FALLA: El amor brujo (Love the Magician); GRANADOS: Intermezzo from “Goyescas;” RAVEL: Pavane pour une infante défunte, Alborada del Gracioso – Nati Mistral, soprano/New Philharmonia Orchestra/Rafael Frühbeck De Burgos – Decca/First Impression Music

by | Mar 24, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

FALLA: El amor brujo (Love the Magician); GRANADOS: Intermezzo from “Goyescas;” RAVEL: Pavane pour une infante défunte, Alborada del Gracioso – Nati Mistral, soprano/New Philharmonia Orchestra/Rafael Frühbeck De Burgos – Decca/First Impression Music K2 HD Mastering LIM K2HD 023, 44:00 *****:

Another audiophile winner in the exclusive K2 HD series of reissues from F.I.M.  Owner Winston Ma has a special attraction to the classic stereo recordings engineered for British Decca by Kenneth Wilkinson and this is another of his fine achievements in communicating natural and exciting orchestral sound.  There are absolutely no apologies to be made for the fact that this is a 1966 analog master tape. The transparency and high resolution is on the level of the very best two-channel SACD discs – some may feel even better – yet the K2 hi-res recordings are bit-mastered to standard 44.1K CD and don’t require any special player or decoder. The result is so much better than Sony Classical’s touted Super-Bit-Mapping that there’s no argument!

I didn’t have the classic original Decca LP in my vinyl library, but I had the RCA three-channel 2006 SACD reissue of El amor brujo – the one with the overall title “Spain.”  On the plus side, you get the deep orchestral soundstage provided by the three channels, plus a bit more music with the 71-minute length of the SACD including Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat suite and three works by Albeniz. Also the high strings at the beginning of the Goyescas Intermezzo (on both discs) were a bit smoother and richer vs. the more steely strings on the Decca reissue.

However, everything else had the K2 disc in the lead: The soprano vocalist is very distant in the RCA, even with the center channel, and with too much reverb. On the K2 disc you hear all the subtle details in her voice with the greatest presence. In the exciting Ritual Dance of Fire there is just as good a center spread on the K2 as on the three-channel RCA, and the orchestra sounds more vital and less laid back.  The RCA has a rich but somewhat opaque sonic compared to the greater transparency of the K2.  The orchestra plays with more snap as well, and the dynamics are more exciting. There are translations of the few vocal numbers, though the way they are displayed makes them rather difficult to follow.

 – John Sunier

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