HANDEL: Six Piano Concertos Op. 4 – Matthias Kirschnereit p./ Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss/ Lavard Skou Larsen – Deutschlandfunk/ CPO double vinyl 777 853-1, 67:32 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

This is the just-released vinyl version of the album I reviewed in December on SACD. See the review here. These are most enjoyable as piano concertos—almost as good as Mozart’s.

In case you’re doing a double-take seeing this, of course Handel didn’t write any piano concertos; these are six of his organ concertos for chamber orchestra played on the piano. The same notes included with the SACD are on three sides of the double-LP package, in very small type, in both English and German. I especially liked the way CPO designed the vinyl labels to have the hole in the center come in the center of the O in CPO.

So do they sound any different from the two-channel SACD?  Well, slightly. Enough to have an expensive turntable system and to get up several times to clean and flip the discs over?  And I don’t know what the cost difference is, if any. Normally the vinyl versions are more expensive than the SACDs. And often due to time restrictions, either things must be left off the vinyl that were included on the SACD or CD, or it takes two discs to accommodate everything that was on the digital disc.

With my new Nova II phono preamp I found the piano to sound a tad more realistic in comparison to its sound on the SACD, somewhat less wooden-sounding. There was also a bit more “air” around the instruments.

—John Sunier