Classical Reissue Reviews

MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat; No. 2 in D; No. 4 in d – Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin and cond./ London Philharmonic Orch. – DGG

An audiophile upgrade for some great concertos? Yes, but…

Published on March 23, 2013

MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat; No. 2 in D; No. 4 in d – Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin and cond./ London Philharmonic Orch. – DGG

MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat, K. 207; No. 2 in D, K. 211; No. 4 in d, K. 218 – Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin and cond./ London Philharmonic Orch. – DGG xrcd24 480 674, 62:43 [Distr. by Universal] ****:

This is my first exposure to the XRCD-24 bit process developed by the folks at JVC. Essentially it attempts to tighten up the mastering process by converting the digital signal, using the latest technology, to an analog signal and then re-digitizing it through a 24-bit analog-to-digital converter. The 24-bit digital word then passes through JVC’s Digital K2, which regenerates a pure 24-bit digital signal that is recorded to a Sony PCM-9000 magneto-optical disk. There is more than is done after this which is supposed to ensure the highest quality sound result, all available on standard playback equipment, and this is not surround sound.

Does it work? I suppose it does, but it depends on what you are looking for in the final result. In this case, the Mutter/Mozart Violin Concertos released in 2005, were always a little on the bright side, as have been all of DGG’s recordings for the last 60 years, though this particular one is heavier in the bass than most, to good effect. My comparative listening shows that this new release is a little brighter still, perhaps a tad more expansive in soundstage—though not by much—and definitely louder as well.  I can’t claim, as I have seen in some other reviews, that it is any clearer than the original. All in all I can think of a lot more CDs that deserved this treatment instead of the one under consideration. Owning, as I do, the original 2-CD set, would I trade up for the XRCD24? Not a chance. This is not to denigrate the product, which I have heard from other people really can make quite a difference, but in this case it is not enough of a difference to warrant a re-purchase, especially when this one disc of only three of the concertos runs about $50.

As far as the performances, they remain superb. Laurence Vittes called them “marvelous” and I concur.

—Steven Ritter




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