I've posted repeatedly how satisfied I am with the BIS SACD's that I've purchased, and how entirely unjustified, uncalled-for, and just plain wrong the ceaseless criticisms leveled against Robert and BIS were, condemning the choice of sampling rate, especially when practically no one was able to actually tell the difference, and NOT A ONE making the criticisms was himself (or herself) a qualified, professional recording engineer. (I sure hope this doesn't stir up the pot yet again!)
Recently, a member of my church choir asked me for a recommendation for discs of classical music for him to purchase as a Christmas gift for his adult son. His son has only recently discovered classical music, and is very interested in expanding both his knowledge and library of it. I thought of a few discs, and then said that there was really only ONE choice: The Vanska/BIS Beethoven collection. I told my friend that each and every symphony is played to perfection by Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra, and the sound of all the discs is nothing less than superb. On top of this is the incredibly low price for the five discs: less than $36!!
And so, he bought the set, but rather than give it to his son, he kept it for himself! He is familiar with most of the Beethoven symphonies, and owns only a few recordings of them. So far, he's flat out astonished at that which he's listened to. Only last night he told me that, after listening to the 7th Symphony, he found Vanska's interpretation "fresh and imaginative" providing an experience not unlike hearing the symphony for the first time. He was also blown away by the BIS engineering that allows him (and anyone else listening to any of these recordings) to hear all the musical detail, often obscured in other recordings, and often not heard even at a live performance.
I continually "tweak" my system, and then play a number of recordings to see whether or not I've done anything to improve its sound. I performed yet another one of those tweaks yesterday, and coincidentally, used the Vanska/7th to check out the results. I too was mightily impressed with the piece, once again, even after having listened to it literally dozens of times.
I've also posted recently my less than totally enthusiastic response to the Suk "Asrael" Symphony, and have to say that my opinion there hasn't changed much. The music itself still hasn't grown on me, and while the recorded sound is generally at least excellent, it doesn't stand up to the best I've heard from BIS. That praise, at least as far as the BIS discs that I own, goes to the Neeme Jarvi recording of "Tchaikovsky's 3rd Symphony."
While Jarvi's performance (and the recorded sound) of Tchaikovsky's 3rd is nothing less than outstanding, I was in no way prepared for the gut-pounding dynamics of the "Entr'acte and Dances of the Chambermaids" from "The Voyevoda." This particular track has now found itself at the very top of the heap as THE demonstration piece for me to use to show off my system! Simply phenomenal!
I know I could have simply written all of this in an email to Robert/Bissie, but I felt it was too important not to share with other sa_cd.net members.