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Discussion: Elgar: Symphony No. 2 - Oramo

Posts: 12
Page: 1 2 next

Post by akiralx April 14, 2013 (1 of 12)
This could be interesting, timings below:

1. I. Allegro vivace e nobilmente e semplice 17'33
2. II. Larghetto 14'00
3. III. Rondo. Presto 7'36
4. IV. Moderato e maestoso 15'02

Seems to be quite a measured account, with a slow account of the Larghetto, not that I'm complaining.

Post by Johnno April 14, 2013 (2 of 12)
akiralx said:

This could be interesting, timings below:

1. I. Allegro vivace e nobilmente e semplice 17'33
2. II. Larghetto 14'00
3. III. Rondo. Presto 7'36
4. IV. Moderato e maestoso 15'02

Seems to be quite a measured account, with a slow account of the Larghetto, not that I'm complaining.

I agree. This could be a most interesting release. Oramo is a fine conductor. I'm used to Boult's final recording of the work and that's pretty laid back too.

Post by akiralx April 27, 2013 (3 of 12)
I was being too circumspect in my review - the organ is clearly present for a short passage in the Finale.

I don't normally like this in the few recordings I've heard which have it, but it is very well done here.

Post by diw May 18, 2013 (4 of 12)
Anyone able to compare this with the Hickox? I am also curious as to whether anyone has info on whether the other Elgar symphony will be released by these forces.

Post by Jonalogic June 8, 2013 (5 of 12)
Yep, sorry to say, but give me the Hickox any day. Not simply because of the interpretation and the coupling of the gorgeous 'In the South', but because of the inferior SQ on this much later recording.

I regret to say that I find it very multi-miked artificial and in-yer-face, with no coherent hall sound worth mentioning. But the clincher for me is the low bit-rate PCM thinness and screeching of the string sound. In this day and age? C'mon, surely we can do better than 24/44.1k? I have heard decent enough recordings at this bit rate, but this sure ain't one of them.

Post by wehecht June 8, 2013 (6 of 12)
For two guys who've probably spent thousands of hours attending live concerts it's curious but not particularly unusual for Jon and I to find ourselves on the opposite sides of a sound quality discussion. This owes in large part, I think, not just to two sets of gear that could hardly be more different, but to the fact that we expect different things from home music reproduction even if we both identify the desired end result as the closest possible approximation to what we hear in the hall.

In direct comparison of these two discs I find the Oramo decidedly more compelling both as a performance and recording. Yes, it's somewhat primary colored, not a description I'd normally associate with Elgar, but I've always found the 2nd symphony difficult, too slow, almost ponderous when played like Hickox does it, and at least under Oramo's baton it has life and guts. It's one of the few recordings of the piece I've ever found holding my attention from beginning to end and the recording matches the interpretation. Hickox may be more refined, smoother, more elegant , more British or Elgarian (I can't quite find the right words so forgive me, I mean no offense to our British friends), but to my ears he's ultimately soporific, and Chandos' bland recording supports his interpretation perfectly.

Post by Jonty June 8, 2013 (7 of 12)
Is there a marked difference between the recording of the symphony and Sospiri, and the Elegy?

Post by bissie June 8, 2013 (8 of 12)
diw said:

Anyone able to compare this with the Hickox? I am also curious as to whether anyone has info on whether the other Elgar symphony will be released by these forces.

Yes. The S1 has been recorded, but not the coupling (Cockaigne), so release only in 2014.

Robert

Post by Jonalogic June 9, 2013 (9 of 12)
wehecht said:

For two guys who've probably spent thousands of hours attending live concerts it's curious but not particularly unusual for Jon and I to find ourselves on the opposite sides of a sound quality discussion. This owes in large part, I think, not just to two sets of gear that could hardly be more different, but to the fact that we expect different things from home music reproduction even if we both identify the desired end result as the closest possible approximation to what we hear in the hall.

...

Bill hi

Thanks. Interesting, indeed. But - as always - 'de gustibus non est disputandum' applies here.

I find it particularly interesting that you find Hickox ponderous. The two timings are overall very similar, and it's very noticeable to me that the 'spirit of delight' allegro vivace at the very start of the symphony actually sounds far more like that in the Hickox reading than in Oramo's.

Please don't get me wrong; I find the Oramo reading, overall, clean and expressive, but - for me - less idiomatic than Hickox. The Hickox is clealy in the Boult echt-British mould (and how could it be otherwise?) and that clinches it for me. Yes, I am a Brit, I'm afraid...

Sound quality. I think I can - at least in part - understand our comparative observations here.

To start. Yes, I agree the Hickox sound is indeed rather bland and muffled - despite its claimed DSD (yeh, really?) origin. It's decidedly not top Chandos in SQ. But that still trumps the much later BIS SQ for me since 1) I simply cannot abide PCM string sound - which the BIS has in spades and 2) because, as a confirmed live concert goer, I do like a bit of genuine hall sound, which the BIS does not offer.

Yes, we do indeed have very different equipment. Strangely, though, I still have a Denon 3910 living upstairs: it was actually my very first SACD player. So I am familar with its overall sound and voicing. Although a very fine piece of kit, it does - to my ears - have a rather softened top end when equipped with the original (i.e. non-modded) electronics; this might, perhaps, explain why the gritty and thin strings on the BIS doen't bother you so much as they do me? I concede that my Esoteric/Goldmund/Martin Logan chain is utterly ruthless at revealing top-end issues like this, but that's the way I like it.

Moreover, your Denon 3910 will certainly not like recessed recordings like the Chandos - I should know, it failed to knock me out when I first played it. My current Esoteric does a much better job, however, in decoupling the fudge that manifests on poorer Chandos recordings.

Just an idea.

Cheers

Jon

Post by wehecht June 10, 2013 (10 of 12)
Hi back, Jon

My baptism in audio was with a system featuring AR3a speakers which, to put it charitably, rolled off a bit in the upper octaves (ideal for playing the notoriously aggressive 60's and 70's Columbia Masterworks lps that were apparently equalized for AM radio play). Later as speakers, even box types, began to reproduce the high end of the audible spectrum more accurately and lps gave way to cds my taste in amplification changed as well, first to tubes, which were a damned nuisance, and then to Musical Fidelity class A stuff plus a Musical Fidelity tube buffer stage between cd player and pre-amp (I still use that for playing cds). For various reasons (mostly to accommodate the move to multichannel while preserving domestic tranquility) the "high end" kit has given way to decent quality mid-market stuff. In any event I guess it's true that I'm acclimated to equipment that's not as revealing of edginess in the highs as yours.

Not to worry, however. If you've been following the discussion about the benefits of warming up your discs by replaying them repeatedly you've already seen the way to reconcile our viewpoints, as evidenced by this howler: "As the disc warms up, it expands, and the zeroes and ones get chubby and round, as does the sound: fuller bass, creamier strings, fatter guitar riffs. Also, the space between the chubbed-up data increases, so the sound becomes more expansive as well, while the soundstage deepens and widens comensurately. It's just simple physics."

But since playing a disc repeatedly for hours prior to listening seems unnecessarily time consuming I submit that the solution is for you to microwave your pcm discs before listening while I put mine in the freezer for a while. De gustibus indeed. All the best,

Bill

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