Review by canonical February 20, 2010 (7 of 12 found this review helpful)
|* Performance: I am in full agreement with Geohominid's review on the performance which is very fine, on all levels, and particularly so when one considers that this is a live performance with exceptional ensemble work.
* Sonics (stereo):
One can tell in the first 20 seconds that there are problems with the recording (stereo). There are two main issues here:
1) This recording doesn't sound hi-rez at all. It doesn't sound like it is an SACD: it just sounds like a run of the mill redbook CD. Curious, I went looking for details on the recording resolution. The external CD cover states, on the rear, that this is a '24 bit digital recording', but they oddly refrain from stating what sampling rate was used. Sonically, it would appear that a standard CD sampling rate of 44.1 kHz was used . I contacted both Signum Records and the recording engineer to verify the sampling rate, ... but no reply has been forthcoming from either. Ultimately, how it was recorded is mostly irrelevant if it sounds drab, and this pudding sounds drab.
2) The sonic problems extend beyond resolution. The singers (who should sound near the front) sound distant, whereas the percussion (who should sound to the rear) sound close-up and vibrant (no problem with dynamic range); the Royal Festival Hall acoustic is plainly poor, there is no warmth, no richness to the sound, it's all very redbook-ish ... And if it sounds redbook-ish, ... not even good redbook-ish, ... then how can one recommend it as an SACD?
I suspect that at least some of these problems are related to the fact that this was recorded at a live performance, which can impose all sorts of constraints on the recording process (such as where mikes are placed to try avoid audience noise), as well as the inability to fix things up in the event that one discovers that the recording has not gone well. And this recording plainly is not up to contemporary high-rez standards. It is far from clear that it is hi-rez at all. It's a great pity, because it is a very fine performance.
PROGRAMME NOTES: Very good indeed
RESOLUTION: Not stated -- sounds no better than standard CD. Most likely 24 bit, 44.1 kHz or 48kHz
SUPER JEWEL BOX: No (they use a standard old redbook CD flip case)
PERFORMANCE: 4 stars
RECORDING: 2 stars
Update 23 Feb 2010: Just received an email from the engineer confirming that it is 24 bit / 44.1 kHz (see discussion)
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