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Reviews: Bach: The Conductors' Transcriptions - Slatkin

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Reviews: 5

Review by lenw July 6, 2004 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I did not fully appreciate the genius of Bach until I heard this recording. The first track "Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 is brilliantly composed and executed. The master is 24/96 PCM and presents a wide and deep soundstage with plenty of air around the instruments. While I don't think this disk is on the same level as the SFS Thomas Mahler No. 6, this is nonetheless a wonderful recording. My only real negative is a loud distortion, apparently a recording glitch, which immediately follows the last track.

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Review by Marc P July 16, 2004 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I donít know anything about classical music, I just buy stuff on impulse, or after listening to some sound clips on the net. When I recognise a piece I like I tend to buy it, the same thing happened here. I saw it in a release list, looked it up on the internet and listened to the it for a while. Liked it bought it. After listening to it a couple of times I like it even more. Actually I love this album, it is by far my most played classical SACD.
After I received the disc I found out it is sourced from 24/96 PCM. And unlike some other people I am not really that bothered about it. To me this recording sounds fine even when I play it loud.
Donít have the distortion problem the other reviewer mentions.

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Review by thepilot December 4, 2004 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
What a splendid sound Slatkin gets from this fabulous orchestra! And what glorious playing! Only Stokowski had managed to play Bach transcriptions in such a magical way. The transcriptions are really memorable, especially the ones of the better known stuff. The recording only misses the last degree of transparency because of the conversion from 24/96 PCM to DSD, but is otherwise extremely realistic. Bravo Chandos, keep up the good work.

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Review by tream January 30, 2005 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a fun disc. In my dogmatic youth I would have considered this disc to be an abomination. "Bach transcriptions? Horrors! Inauthentic! Keeps us from knowing the real Bach!" Blah, blah, blah. Johann Sebastian will survive transcription, and recomposition of classic works is at least as old as Mozart's version of Handel's Messiah. The Skrowasczewski transcription of the Toccata and Fugue in d-minor and the Mitropoulos version of the Fantasia and Fugue in g minor are the most obviously original items-the former feels to me to be in the same league as the Ravel transcription of "Picture at an Exhibition". It may come as a surprise that Bach composed SIX orchestral suites-of course, two of them are by Sir Henry Wood, and the Sixth is on this SACD. No Bach-Stokowski-apparently either Slatkin or Chandos felt there are already many recorded examples. the performances seem exemplary-hard to tell when many of these are premiere recordings. The sound is typical for Chandos-slightly distant and over reverberent, at least for my taste-you are in the balcony at a hall with a longer than normal decay time. I prefer a cleaner, more analytical sound, but it is not terrible.

Recommended.

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Review by darkroommd February 17, 2007 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
As others have posted, this is a fun disc to hear. Many of our favorite Bach classics are given the Hollywood treatment, turned into big orchestral showstoppers. Since each track is arranged by a different conductor-musician, each one has its own flavor, and some are better than others.

The ubiquitous Toccata & Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) is transcribed here by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Those familiar with Leopold Stokowski's benchmark version will enjoy comparing the two. I find Stokowski's arrangement to be more musically coherent and less indulgent. Skrowaczewski throws in lots of percussion, xylophones, dramatic pauses, and drawn out decrescendos... all very fun and to good effect, but the piece sounds like a collection of disjointed episodes as a result.

On the other hand, Eugene Ormandy pulls no punches in this premiere recording of his Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. The arrangement is for strings only and is tender, warm, and satisfying. Another standout is the Air on the G String by Sir Malcolm Sargent, again not straying far from the original. From a musical perspective, the finest arrangement IMO is Sheep May Safely Graze by Barbirolli.

Sonically, it is over-reverberent and too distant for my liking. The recording lacks separation and transparency. This SACD doesn't sound any better than a good quality RBCD. At the loudest moments, there is some unpleasant distortion in the middle and upper voices. If you can listen beyond your audiophile convictions, you will enjoy this disc.

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