SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture; Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture; Marche Slave – London Sym. Orch./ André Previn – EMI/ Hi-Q vinyl

Get this for the Romeo and Juliet Overture, not the 1812.

Published on October 20, 2013

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture; Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture; Marche Slave – London Sym. Orch./ André Previn – EMI/ Hi-Q vinyl

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture; Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture; Marche Slave – London Symphony Orch./ André Previn – EMI (1972)/ Hi-Q Records audiophile vinyl HIQLP007 ****:

This is a 2010 vinyl reissue from the Resonance Recordings Ltd., of one of the many excellent EMI masters of the past.  This one was made in the famed Kingsway Hall in London and engineered by Christopher Parker.  The Supercuts audiophile master was made at Abbey Road Studios from the original analog master tapes, and the fidelity is probably a major improvement over the original EMI LP, though I didn’t have it at hand to do a comparison. Most of these Hi-Q reissues have been made available in both vinyl and xrcd24 formats. I have usually found them nearly identical, and the xrcds are usually somewhat less expensive. But perhaps if you own an unusually high quality turntable system…

The Romeo and Juliet Overture, which takes up the second side of this disc, is the main attraction here. It came out of a friendship between Tchaikovsky and the Russian composer Balakirev. It is a gorgeous performance, with great fire and emotion. The work was first performed in 1870 and continues to captivate audiences, especially in such a forceful and strong performance as this one. The Marche Slave is an interesting encore item and includes the Russian National Anthem, so it can’t lose with audience there.

The almost-embarassing overture for Tchaikovsky is his 1812, far from the greatest thing he ever composed.  This one isn’t the No. 1 choice among collectors. It has plenty of noisy enthusiasm early on, but it lacks the cannon near the end of some of the other recorded versions—such as Telarc’s—and seems to sort of peter out at the conclusion rather than being a tremendous and grandious big finish.  In fact the so-called cannon sound like little non-black-powder substitutes.

—John Sunier




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