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  Esoteric -
  Schoenberg, Berg, Webern - Karajan
  Schoenberg: Transfigured Night Op. 4, Berg: Three Pieces Op. 6, Webern: Passacaglia for orchestra Op. 1

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Review by LPG1964 April 20, 2010 (16 of 25 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I sincerely like these recordings. They present Karajan and the BPO in splendid form.
When I saw part of these recordings available on one sacd, I did not hesitate, even if the price was ridiculously high.

When I received this sacd and started listening to it, I had a very unpleasant surprise: The sound was very bad! It had all the shortcomings of the original CD release plus an extra dark veil covering the sound. It was way muddier than the original cd. I could not believe my ears!

I am a professional recording engineer, and I am usually quite able to remember the sound of the cd's I own and love, but to be sure I then re-listened to the original cd. This came as a revelation, because now we could hear some kind of dynamics and sparkling treble again (for as far as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit CD allows us to).

I was wondering what had happened. Had some idiot abused the original master tapes?
When I looked in the booklet, it suddenly dawned upon me that these guys had used the plain CD as a mastering source!!!!!!!!!!
I could not believe my eyes! I looked on the website of Esoteric and it is true!!!!

Their idea (if they had one) is that when played back on high quality equipment (dacs, cables etc.) and then rerecorded in dsd it would give an improvement.

These fools. What an eyewash! How typical for such so-called “audiophiles”; spending fortunes on one end while completely forgetting the other end.

This is a pure rip-off. Beware of Esoteric “remasters”. They even advertise with the remark that one can now hear into the original master recordings. What a lie!

If they cannot get their hands on the original analogue mastertapes, they should warn customers on the booklet and the descriptions on their site. Who in the world wants this idiocy?

What a shame and what a missed opportunity. The remastering by DGG of the Karajan 1962 Beethoven symphonies has shown us what a wonderful result can be achieved. We can only hope that one day this splendid remastering will also be applied to other milestone recordings of Karajan in the analogue area. Until then I advise you all not to burn your hands on this crazy project of Esoteric!

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Review by mwgfrg June 8, 2010 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I cannot help pointing out the injustice of the previous review, which simply misstates the facts as to what Esoteric says it did in remastering the original recordings. There is not a word in the disc's booklet to suggest that the transfer was anything other than from the original analogue tapes--at least, there is not a word in English; I'm not exactly fluent in Japanese. The Esoteric website, by contrast, states specifically no less than four times that the transfer was made from the original master tapes. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion on the resulting sound, but not when that opinion is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of some kind.

As to my own impression of the SACD transfer, I don't have the original DGG CD, but I have compared the SACD transfer to the original single disc 1975 DGG LP release of the Verklarte Nacht, and while the difference is not what I would call overwhelming, and both SACD and LP have a clear, open midrange and highs, the SACD is noticeably, and to me significantly, fuller and more detailed in the lower midrange and bass. For this reason, as between SACD and LP, the SACD is the clear choice for me. [For the record, my SACD playback--Esoteric P-03, D-03 and G-ORb--and LP playback--SME 20.2 table and V arm, Koetsu Onyx Platinum cartridge and Lamm LP2 Deluxe phono amp--are on pretty equivalent levels. And while my listening is technically in stereo, it is mainly with an upgraded late '80s ambience/delay unit and rear speakers, which I turn on and off for comparisons.]

Just as a final note, Esoteric also released three of their remasters as (even more expensive) LPs, using the DSD masters made for the SACDs rather than the original tapes. Sounds like sacrilege, except that in all three cases the new LPs are superior to both the original Decca LP releases and the '90s audiophile reissues, all of which I have owned for years.

Certainly, one shouldn't buy the SACDs if you consider the price too excessive to be worth it to you, but not because of any questions about the care and expertise being lavished on the recordings chosen for remastering, which is impressive and praiseworthy.

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Works: 3  

Alban Berg - 3 Orchesterstücke (Pieces for Orchestra), Op. 6
Arnold Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op. 4
Anton Webern - Passacaglia for orchestra, Op. 1