BERLIOZ: Requiem – Leopold Simoneau, tenor/Boston Symphony Orchestra/New England Conservatory Chorus/Charles Munch – RCA Living Stereo multichannel (3-channel) SACD

by | Jun 4, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BERLIOZ: Requiem – Leopold Simoneau, tenor/Boston Symphony
Orchestra/New England Conservatory Chorus/Charles Munch – RCA Living
Stereo multichannel (3-channel) SACD 82876-66373-2 (2 discs) 38:13,
45:31 ****:

This l959 Victor recording by Munch has long been considered the number
one interpretation of the massive and dramatic Berlioz Requiem. The
third channel was added later to their original two-channel stereo
recordings by Victor, and intended only to provide more flexibility in
the final mixing to stereo – vs. Mercury’s approach of envisioning
actual three-channel playback. Nevertheless the three-channel
reproduction on the SACD adds greatly to the depth of the frontal
soundstage, helps to separate the chorus from the orchestra, and
spatially locates the various instrumental sections and voices more
accurately. Only in the Dies irae sections when the four brass choirs
enter is the lack of their sound coming from the rear noticed and
missed. It’s unfortunate that with most AV preamps and receivers it’s
not possible to feed the L & R channels thru Pro Logic II to
provide a fake surround signal – even though that would not place the
brass players back there. This Requiem recording came out recently in
plain stereo on a CD compendium of Munch BSO recordings.  Even the
two-channel mix on this SACD is a major improvement over the 44.1 CD
reissue, which really cannot contain the epic proportions and sonics of
the Requiem. (For a true surround experience of the Requiem – one of
the few works created especially for spatial performance – check out
either the recent Telarc SACD or the Vanguard Utah Symphony reissue
from Artemis.)

The note booklet has several special features, including the history of
Living Stereo, Notes on the Score, and a discussion of the reissue of
the original three-channel recordings.

– John Sunier

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