09 March, 2010

CD Recommendations (1)

CD Recommendations (1)

While I give lengthier treatment to CDs and performers in my companion classical Blogs, I am starting this new feature for practical reasons.

There shall only be occasional articles, covering only relatively new releases that can still be bought or ordered. I shall only choose CDs that appear to me to have the potential of wider appeal to hifi enthusiasts, and that means more familiar works as well as excellent sound. Ever since I started plumbing the depths of the library collection, I have bought few CDs. Here are some that I have purchased recently.

In HK, Horowitz in Moscow(DG) is rather popular, but other Horowitz live recordings deserve equal scrutiny. The recently released Horowitz Berlin Concert 18 May, 1986 (Sony) (2 CDs for price of one) is a MUST for his fans, and I am sure would also be a delight to audiophiles for comparison with the Moscow concert, which took place only shortly before. The programs are rather similar, with much "duplication". There are 2 more Scarlatti sonatas in Berlin than Moscow and just the opener, the Scarlatti K87/L33 would be worth the price of the CD. This sonata, also heard on The Studio Recordings (DG), has remained my favorite ever since I heard it on the indispensable HMV Recordings 1930-1951 (EMI), which despite the mono recording is still the best version. The sound of the Berlin Concert is splendid and the performances wonderful. The entertaining booklet too chronicles some of the happenings behind the scene. For me, this is a better recording than the Hamburg Concert (DG) released not so long ago, but what Horowitz fan would want to be without any of his later live recordings, all in good sound?

While we're on the topic of Horowitz, I'd like to mention the sometimes neglected studio recording, Horowitz: The Last Recording (Sony), to me one of his best CDs. The sound too. It is now mid-price, a bargain.

Beethoven Symphonies

It is surprising how many audiophiles have some classical recordings (particularly violin concertos) but do not own even a complete Beethoven Symphonies set.

I have heard the wonderful Osmo Vanska with both his Minnesota Orchestra as well as the HKPO. After hearing some of the Osmo Vanska's Complete Beethoven Symphonies (BIS) from the library, I decided to purchase a set, even if I have already many versions. Natural and breathing performances recorded in sumptuous DSD sound. I don't really have a dedicated SACD player, but even on my humble Marantz DV-6001 multi-player, or on any other of my CD players, sound was vitally fresh. 5x SACD/CD for the price of 2 CDs is a good deal, competitive even in the budget sector.

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