for Orchestra. The Miraculous Mandarin. Schola Cantorum;
New York Philharmonic /Pierre Boulez, cond.
SONY CLASSICAL SS 87710 TT: 68:20
Concerto for Orchestra was recorded Dec. 18, 1972 in Manhattan
Center, Mandarin May 11, 1971 - but in Avery Fisher Hall. Both
recordings (like the adjoining Prokofiev - Mussorgsky) were done in quadraphonic
sound - and it is surprising that CD notes make no mention of
this important fact. For the Concerto, "remix
engineer" was Raymond Moore, for Mandarin, "original quad
remix" was by Raymond L. Moore (presumably the same person), and
"sound mix engineer" for the entire CD is Richard King.
Recorded sound from Manhattan Center is more appealing than what is heard
Fisher where doubtless a touch of added reverberation was added.
Specific instruments can be heard coming from the four main
speakers. You are right in the middle of the orchestra, and it is
quite grand. Purists will be offended perhaps, but I think it is
absolutely stunning. The DSD processing shows what wonders were on
those original tapes, including some remarkably solid bass.
Boulez' Bartók isn't as exciting as Reiner's, to name only one other
conductor, but this fine performance is worth hearing if just for the
sonic quality. A word of caution: this SACD can be played only on
an SACD player; unfortunately, Sony did not provide regular high-quality
stereo tracks for those who do not have multi-channel
equipment and wish to play it regular two-track stereo.
Nevsky, Op. 78 MUSSORGSKY-RAVEL: Pictures at
Lili Chookasian, contralto; Westminster Choir; New York Philharmonic/Thomas Schippers,
SONY CLASSICAL SS 87711 TT: 74:07
Here's another winner from Sony, Prokofiev's cantata recorded Feb. 18, 1961,
and Pictures recorded Jan. 11, 1965, all analog recordings made, fortunately,
in the warmth of Manhattan Center. As with the Boulez Bartók, these
were recorded in quad, with spectacular results. Richard King is listed
as "sound mix engineer," Woody Pornpitaksuk as "DSD Authoring
Engineer," a job I've never heard of before. Sound is splendid, with
solid bass not suggested by LP issues of either of these performances. Schippers,
then at the peak of his short-lived career, leads a magnificent performance of
the Prokofiev and a virtuoso reading of Mussorgsky's colorful trip through the
gallery. Highly recommended - HOWEVER, this is a super audio multi-channel
recording and can be played only on an SACD player. I don't understand
why Sony didn't make this a hybrid SACD disk with high-quality stereo channels
as well as multi-channel information.