The Norrington recording has much more bass, as it is recorded with closer microphone set-ups. It was done, per the liner notes in a concert hall in Stuttgart. At Westminster Cathedral, we have the kind of space for which this work was conceived. This is one work where the building is as important as the music played in it. Berlios knew that, and that is why the work requires such monumental forces. There is a BBC live performance of the Mahler 8th at Royal Albert Hall with Horenstein that has that same sense of frisson and yummy acoustics, though only in 2 channel stereo.
As I said in my review, I own all the multi-channel hi-res releases of this music and I was SO happy to hear that the early Davis recording would be released. The Abravanel, recorded in the Mormon Tabernacle, is pretty good, but the real brass choir is recorded so closely, it is painful to hear. Still the sound of the Tabernacle makes the performance sound really good.
What makes this Philips recording so special is that the engineers captured the sound of the building as well as the orchestra, choruses and soloist. There is an amazing sense of occasion and purpose to the performance which is quite fetching. The smaller moments are very sweet and lyrical, while the big moments, even with the more remote pickup, are incredibly exciting, as Davis whips everyone into a very disciplined frenzy. Compared to the Norrington, which is VERY good, the lighter bass response has to do with the size of the space. To get a Telarc-size bass drum sound in Westminster Cathedral would require something like a blasting cap... LOL On the other hand, listen for the really clear sense of pitch in the bass chords written for tympani in the Tuba Mirum and be AMAZED! That is also a benefit of the space...
As I will say again, DO NOT MISS!!!