Review by Jonalogic July 14, 2010 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
|I always ask this one. Why do strange folk like me buy stupidly expensive SACD remasters of 40-50 year old analog recordings? Are we totally deranged? Yes, of course, that goes without saying, but anyway...
1) For great, classic performances or
2) For great old analogue sound
3) On a really good day, for both!
So, how does this stack up, then?
These are simply stunning performances and superlatively played throughout, and this fact remains the main rationale for buying this release. The Concerto surpasses even the fine Reiner on Living Stereo (although I have to say that recording - one of the LSC greats - comfortably surpasses this at a sixth of the price). The Mandarin is sleazy, raucous, dangerous and shocking- just as it should be. Just great, as is the Dance Suite. The crazy time signatures just make my head spin...
Also the sound is noticeably better than some of the recent duff Esoteric remasters- reviewed here alsewhere. You can hear the Decca microphone 'tree' layout, but there's too much gain-riding going on, and it seems a bit bass-lite and dry up-top. Still, with these performances, who cares? It IS comfortably superior to the RBCD, as well. But the channels seem reversed. Violins from the right? At this price? You cannot be serious.
The packaging booby prize definitely goes to Universal; I really don't think the cardboard foldaround looks good or will wear well over the years. However, there's a real kicker; cleverly, this packaging is totally non-standard in size and will not fit in a row of CDs or SACDs. So I ended up scanning and scaling down the artwork, reprinting and inserting into a bog-standard jewel box. Not what I'd expect for that price! For a super-premium pricetag, I think we're entitled to expect better. What marketing genius in Universal thought of this one?!
So, is it worth this eye-watering price? Only you can answer that one.
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