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Discussion: Beethoven: Symphonies - Cluytens

Posts: 22
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Post by james_joyce July 24, 2015 (11 of 22)
My discs arrived the other day. So far I've listened to bits of 3,4,6 and 7. Cutting to the chase the remastering is excellent. It sounds pretty much like you'd expect a good SACD remastering to sound: more detail, more dynamics and more sound stage. But the noise floor is noticeable, as though you are looking at the performance through an ever so slightly dirty window.

For comparison I listened to the RCA SACD of the Munch/BSO Pastoral. Not my favorite performance, by a long shot, but good Living Stereo sound and I thought the RCA sounded better with the EMI sounding a little dull by comparison. No doubt there was a difference in the "house sound" of the BSO and BPO at that time, but there was a little more there there in the BSO recording.

I guess the real question is, if these performances are important to you are they worth the hefty price tag? That's something my Scottish Heritage is struggling with. I'm keeping mine, no question they are a noticeable improvement in the sound. But the RBCDs sound really good for what they are and you can buy a lot of other music for the cost of this set. I don't know if that helps anyone or not.

Post by Joseph Ponessa August 10, 2015 (12 of 22)
Thanks to mwgfrg for posting a review of the SACD set, comparing favorably with LP and CD releases. My set is now on its way from Japan, through the very kind help of Nicolas Santini. Mostly in the past he helped me find out-of-print classical laserdiscs, but he has helped me with several difficult-to-find high-res sets in recent years.

Post by Lunna August 12, 2015 (13 of 22)
Bottom line - is the SACD box set worth ten times or more than the reputedly well mastered RBCD box set? I'm on the fence on this one...

Post by Joseph Ponessa August 12, 2015 (14 of 22)
Lunna said:

Bottom line - is the SACD box set worth ten times or more than the reputedly well mastered RBCD box set? I'm on the fence on this one...

The RBCD set is every bit what it is reputed to be.
The SACD set will have to be very good to supplant it from my shelf.
Will let you know the verdict in a few days, when the SACD arrives.

Post by Lunna August 13, 2015 (15 of 22)
Joseph Ponessa said:

The RBCD set is every bit what it is reputed to be.
The SACD set will have to be very good to supplant it from my shelf.
Will let you know the verdict in a few days, when the SACD arrives.

Thanks Joseph - can't wait to hear what you think. Meantime, I did order the RBCD set for $11.99 plus shipping, but still would love to hear if it pays to go all the way.

Post by james_joyce August 14, 2015 (16 of 22)
Lunna said:

Bottom line - is the SACD box set worth ten times or more than the reputedly well mastered RBCD box set? I'm on the fence on this one...

That's not a yes or no question IMO. No question the SACDs are better, but the RBCDs still sound fine. If the price were half what it is I'd say it would be a no brainer, but they cost what they cost. For me, I love these performances and it is worth it to have them in the best possible sound. But I can't say you or anyone else is going to be happier with these discs vs. buying the RBCDs and spending the difference on something else.

Post by Joseph Ponessa August 15, 2015 (17 of 22)
Lunna said:

Thanks Joseph - can't wait to hear what you think. Meantime, I did order the RBCD set for $11.99 plus shipping, but still would love to hear if it pays to go all the way.

The Cluytens SACD set arrived today thanks to the ministrations of Nicolas San. I listened to the first movement of the first symphony over and over again today, going back and forth with the 2006 EMI release. I was joined by a friend for the last three auditions, and I asked his opinions without telling him the origins of the two releases.
The EMI set is excellent, most notably for the clarity and the excellent timbre of the treble instruments. Flute, trumpet and first violins sound wonderful. The set is eminently listenable--and I did listen to the whole set all the way through last year. This mastering is one of the glories of the RBCD catalogue.
The SACD set is also excellent. This mastering gives more emphasis to the bass instruments--the violas, bassoons, basses and so forth, making Beethoven and the Berlin Philharmonic sound more weighty. Perhaps with bass management one could set the balance a little more on the treble side a son goût. The chief virtue of this set is that there is more resonance around each of the notes, because little or no cleanup has been done to remove the tape hiss.
My friend found the EMI set shrill to his ears. To mine it is a beautiful sound, but I have to concur that the SACD sounds more like the real deal. The SACD set is going to be occupying the space on my shelf.

Post by Lunna August 15, 2015 (18 of 22)
Thanks Joseph - in your view (not your friend's) - despite the SACD sounding better than the already fine RBCD set, is the difference that great as to justify (for want of a better word) going out and purchasing the substantially higher price for the SACD (and recognizing chacun son gout) ...

Post by Lunna August 15, 2015 (19 of 22)
james_joyce said:

That's not a yes or no question IMO. No question the SACDs are better, but the RBCDs still sound fine. If the price were half what it is I'd say it would be a no brainer, but they cost what they cost. For me, I love these performances and it is worth it to have them in the best possible sound. But I can't say you or anyone else is going to be happier with these discs vs. buying the RBCDs and spending the difference on something else.

Thanks JJ - I appreciate your response, and of course, it is totally subjective, and depends on ones budget as well. I guess I may just keep my eyes open for this set if it ever does drop to half price :) (as a lazy person, I like no-brainers!)

Post by Joseph Ponessa August 16, 2015 (20 of 22)
The SACD set is going to be occupying the space on my shelf.
The morning after, I had to put the RBCD back on the shelf next to the SACD. The qualities of the two sets are such that they complement each other rather than compete. Obviously, I can only listen to one at a time. For a thrilling dynamic experience I can put in the former; for an impressive monumental experience, the latter.

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