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Discussion: Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 - Curzon

Posts: 14
Page: 1 2 next

Post by volund February 2, 2005 (1 of 14)
I have to wonder what's up here because my RBCD copy of this performance on Decca Legends has superb sound. Sure, there is some residual tape hiss, but I find it easy to ignore, especially given the overall immediacy and palpable texture of Decca's engineering c.1961, or so. Other than the analog tape hiss, I would in no way characterize the sound of this recording on RBCD as being dated. Has anyone else heard the new Universal Japan SACD transfer?

Post by volund February 2, 2005 (2 of 14)
Below is the text of stvnharr's review which prompted my comments above. Note that I have not heard the SACD version, and I know only the Decca Legends RBCD.

-Volund


Review by stvnharr Yesterday 05:14 pm

This is a fine performance here of the First Brahms Piano Concerto by Clifford Curzon and George Szell. This was one of the Decca Legends series and has been a Gramophone Recommended Recording for a long time. I looked forward to getting this disc. However, the sound here is not the best, dated is a word that quickly come to mind. Thus, Id have to say that this disc represents a rather poor value given its price and poor sound.

Post by stvnharr February 2, 2005 (3 of 14)
I never heard the Decca Legends cd version of this, only the sacd. To me the music just didn't sound as good as other sacd's that I have. The filler pieces, Franck and Litolff, actually sounded a bit better than the Brahms, especially the Litolff.

Also, I remember the very first post from WolfE on these universal discs, and he mentioned that the sound of some were really no better than cd's. And I think this Brahms disc likely is in somewhat that same category.

I found the other 2 universal discs that I purchased, the Vivaldi that I did a short review of and the Sibelius 5/7 had excellent sound.

Post by mdt February 2, 2005 (4 of 14)
stvnharr said:




I found the other 2 universal discs that I purchased, the Vivaldi that I did a short review of and the Sibelius 5/7 had excellent sound qualities typical of sacd's.

there is no soundquality typical of SA-CDs. What is typical for SA-CDs is that they have no soundquality of their own but they transfer with absolut neutrality the soundquality of the material transfered to them. Since the quality that can be achieved with studio level analog or with hires digital exceeds the quality that RBCD is capable of, SA-CD will out perform RBCD if such source material is used, not because of some "better sound of SA-CD" but because of minimal loss.

Post by Johnno February 2, 2005 (5 of 14)
This has long been my favourite recorded performance of this masterpiece, combining what I might term aristocratic pianism with dynamic conducting, where the two seem to complement each other perfectly, plus superb orchestral playing from the LSO and the original Decca LP had stunning sound to match, which the two CD versions I have (original release and the even finer Legends)aren't far short of.

I'd be deeply disappointed if the DSD/SACD transfer didn't match the sound of the LP and the Legends CD!

Post by stvnharr February 3, 2005 (6 of 14)
mdt said:

there is no soundquality typical of SA-CDs. What is typical for SA-CDs is that they have no soundquality of their own but they transfer with absolut neutrality the soundquality of the material transfered to them. Since the quality that can be achieved with studio level analog or with hires digital exceeds the quality that RBCD is capable of, SA-CD will out perform RBCD if such source material is used, not because of some "better sound of SA-CD" but because of minimal loss.

I have corrected my wording errors.

Also, I may have been overly harsh about the sound quality of the disc. The sound isn't bad or anything, just not as good as I have come to expect from Japanese discs. Though I have never heard the Legends cd or original LP, I would expect that the sacd is a bit better than either.

Post by mdt February 3, 2005 (7 of 14)
stvnharr said:

Though I have never heard the Legends cd or original LP, I would expect that the sacd is a bit better than either.

There are several possibilitys here. Firstly it depends on wether the best avaylable source was used for producing the "Legends" release. If not the biggest potential for improovement would be in using that best source for the SA-CD in a carefull transfer. Should the existing 24/96 remaster from the Legends release be used (most likely imo) for the SA-CD an improovement would still result because there is no loss through down-conversion to 16/44.1
Best possible result would be by doing a new transfer of the best source material directly to DSD but i'm affraid thats rather unlikely.

Post by sgb February 6, 2005 (8 of 14)
I am troubled by a few statements in this thread that concern themselves with the ability of DSD mastering to faithfully reproduce what's on the master tape.I don't doubt for an instant, however, that a meticulously prepared transfer to the medium could come considerably closer to the sound of the master tape than conventional CD transfer could. But that possibility is dependent on a number of conditions.

What's missing from the various explications above are three very important factors: the approach that the engineer has taken, the quality of the master tape as it exists when he/she undertook making the transfer, and finally, and, perhaps, most importantly, the extent to which modern day tape recorders can mimic the sound of the tape machines on which the recording was originally made. Based upon the dismal sound I've heard on so many SA-CD reissues, it appears to me as if many of the frequenters to this board have not had the chance to hear what they sounded like in their original LP releases as much as 50 years ago.

I am particularly troubled to read that these expensive Japanese releases might not equal what we had given to us in the Decca Legends and Classics series of the nineties. As poor as the majority of these were when compared to original Decca LPs, I was hoping for some substantial improvements. I've orderd a few of these from Red Trumpet, but they have not arrived yet.

Post by zeus February 6, 2005 (9 of 14)
sgb said:

I am particularly troubled to read that these expensive Japanese releases might not equal what we had given to us in the Decca Legends and Classics series of the nineties. As poor as the majority of these were when compared to original Decca LPs, I was hoping for some substantial improvements. I've orderd a few of these from Red Trumpet, but they have not arrived yet.

I have three of the Universal Japan transfers (and have just ordered more). Two of these overlap with original vinyl pressings I still own. I thought the strings on Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets - Quartetto Italiano slightly abrasive so I pulled out the vinyl and it was the same in this respect. Overall the new SA-CD bettered the vinyl (on my kit). Another, Debussy: Orchestral Works - Haitink is clearly better on SA-CD than I've ever heard it ... though it may have gone through PCM processing (it sounds amazingly clean).

How much an advance these are over the corresponding Decca Legends and Philips 50 issues and whether they're worth the expense will be up to individual's tastes, equipment, setup etc. I look forward to hearing even more from these SA-CDs when I upgrade my player.

If you order two or more, it's cheaper to buy these directly from amazon.co.jp (shipping included).

Post by sgb February 7, 2005 (10 of 14)
zeus said:

If you order two or more, it's cheaper to buy these directly from amazon.co.jp (shipping included).

Shipping is also free at Red Trumpet on orders over $30.

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