The latest issue of Fanfare (January/February 04) arrived at my house last night and notably contains a handful of indepth reviews of SACD's by muliple reviewers using SACD front ends-Andrew Quint, James Reel, and Peter Burwasser (who reviews the first SACD from ECM. Bernard Jacobson also reviews the DVD-A of Elgar's 3rd on Naxos, and wonders what the point of the production was, since the accompanying video is pointless. He liked the sound, by the way, and does like the performance (he likes Colin Davis even better) and, by the way, has written favorably of SACD recordings in the past (Jacobson is a big fan of SACD).
Quint was favorably inclined towards the Pentatone Dvorak 9, the Chandos VW Sym 3, had a measured response to the Pentatone Saint-Saens and Wagner overture discs, a negative response to the music on the Lloyd cello cto on Albany (positive on the sound, though). Burwasser was positive on the Hartke ECM disc. Reel had a favorable view of the Herschel symphonies on Chandos as a production while not being bowled over by the music.
What I appreciate about Fanfare's approach to SACD vs Gramophone's is that, by and large, many reviewers are treating SACD as a core technology for reproduction of music, rather than the quarterly roundup approach employed by Gramophone. This doesn't mean that all is perfect at Fanfare-several reviewers clearly do not have SACD capability and several releases that could have been commented on as SACD's were not-for example, the Pentatone Haydn release - you would not even know this was an SACD by reading Colin Anderson's review. This is something that needs to be corrected (in fact, I think I will write to Joel Flegler, the editor, founder, etc. of Fanfare, about this).
I urge all members of this forum who are interested in classical music to check out Fanfare, if they haven't already. The style is quite different than Gramophone (to which I also suscribe, and enjoy) - less emphasis on musical personalities and more on the music itself. It also has more of an American bias (although several of the reviewers are English), which is a nice counterpoint to the Gramophone's relentless Anglophilism. Last, with the difficult times faced by the classical music industry, advertising revenues are down and the magazine is having tough times. It deserves your support.
The website is www.fanfaremag.com