DVORÁK: Slavonic Dances, Opp. 46 and 72
Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer, cond.
PHILIPS 470 601 (F) (DDD) TT: 70:28
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This Beethoven Ninth has
been around for well more than two decadesIt was recorded in
September 1976. Now, perhaps as an ill-advised homage
to Karajan, a major money-maker for the label, DG has
released it in "SACD surround sound." The
merits of Karajan's Beethoven symphony recordings (one complete set on
EMI, three on DG) have been expounded
endlessly, the general consensus being that his 1961/2 DG set
interpretively is his finest. It's difficult to understand why DG elected
to issue this 1977 recording in the new super-audio format. The added dynamic
range and clarity of SACD cannot improve sound of the original recordings.
Stereo spread is adequate, but there is little bloom to the sound. CD
notes refer to "New
surround mix and new stereo mix" (credited
to Gernot von Schultzendorff), but on my system there is no sound whatever
from rear speakers. Surround sound
playback information on-screen indicates 5.l channels, but this is not
true.This is a distinguished recording and it is welcome to have it in
improved sound, but it is not "surround."
From an audio standpoint,
the release is another story. It is an original
multi-channel recording made in the Italian Institute in Budapest in March
and May 1999. The CD doesn't give any information about the surround
sound, but this one is 5 channel, not, for whatever reason, 5.1.
This means there is no "low frequency effect" channel, a channel
mostly used for videos when loud, low effects are required. This
LFE channel perhaps isn't necessary generally for music but there is no
question that it could, on occasion, help provide super-low bass. One
wonders why there is a low-frequency channel on the Karajan Beethoven Ninth
mentioned above. On the Philips Dvorák release,
surround channels provide a splendid amount of hall ambiencenone
of the instruments come from the
sides, but their reflected sound does. You won't find quite the snap and
authority in some historic recordings of these dances, notably by Ancerl,
Sejna, Szell and Kubelik, but Fischer and his Hungarian forces do a fine
job. This Philips SACD is highly recommended.