SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
ANTILL: Corroboree – Suite from the ballet; GOULD: Interplay ballet music – London Sym. Orch. /Sir Eugene Goossens (Antill); Morton Gould & his Orch. (Gould) – HDTT 24/96 DVD-R
Published on July 22, 2013
ANTILL: Corroboree – Suite from the ballet; GOULD: Interplay ballet music – London Sym. Orch. /Sir Eugene Goossens (Antill); Morton Gould & his Orch. (Gould) – HDTT 24/96 hi-res DVD-R HDDVD300, 39:59 *****:
High Definition Tape Transfers reissues are available in these formats, though not all their titles in all the formats: DSD 64 or 128, DXD, 24/96K DVD-V. 24/192K DVD-Audio, HQCD, and standard CD. They take commercial open reels tapes and recently also commercial LPs of music which meet the public domain copyright laws, process them using very high quality gear, and release them as either standard CDs or as the various hi-res stereo formats. (No MP3s.)
This 1959 recording of Antill’s Corroboree, engineered by Bert Whyte, has been an audiophile cult favorite ever since. The extraordinary suite from a ballet seems to be the only thing out there by the Australian composer, who created a percussion-heavy suite from which we have here five-movements—a musical evocation of an Australian Aboriginal dance ceremony. Conductor Goossens is responsible for having discovered the unusual, primitive-sounding work when he took over the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In some ways it is a sort of Australian counterpart to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. (By the way, there’s also a competing CD of the work performed by the Sydney Symphony; it doesn’t equal the fidelity of this one.)
The five selected movements are: Welcome Ceremony, Dance to the Evening Star, A Rain Dance, Procession of Totems, and Closing Fire Ceremony. Although it’s full of violent orchestral sounds with a strong emphasis on the percussion section, there are also sections at lower volumes with the percussion contributing to interesting coloristic effects. There’s no digeridoos in it, but plenty of low-register eerie sounds nevertheless. (If such a work were composed today, there probably would be.) One of the online reviewers brought up a very interesting point on the several works which supported the Futurist movement of the early 20th century—machine-music works such as Mossolov’s Iron Foundry and Honegger’s Pacific 231. Namely how the primitive evocations in the music of the Antill and Stravinsky works also easily portray the machine world.
I once had the original Everest LP of Corroboree, but got rid of it when I received the few Everest SACD reissues made by the Omega Record Group in 2001. That one was one of the few SACDs aside from the Mercury Living Presence and RCA Living Stereo series that was three discrete channels across the front. (It is currently selling on Amazon for $300!) (The upcoming Everest reissue CDs and SACDs will both be mixed down from three channels to two.) Naturally I did an A/B comparison of that with this HDTT 96/24 reissue. When using the Direct setting on my preamp, the three-channel Everest came out ahead sonically, but not by a huge margin. However, when I switched to the ProLogic IIz with height channels setting, the SACD and the HDTT DVD-R sounded identical. There was a loss of the extreme low bass end on both, but both created welcome center channel sound that made the stereo stage more deep and detailed. Considering the price difference, I would say the decision is easy here.
I have the RCA standard CD reissue of the Morton Gould work; it was also released in 1961 on an RCA 4-track open reel tape. And of course the HDTT reissue is vastly superior sonically. The work was originally a piano concerto written for Jose Iturbi, but choreographer Jerome Robbins heard it on the radio and decided it would be perfect as dance music for his new ballet. It fits right in with the style of George Gershwin, and even has a Blues movement. It now has a new title of Interplay, and as no other pianist is credited, it is presumably Gould himself who is the soloist. The work is in four movements.