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Reviews: Sibelius, Walton: Violin Concertos - Akiko Suwanai

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Reviews: 5

Review by Dinko August 4, 2003 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Good though it may be, Akiko Suwanai's Sibelius is not one I would take with me on a desert island. Her Walton might be, but only because this is the first time I hear the complete Walton violin concerto. Although in comparison with the Sibelius, the Walton concerto gets a more energetic and committed performance from all involved.
Sakari Oramo and the City of Bermingham Symphony provide Akiko Suwanai with excellent support in the Sibelius, but they truly shine in the Walton concerto where soloist, conductor and orchestra sound almost as one entity.

Sonically, the multichannel mix is more aggressive in the rear speakers than most classical music SACD mixes I have encountered so far. At times it sounds as if the listener is right in front of the orchestra with music flowing from all directions. This is most impressive in the Walton concerto where a huge number of details can be heard clearly, while natural orchestral balance is mostly preserved. The sound stage is wide and deep without excessive reverb. While aiming for detail and transparancy, too many orchestral recordings end up having either squeeky or bodiless brass sections, not here: the brass is full-bodied and crystalline without being too loud and obnoxious.

Like other Philips SACDs originally recorded in DSD, this one's a keeper.

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Review by Chris February 17, 2004 (7 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is my first Philips classics orchestral SACD and I can only agree with the two other reviews here.This is a fantastic record.It is very well recorded with easily the best recorded violin I´ve ever heard in any digital format. Akiko Suwanai plays Heifetz´s old "Strad" close to perfection IMO. In these two very good 20th century violin concertos, everything is captured realistically from the whispering violins at the start of the Sibelius concerto,to some impressive climaxes without even a hint of digital edge or hardness.Impressive.My only complaint would be that the violin is maybe a bit too closely recorded.And I would have liked to hear a bit more ambience captured.But this is still the first SACD where I just can´t withold the five star rating for sound quality.The only comparison I´ve made is Christian Ferras who plays the Sibelius on a DGG LP,and good as he is Akiko is even better I think.
I have so far only listened in Stereo via Sennheiser 650s and Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 tube headphone amp.

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Review by nickc April 24, 2004 (8 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
What can i say? Stunning playing, stunning recording...anyone who has the slightest interest in classical music must buy this disc! The only other sacd I own that I can compare it to is the Dvorak 8 and 9 from Ivan Fischer and surprise, surprise the recording engineer was the same in both discs. Mr Roger de Schot I would like to state here you are a magician, a genius, and I take off my hat to you. In MC it is almost better than being there - when the cellos and basses play you almost don't hear them you just feel a huge black mass emanating from the right. I've never felt that in the Melbourne COncert Hall (casting no aspersions on the Melbourne Symphony!) If you could give out rosettes on this site i would for only the second or third time to this disc.

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Review by gonzostick July 18, 2008 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
DO NOT MISS THIS!!! I had to order a copy from Caiman in Canada via Amazon. The Walton is PHENOMENAL. I think this performance can stand next to the Heifetz premiere recording of 1941. The playing is so good and self-assuredly virtuosic it will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!

The Sibelius almost gets to the Heifetz Living Stereo performance level and is almost spot on! It has all the rhythmic vitality lacking in the recent disastrous and overly-hyped RBCD Hillary Hahn performance, which is dismal. In that case the conductor does not agree with Hahn's conception and he just phones in his performance, so the dance rhythms never bounce and take flight.

The sonics are good, though the violin is a little too close, considering the orchestral perspective for the complete ensemble. On the other hand, with playing this wonderful, that is a good problem to have.

Not an easy disc to get, but worth every penny!


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Review by atolones September 23, 2014 (0 of 15 found this review helpful)
This SACD is out of print and thus very expensive (a shame!) because of speculation. Waiting for a SACD-R version. Go go go!

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