DVORÁK: Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70. Symphony
No. 8 in G, Op. 88.
DVORÁK: Symphony No. 6 in D, Op. 60. Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From
the New World."
CORIGLIANO: Circus Maximus: Symphony No. 3 for large wind ensemble (2004).
Gazebo Dances for band (1972)
Audiophiles will rejoice with the release by a major label of three audio only Blu-Ray disks. Naxos shows renewed interest in state-of-the-art surround sound and does so in a big way. The label previously had issued several recordings on SACD that apparently were not commercially viable—in spite of their high quality. Naxos plans a regular series of Blu-Ray issues all originally recorded 24-bit, 88.2kHz or 96kHz format. This allows the listener to retrieve all of the quality of the original recordings in discrete uncompressed multi-channel sound. Blu-Ray conveys all information of the original recordings in discrete multi-channel sound. The result is remarkable. Packaging is similar to a regular Blu-Ray release.When the disk is inserted, the only video on the monitor is a screen describing disc contents. You can select audio format you wish (PCM Stereo 2.0 or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), and program tracks you wish to hear. Complete credits also are available on screen.Should any future Blu-Ray audio discs contain 7.1 surround sound channels, the format can easily handle this extra information.
Dvorák's Symphonies 7 and 8 were previously issued together. Symphony No. 6 was coupled with Nocturne in B and Scherzo capriccioso, and Symphony No. 9 with Symphonic Variations; this more generous pairing is welcome. This is possible because of the vast increase in data available on a Blu-Ray disc—many times that of a CD. The original CD releases impressed sonically, but Blu-Ray technology unquestionably is superior in every way: dynamic range, frequency response, accurate placement of instruments, and, because of availability of rear channels, the sonic replication of original hall acoustics.
Corigliano's Circus Maximus was mentioned on this site in October 2009 (see S.G.S.'s REVIEW). At that time, he mentioned that the stereo sound could not convey the composer's original intentions: scoring had groups of instruments spaced throughout the hall as well as a marching band. That problem surely is solved in this multi-channel issue, which is a stunning, entertaining sonic experience. It is unfortunate Austin's Bass Concert Hall is rather dry—the music could have benefited from a warmer acoustic. But let us rejoice in what we have, and hope that the market will support this quality venture. Hats off to Naxos!!
R.E.B. (February 2011)