to whip any Frenchman into an ecstasy of patriotic fervour.” High Fidelity, June 1960 (“Vive le marche!”)

“Paray gets playing of great style and virtuosity; and, the most essential thing in a performance of light music, his players sound as if they are really enjoying a session away from sterner things.” Gramophone, October 1960 (Lalo)

[Valses nobles et sentimentales is] a performance chock full of style and utterly convincing … L’Après-midi is almost as good in its very different way… there is so much to delight on this record.” Gramophone, November 1960 (Debussy/Ravel)

“An electrifying sonic experience.” High Fidelity, June 1961 (Suppé)

“Paray has always been a romantic at heart, and he plays this music with affection but without exaggeration.” Gramophone, October 1961 (Wagner)

“Each work included is represented by its finest recorded performance to date. Paray obviously is engaged here in a labour of love rather than duty … the exuberant dances from Le roi malgré lui never sounded more proudly high-stepping and glittering.” High Fidelity, January 1962 (Chabrier)

“Paray’s stronger treatment tends to clear away the cobwebs and reveal the music in a fresher, brighter light … the stereo version, vibrant and realistic in its expansiveness and separation, goes to the very top of my list.” High Fidelity, February 1962 (Franck)

“An excellent version … The virtuosity of this ensemble is rightly renowned throughout the world, as well as the spirit and the homogeneity that the great French conductor instilled in them. We will find here his eminent qualities in the service of a wise conception of the obsessions of Berlioz.” Revue des deux mondes, June 1963 (Symphonie fantastique)

“In his reading [of La valse] every passage, every voice is crystal-clear; at the same time the bigger climaxes come with crashing effect. It all adds up to one of the most lucid and most exciting performances of this work I have ever heard.” High Fidelity, July 1963 (Ravel/Ibert)

“Done with Paray’s characteristic verve and precision, enhanced throughout by superb recording and warm acoustical ambiences. The dynamic and frequency ranges are quite extraordinary.” High Fidelity, September 1963 (“Ballet Highlights”)

“Paray and the DSO are at their vital best here, and the blazing recordings of their taut, rousing performances sound just as impressive today as when they first appeared.” High Fidelity, March 1964 (“Heroic Overtures”)