Antonín Dvořák – Symphony No.9 Op.95 “From The New World”
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Mariss Jansons
SACD ISO: 2,55 GB (Stereo + MCH DSD) | FLAC @ 24bit/88.2kHz: 707 MB | Full Artwork | 3% Rec. Info
Label/Cat#: RCO Live # RCO 04002 | Country/Year: Netherlands 2004
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic

Superb orchestra playing, hear these woodwinds. Conductor and orchestra seems to be very happy with each other. There are a lot of “New World” recordings but Jansons is surely competitive with the great ones with Fischer, Kondrasjin, Harnoncourt en Kubelik. This CD is a jewel both in the freshness of the playing and in the clearness of the recording. My favorite! sa-cd.net (more…)

Jean Sibelius – Kullervo
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / Leif Segerstam / Isokoski / Hakala
SACD ISO: 3,78 GB (Stereo + MCH DSD) | FLAC @ 24bit/88.2kHz: 1,30 GB | Full Artwork | 3% Rec. Info
Label/Cat#: Ondine # ODE 1122-5 | Country/Year: Finland 2008
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic

Review by James Leonard
Every recording released of Kullervo proves Sibelius’ aesthetic judgment was wrong when he forbid performances of the work during his long lifetime. A five-movement symphony-cum-symphonic poem-cum-oratorio-cum-opera, Kullervo may have seemed unwieldy in its time, but starting with Paavo Berglund’s premiere recording in 1985, the work has taken its rightful place in the canon as the progenitor of Sibelius’ mature style and as a valid and affecting work in its own right. This 2008 Ondine release with Leif Segerstam leading the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the YL Male Voice Choir not only ranks with the best of recent memory — Osmo Vänskä and the Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s recordings — but Segerstam finds something new to say about the piece. By blending the epic-symphonic and the lyric-dramatic elements of the score into a cogent musical whole, Segerstam makes the best case for the work. With the powerful, colorful, and deeply committed playing of the Helsinki Philharmonic, the outer movements have the heft and control of symphonic arguments. And with the brawny but expressive baritone Tommi Hakala in the title role and the pure but passionate soprano Soile Isokoski as his sister, the central movement sounds more than ever like a scene from an opera. Captured in super audio sound that envelops the listener in the performances, this recording deserves to be heard by anyone who relishes Sibelius. allmusicguide

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Arthur Fiedler & Boston Pops – Hi-Fi Fiedler
Works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Chabrier, Rossini & Tchaikovsky
SACD ISO: 3,08 GB (Stereo + MCH DSD) | FLAC @ 24bit/88.2kHz: 1,35 GB | Full Artwork | 5% Rec. Info
Label/Cat#: RCA Red Seal “Living Stereo” # 82876-67895-2 | Country/Year: Europe 2005, 1956-1960
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic

RCA Victor began recording in multichannel five years before the introduction of the first single-groove stereo LPs in 1958. They began using two-channel 1/4-inch Ampex decks but soon moved up to three-channel 1/2-inch models as the Mercury Living Presence label had been doing from the start. The idea was to provide the mixing engineers with more flexibility in preparing the final master for production. The center channel signal could be raised slightly in level to bring a solo violin or piano more forward, and/or its signal could be mixed in varying amounts into the left and right channels to achieve a more uniform and balanced stereo soundstage. But also at this time things weren’t completely jelled as to stereo being limited to only two channels. Alan Blumlein had never stated in his original patent that only two channels were required. It was just as easy to make tape heads with three channels as two. But the single-groove stereodisc locked the format into two channels – it was quite impossible to get three channels with the 45/45 system of cutting and playback.

R. D. Darrell’s notes for the 1958 stereo LP release state that the three selections (the SACd has room for six) were specifically designed for demonstrate the newest heights yet attainable in the never-ending but ever-closer approach to perfect sonic replicas of the original “live” symphonic performances. The first is the nearly half-hour suite from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Le Coq d’or. This composer would easily be the hi-fi choice among 19th-century composers for his kaleidoscopic orchestral colors and drama – a perfect choice for the album. The other two selections of the original LP are the pair of chestnuts Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Marche slave. They are also both full of coloristic elements that make the fullest use of the modern symphony orchestra. Similar material recorded for a second LP later fills out the SACD. (The actual dates for this collection were 1956, 1958 and 1960.) Chabrier’s sparkling España is another natural for hi-fi demo purposes, with its brilliant dance impressions and striking of tambourine. The disc closes out with two very familiar Liszt selections: the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and the Rakoczy March.

Fiedler conducted the Boston Pops for 50 years and became the best-selling conductor in history. His 78rpm disc of the tango Jalousie had been one of the top-selling classical records in history – one million copies. He had a lifelong goal of bringing light classical music to the millions. Perhaps he was celebrated more than was his due, but Fiedler did have a way to bringing life and excitement to just about everything he chose to conduct – and he had a catholic and voracious taste for new works. Never before has the general public had the opportunity to hear these examples of his work as the RCA engineers heard them in the control room – from the original three channel tape playback. The soundstage is deepened and widened. Even a mint vinyl copy of the original pressing on a quality turntable doesn’t equal the impact of this three-channel hi-res digital disc, and it’s only around $10.

- John Sunier audiophile audition

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Anton Bruckner – Mass in E Minor / Motets
SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart / Mitglieder des Radio-Sinfonieorchesters Stuttgart des SWR / Marcus Creed
SACD ISO: 3,64 GB (Stereo + MCH DSD) | FLAC @ 24bit/88.2kHz: 1,04 GB | Full Artwork | 5% Rec. Info
Label/Cat#: hänssler CLASSIC # SACD 93.199 | Country/Year: Germany 2008
Genre: Classical | Style: Sacred, Vocal, Romantic

Review by James Leonard
Can there ever be too many recordings of Bruckner’s sacred music? For fans of the Austrian romantic mystic, the answer is no. After all, how could there be too many recordings of some of the most honest, most devotional, and most inspired spiritual music of the second half of the nineteenth century? And for them, this disc with Marcus Creed leading the SWR Stuttgart Vokalensemble in a selection of seven motets plus the E minor Mass will be a blessing. As listeners who have followed Creed’s career know, he is a skillful choral conductor able to draw musically balanced but emotionally affecting performances from his singers, and this Bruckner recording proves no less impressive than his classic Brahms recordings. In the a cappella motets, Creed sculpts the Stuttgart choir’s performances into warm-hearted hymns to God while in the wind band accompanied mass he creates a flowing five-movement monument to his Catholic faith. Older listeners may miss the spiritual passion that the great Eugen Jochum brought to these works in his classic Deutsche Grammophon recordings, but younger listeners will surely welcome not only Creed’s smoother performances, but Hänssler’s amazingly clean, digital sound. allmusicguide

All of Bruckner’s music seems to lead to God, the inspirer, the protector of dark hours, to whom the master of Saint Florian dedicated his last unfinished symphony. Symphonic music that is purely romantic and powerful, rooted in its era, it paradoxically does not seem to echo his sacred music, which is of another time and age, embracing numerous formal currents all at once. Ernst Kurth, Bruckner’s biographer, writes: “In Bruckner one notes this basic feeling which put its stamp on the old French mass, as well as on the Dutch mass, on the reform of church music undertaken by Palestrina, on the Roman and Venetian School, on all the transformations sustained by Italian and German church music with instrumental accompaniment since the Renaissance and the Austrian baroque era until the classical; and it is this feeling which allowed him to compare himself, insofar as form, to classic models all the while reconciling the religious spirit of the long past to the romantic spirit. Bruckner’s real historic place, this desire which, starting from medieval mysticism, elevated him to the summits of romantic susceptibility, is nowhere better found than in his church music… .” The present recording proposes his Mass N°2 in E minor in its 1882 revised form, as well as the Motets. Marcus Creed, who has also recorded extraordinary versions of Brahms’ choral works, once again delights us. The perfect tonal balance the Vokalensemble of Stuttgart radiates is a marvel at every moment. Bruckner’s sacred music thereby seems eternal. Here is a Super Audio CD of rare musical pertinence: a summit.
Jean-Jacques Millo, Translation Lawrence Schulman sa-cd.net

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