GRIEG: Peer Gynt Suite; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Russian Easter Overture;
SATIE: Gymnopédie Nos. 1 & 3; BORODIN: In the Steppes of Central
Asia; Nocturne for Strings (from Quartet No. 2) – Saint Louis Symphony
Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin – Telarc Stereo-only SACD-60655, 79:18 ****:
Telarc has remastered for SACD two more of their earlier digital
recordings using the 50kHz Soundstream system. (The other is the Mahler
Second Symphony.) This system was superior to the PCM standard of
44.1kHz, providing extending frequency response and more detail.
But although the Soundstream tapes could be decoded and the analog
signal used to cut masters for vinyl records of the time, for CDs the
50K tapes had to be down-converted to 44.1K, causing an inherent loss
in quality. Since DSD technology allows for over 100K response, the
Soundstream recordings can now be easily transferred to SACD with
risking any losses in fidelity. At the same time, Telarc added
material originally on other CDs (in fact selections from four
different ones) – because there were no 79-minute CDs until recently.
The disc’s program has the feeling of a pops concert except that the
entire first Carmen Suite and the Peer Gynt Suite are heard instead of
just a movement or two. In the latter we get the big hits of
Morning Mood, Anitra’s Dance and In the Hall of the Mountain King.
While this is a collection of very familiar classical chestnuts,
the performances are so enthusiastic and the advanced resolution
of the Soundstream process so successful that I found myself listening
from beginning to end and not wanting to advance to the next track on
anything. The bass drum is especially prominent; Telarc doesn’t
seem to emphasize it quite so much in their more recent recordings. If
you have a subwoofer you will certainly notice it.
– John Sunier