Review by Beagle February 3, 2010 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
|WORKING MY WAY THROUGH THE FONÉS No. 2
I confess, I am VERY fond of Verdi's Quartetto in mi minore. He must have been saying to himself for years if not decades, "One of these days I'm going to write a quartet", the way you or I might say "One of these days I'm going to get a gym membership and lose ten kilos/twenty pounds". Well, there he was, checked into the hotel in Napoli, ready to première 'Aida' -- and the damned soprano took ill! Maybe it was raining (it was March)... he was trapped -- so he wrote the damn thing. Of the results he said, "I don't know whether the quartet is beautiful or ugly, but I do know that it's a Quartet!". Personally, I think it is perhaps the most lovely of quartets, if a bit operatic.
So I was very excited to see this quartet appear on SACD -- plus a quartet-version of 'Rigoletto' for good measure -- and played by La Scala musicians. What could be better?
Here's better: (1) it is on an audiophile label, Foné, (2) it is sound-engineered by Giulio Cesare Ricci, (3) it is recorded with Neumann valve-microphones (4) as Direct Stream Digital and (5) processed on the Pyramix.... Are you excited yet? Reaching for your credit card to place an order?
WAIT... I put this disc on the Shanling right after the rather gorgeous sounding Foné disc Concerts and Follies in Pergolesi's time - I Musici* -- and my wife said, "What's wrong with the sound?". I was wondering the same thing. Had I purchased a vintage recording in mono (like the 1928 'Trout' on Gewandhaus-Quartett in Concert), was it recorded in the purist's dreaded 'anechoic chamber' -- or as my wife suggested, "in the hallway down from the cloakroom where they were rehearsing."?
Something is very wrong with the sonics captured on this disc (but nothing wrong with the music-making, it's just hard to hear). What a shock after the Tempo di Pergolesi disc... the only difference (other than works and artists) being the VENUE: The I Musici di Roma were recorded in "Casa di Spiritualità S.Teresa", and they sound very spirited; the Quartetto d'archi della Scalla were recorded in the "Museo di Icone Russe" (Museum of Russian Ikons), and they sound, rather appropriately, flat like a painted panel.
Artists -- and by extension recording engineers -- take chances; you win a few, you lose a few, Eh, Signor Ricci?
*cf Working my way through the Fonés No. 1.
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