SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture; Romeo and Juliet Fantasy; March Slav — London Sym. Orch./Andre Previn – EMI (1972)/ Resonance Recordings (Hi-Q)

An expensive though hearable improvement over other releases of this legendary recording.

Published on November 20, 2012

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture; Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture; March Slav — London Symphony Orchestra/ Andre Previn – EMI (1972)/ Resonance Recordings Ltd. xrcd24  Hi-Q HIQXRCD7 [11/20/12] *****:

Another of the xrcd24 reissues of classic stereo masters. xrcds play on any standard CD player and conform to the 44.1K/16-bit CD standard, so they really shouldn’t be in our Hi-Res Section, but the sound on both this and the previously-reviewed Carmina Burana is so hi-res sonically that this time I thought I really should include them.

Andre Previn moved out of his highly successful career in Hollywood and became Music Director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1967 and a year later of the London Symphony Orchestra. During the 11 years he was with the latter he made a number of important recordings, of which this and the Carmina Burana are two. He made some with RCA but the best were with EMI and the original LPs were excellent. But the EMI CD reissues have been disappointing, with a muddy, clouded quality. So it’s nice to have these audiophile specialty reissues, though they are expensive.

Of course there’s plenty of recordings of the 1812, and it’s not a great piece of music to begin with. There’s the original loud cannon version with Antal Dorati on Mercury Living Presence, Telarc’s version with even louder cannon, and straighter versions by such people as Reiner on RCA. Previn grows the overture slowly, building to a thrilling experience in the end.  But I was surprised at the lackadaisical quality of the cannon, and strangely the first time they come in they are louder than the second time.

The Romeo and Juliet Overture is played for its full romantic effect and is probably the musical big hit of the album. I think only Stokowski got this sort of lush effect out of it, and he didn’t have as good sonics as this one.

The Hi-Q disc was mastered and manufactured at JVC’s Mastering Center in Japan, and uses the most advanced and precise methods of transferring the sound from the original master tapes to the 44.1K compact disc—similar to what their own releases and some of those from F.I.M. use. The analog signal is digitized with the JVC K2 24-bit technology, jitter and distortion are eliminated, the signal is then converted via K2 Super Coding from 24 down to 16 bit, and encoded again using a K2 DVD laser and Extended Pit-Cutting technology. And everything is controlled by JVC’s Rubidium Clock which is supposedly 10,000 times more accurate than crystal clocks. I hadn’t frankly been that impressed with the sonic enhancement of most xrcds (as well as gold CDs), but these are different. Definitely hearable.

—John Sunier




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