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Reviews: Mozart: Horn Concertos - Dennis Brain

Reviews: 1

Review by old-dog-newtricks December 30, 2011 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have been tempted to write this review as, of all the new discs I have bought recently this is the one I have returned to most over the Christmas period. It is the only one of the newly issued Japanese EMI re-issues I have yet bought so my comments must only apply to this issue.
It is a recording with which I am very familiar having owned it in the past in its vinyl and RBCD forms. I can only listen to the stereo layer so cannot comment on the Mch.
Enough has been written in the past about the performance and this has become one of the benchmark performances of the Mozart Horn Concertos from a legendary performer who sadly died far too prematurely. It is stylistically and technically superb. But what of the sound, which is now approaching 60 years old?
EMI originally captured the lovely tone of Brain's playing perfectly and the new SACD transfer handles it well. Best described by Flanders and Swan as 'A lovely sound, so rich and round.' The soloist stands clear of the orchestra with tangible space around him. This is of course a mono recording but it is easy to forget that, even in the 2 track offering. Some measure of ambience is there but less than I would expect in a modern DSD or hires recording, the sound dying more abruptly. I listened to the excellent horn concerto disc from Channel (CCS SA30210, Jasper De Waal) for comparison. The main difference is to be heard in the orchestral sound. The Channel recording exemplifies the best in DSD sound with clear textures and very smooth overall sound quality. The EMI is a little less detailed but I have to say the overall string sound is a vast improvement on previous CD incarnations and much nearer the LP sound.
It is probably unfair to even attempt to compare 60 year old recording with up to date material but if the transfer to SACD gives us at least as good as the original we should be happy. I bought it for the music and the performance which is what all the current batch of EMI Japan releases should be about.
I really do not know whether this is DSD or PCM transfer from analogue but would suspect PCM. However, what I wanted was to have a non vinyl version of this classic performance which I could listen to over and over without consigning it to the scrap heap like my previous RBCD version and I am sure I now have it with this SACD.

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