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Reviews: Cantate Domino - Nilsson

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Reviews: 7

Review by sgb September 17, 2003 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I could give you a three-word sentence and be done with it: "Magnificent, buy it."

But in deference to this glorious recording one that has been a favorite among audiophiles since its initial release there are a number of things that need to be said that will interest those who've enjoyed it these past 27 years, and that will come anon. For those readers who know little about this famous record, let me say first, though, that Cantate Domino is a collection of religious music primarily intended for the Christmas season.

It was recorded in the Oscarskyrkan, a church in Stockholm in 1976. It features the Oscar's Motet Choir conducted by Torsten Nilsson with soprano, Marianne Mellnäs and organist, Alf Linder. Some of the selections will be unfamiliar to American listeners but others will be known immediately, even though they are sung here in a variety of languages, French, German and Swedish among them. The choir and organist perform very well, as does the featured soprano soloist who, in fact, sings "O Holy Night" better than I had ever heard it sung before or since, for that matter. While the bulk of the recording is choral, there are several pieces for solo organ too; the album ends on a non-religious note with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" sung in English with a Swedish accent. Linder's organ accompaniement here puts one in the mind of music being played at an ice skating rink.

As for the sound, I will have to tell you that in preparation for the arrival of this SACD, I spent the past weekend and several days since listening to my three pressings of the the original LP. In my opinion, the new Proprius SACD reissue solidly trounces my trusty old LPs in any aspect of sound quality you'd care to consider. The SACD is simply more dynamic, more transparent, and dramatically clearer. There's still a high frequency edge here and there where the choir has overloaded the equipment making the original tape, but in making numerous specific comparisons, the LP simply cannot convey the same level of detail or reveal as many of the subtle nuances that make this recording so magical. The power of the organ has never seemed so real to me as it does now on this DSD transfer, and the chorus is now so well delineated that you can pick out individual voices that go unnoticed on the LP with ease.

A couple audio enthusiasts wanted to know about external noises in this recording. There are many, but I do not believe that any of these are caused by traffic outside the church, but instead by goings-on inside. This is most noticed on tracks 2 through 4 where only the organ is playing.

This one goes to the head of the class. I consider this the single best transfer from analog to DSD I have yet to hear. And, given the sound of the original tape, it may be years before this one is bettered. Recommended with no reservation whatsoever.

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Review by Vladimir January 7, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'm forced to listen to christmas music at least 3 months every year becuase my girlfriend is obsessed with christmas. So I thought, why not buy a nice sacd to listen to instead of our old booring cd's. So I went to a local store and bought this album. First time I listened to it I was almost spechless. This is not only great christmas music, this is an absolutely great album!
The sound of an organ in a church is often impressive when it's well played, and this album actually makes me fell like I'm sitting right there in the church. The choir is allso impressive, specially my favorite track on this album "Helga natt" (classic swedish christmas song) really makes me smile, this song clearly shows the superior dynamics of sacd.

This is by the way my only stereo sacd. At first I didn't understand the point of buying a stereo sacd when there are multichannel. But this album made me understand...

Just for fun, I would like to add, this is the only album which even made my old parents comment the sound quality, and they're completely unaware of sacd and dsd technology, but they do have a great intrest in music.

(Updated feb-07-2005)

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Review by Twu May 19, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I would highly recommend this SACD to anyone who enjoys the kind of music. It is absolutely great recording - very clean sound, very good frequency response over the spectrum, the ambience sound of the church is beautifully captured. Even though it's a two-channel recording, the effect of "church" is so clearly and easily reproduced, possibly on any equipment, that I double and double check to make sure it is really a stereo SACD! The sounds from the organ is truely awesome. It is powerful, and yet so sweat and so real. As truely must have SACD, at a very attractive price too! :)

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Review by mwagner1962 June 15, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I am going to join the growing chorus (no pun intended) in praising this SACD. This has been a SACD that I have wanted for a LONG time, but for some reason, never bought it. Well, enough was enough, and last week, it arrived.

Despite the fact that this recording is nearly 30 years old, the transfer to DSD was a complete success and once again proves that when you take a superb analogue master and do some great conversion...and since they are using some of the superb EMM Labs gear, you get results like this!!!

The sense of space, air, transparency, and all of the other audiophilia spew you can think of, is here in droves!!! The organ is magnificent, the choir is stunning, and the sound is not at all indicative of a recording of this age.

While this is a Christmas recording, I find most of the music to be quite listenable year round, as as there are only a few tracks that actually sound like Christmas tunes (at least to these non-European ears)....If this SACD had been full of tracks like "Santa Claus..." or "Rudolph...", I might have felt a little different.

I am now starting to become a serious fan of SACDs that are made from quality analogue masters and then transfered to DSD via EMM Labs gear. Also, this is one of a number of growing SACDs that used Pearl microphones. WaterLily Acoustic uses Pearl Microphone, and those SACDs sound superb as well.

This SACD is HIGHLY recommended!!!!

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Review by tentimestwenty December 10, 2005 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I concur with the previous reviews of this SACD. Absolutely superb. However, one note about the CD layer. It seems to sound inferior to the original CD issue I have. The overall volume is higher and there seems to be more distortion and less dynamic range. As well, there is a touch less harmonic warmth. This is splitting hairs in the grand scheme. The recording here stands as an all time reference. In regards to the background noises I am quite sure that is the sound of the organ itself with the various vibrations and resonances it makes. You hear the same types of noises on many organ recordings.

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Review by Amfibius October 10, 2006 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well I disagree with the above review. I have Cantate Domino on LP, CD, and now SACD. The CD layer on the SACD sounds the same or maybe slightly better than the CD only version.

I must join in the agreement in recommending this disc. The quality of the sound takes your breath away. Tellingly, it even sounds good in my car. The deeeeeeeeeeeep bass of the pipe organs and the superbly recorded chorale will be a sore test of your hi-fi system. Cantate Domino has been my test disc for years, and this SACD is even better than the LP.

I have to subtract 1/2 a star from sound quality because of some minor tape hiss. I consider myself a hard marker, so 4 1/2 stars is a very high achievement indeed :)

The familiar carols that you hear are certainly rendered in a different fashion to what you would be used to. The rendition is devout and religious. They have certainly achieved what they set out to achieve. The melodies are very pleasant and very well executed, but I have Christmas Music burnout and can only listen to the same carol so many times, no matter how well sung ... so I give 3 1/2 stars for performance.

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Review by analogue February 24, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:
Proprius has done another magnificent sacd transfer from their master tapes. This is fabulously recorded and a real audio treat for the ears.

Songs and vocals recorded in a church in the mid 70's. If you like this sort of music you will be shocked at how good this sacd sounds. It is considered, and rightfully so, a landmark audiophile recording.

How do I describe the sound? warm, realistic, alive, touching and incredibly beautiful. You can feel that you are listening not just to music but an actual event recorded in time and space.

Very , very gorgeous sound and recording.

Superb job Proprius.

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