Winston Ma of F.I.M. has launched a series of xrcd reissues of classic British Decca recordings from the 60s and 70s. This one dates from May 1967 and was released on an Argo LP. Mr. Ma felt it had the best string tone of all the recordings in his large collection and I feel he may be right. I didn’t have this one in my collection but I had a Rossini String Sonatas Argo LP issued about the same time, and it has I think the most wonderful string tone on any of my LPs. I had thought that only SACD, DVD-A and vinyl could completely free us from the steely, annoying string timbre of most standard 44.1K CDs. But this perfectionistic 44.1K xrcd does the trick without requiring special playback equipment. Mr. Ma obtained the licensing of this and other Decca recordings and had the xrcds mastered directly from the original half-inch analog 15 ips tapes, using classic Ampex decks modified by Tim de Paravicini.
Musically the Divertimenti are a marvel as well, coming from a composer only 16 years old! One is reminded of the young Mendelssohn, whose string sonatas were created at the same age. Winston opens the comprehensive booklet notes with an article on Mozart being the earliest audiophile, due to his idea of dividing up the strings into two opposing sections on left and right, trading themes back and forth for spatial effect. I might add to that the additional audiophile evidence shown in Mozart’s letters to his father, talking about his sitting very close to the players whenever he could to better appreciate every bit of the sound. The Serenata Notturna is a fairly lively work for a nocturnal setting, and brings the album to a successful close.
– John Sunier