SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

BEETHOVEN: Overtures = The Ruins Of Athens, Op.113; Coriolan, Op.62; Leonore, No.1, Op.138; The Creatures Of Prometheus, Op.43; Egmont; Leonore, No.3; Fidelio – Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis – Stereo-only SACD Sony/TEAC

TEAC/Esoteric has released a number of specially remastered stereo SACDs, and what an excellent job has been done.

Published on January 2, 2009

BEETHOVEN: Overtures = The Ruins Of Athens, Op.113; Coriolan, Op.62; Leonore, No.1, Op.138; The Creatures Of Prometheus, Op.43; Egmont; Leonore, No.3; Fidelio – Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis – Stereo-only SACD Sony/TEAC

BEETHOVEN: Overtures = The Ruins Of Athens, Op.113; Coriolan, Op.62; Leonore, No.1, Op.138; The Creatures Of Prometheus, Op.43; Egmont, Op.84; Leonore, No.3, Op.72a; Fidelio, Op.72b – Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis – Stereo-only SACD Esoteric Company TGDG 90013; 63:00 ***** [www.teac.com/esoteric]:

This fine collection of overtures by Beethoven was recorded by Sony in 1985 and released soon afterwards. Played with fire as well as a dash of Bavarian Gemütlichkeit, these recordings are excellent examples of Sir Colin Davis’s long connection with the orchestra. There is warmth in the playing, the bass instruments well balanced and the woodwind soloists’ contributions are especially noteworthy with lovely sounds from the flute and bassoon in particular. Indeed, some may find this sort of playing a little too comfortable – no hard sticks for the tymps, for a start – though I am not among those.

Esoteric has released a number of specially remastered SACDs, and what an excellent job has been done on these recordings, now getting on for a quarter of a century old. Originally recorded by David Mottley and Wolfram Graul on 29-31 October 1985 in the excellent acoustics of the orchestra’s home, the Herculessaal, Munich, the restoration from the original master tapes is very impressive indeed.

For the DSD remastering process equipment used included the Esoteric D-01 D/A convertor, the Esoteric GORb master clock generator, and Esoteric Mexcel interconnect cables. The project was supervised by Okihiko Sugano, Japanese recording engineer and reviewer, and produced by Motoako Ohmachi, President of TEAC Esoteric himself. Packaging consists of a deluxe hard-backed digipak, with extensive notes in Japanese and an English summary. I mention these details to illustrate the care lavished on this reissue.

The sound is glorious – as good an example as any to demonstrate how good older digital recordings can sound. On my Linn Activ system, the sound is untiring with no hint of digititis. Esoteric’s website will direct interested purchasers to their nearest Esoteric outlet who will place an order; otherwise these SACDs are available from Japanese Internet sellers. Even more good news is the imminent release of three SACDs harvested from Decca’s vaults, Mozart piano concertos with Curzon and Britten, Dvorak’s Ninth from Vienna with Kertesz, and De Falla with Ansermet and his Suisse-Romande Orchestra. I am very much looking forward to hearing these, too!

– Peter Joelson




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