SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

JEAN SIBELIUS: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor Op. 47; Tapiola – tone poem – Tossy Spivakovsky, violin/ London Symphony Orch./ Tauno Hannikainen – (Dual Disc from 35mm master – CD + DualDisc of DVD-A/DVD-Video, 2 or 3-channel) Everest/Classic

Excellent transfer of Everest original, but aced out by Heifetz three-channel SACD.

Published on July 5, 2010

JEAN SIBELIUS: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor Op. 47; Tapiola – tone poem – Tossy Spivakovsky, violin/ London Symphony Orch./ Tauno Hannikainen – (Dual Disc from 35mm master – CD + DualDisc of DVD-A/DVD-Video, 2 or 3-channel) Everest/Classic

JEAN SIBELIUS: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor Op. 47; Tapiola – tone poem Op. 112 – Tossy Spivakovsky, violin/ London Symphony Orchestra/ Tauno Hannikainen – Dual Disc from 35mm master – CD + DualDisc of DVD-A/DVD-Video, 2 or 3-channel, Everest/Classic Records HDAD 2030 [Distr. by Naxos], 46.5 min. ****:

Sibelius’ one and only violin concerto was completed in 1903 and has been one of the virtuoso standards of the form ever since. It has no special program, and has been dubbed by one authority as “cosmopolitan Swedish traditionalism.” Sibelius once described its final movement as a Danse Macabre, although it features the rhythm of a polonaise. While most of the Everest/Classic Records HDADs contain only a single work, this one adds a “filler” of the composer’s fine tone poem which honors Finland’s ancient forests.

This is another of the Golden Age Everest recordings made on 35mm film by the label’s Bert Whyte in 1960, using the acoustically-acclaimed Walthamstow Assembly Hall in London. Classic’s engineers worked directly from the original 35mm mag film masters, which had five times the oxide thickness and wider tracks for the three channels than standard recording tape, and could achieve a more robust sonic and lower noise without noise reduction. They also used an all-tube system. Although some of the mag films were beginning to deteriorate in 2006 – when these reissues were done – this one comes thru without problems and sounds fabulous in the 3-channel 96K/24-bit option.

Containing two discs – one of which is a dual disc – these reissues are quite advanced productions and thus appropriately priced. The Sibelius concerto has the competition on SACD of the Jascha Heifetz’ three-channel recording of 1959, and at RCA’s mid-price level.  Heifetz’ violin tone is richer and the orchestra is the Chicago Symphony under Walter Hendl.  In addition, violin concertos of Prokofiev and Glazunov are also included on the SACD, making it probably the better choice of the two.

 – John Sunier




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