Music for Pipe Organ and Symphony Orchestra – The University of Houston Moores School Symphony Orchestra – Franz Anton Krager, music director – High Definition Tape Transfers 

Organ and Orchestra in dramatic surround sound.

Music for Pipe Organ and Symphony Orchestra – The University of Houston Moores School Symphony Orchestra – Franz Anton Krager, music director – High Definition Tape Transfers cat # HDTT5746 – Special limited edition Blu-ray audio disc Recorded in 24/192 High Resolution 5.0 Surround Sound  TT: 77.00 ****:

Audiophiles tend to love the sound of a large pipe organ, and this Blu-ray audio disc from High Definition Tape Transfers is sure to please. It contains some familiar works for organ and orchestra, and some that are more obscure but equally worthy.

The disc opens with Paul Dukas Fanfare to La Péri. I’ve heard the piece before, I think in my long gone classical announcing days in college. It’s a rousing opener, with organ, brass and orchestra.

Next is the Francis Poulenc Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani in G-Minor. It’s well known, and loved by fans of ‘big’ orchestral music, but it has moments of subtlety too. The orchestral colors are very rich, and the organ blend with the orchestra is intricate and interesting.

The disc also features Joseph Jongen’s Symphonie concertante for Organ and Orchestra, op. 81. This is also familiar to organ fans and while there are plenty of good recordings of this piece, it’s nice to hear it in dramatic surround.

The disc closes with the Symphony No. 6 for Large Orchestra, op. 60 by Nicolas Bácri. He’s not as well represented in the catalogs as the other composers on the disc, but some of his brass and piano music have made it on to CD.

The recording here is generally an excellent one. The dynamic range is excellent. I did not hear my speakers straining during the loudest passages on these works, and overall the disc will challenge even a high quality music system. The disc offers a 5.0 surround mix and a 2.0 stereo mix. The surround tracks put you at the conductors position, with the left and right side of the orchestra to the sides.

This disc was recorded during a live performance. I did hear an occasional noise from the audience, but there was nothing terribly distracting. I did think the strings were a bit subdued in frequency response. The highest notes seemed lacking to my ear, but this may have been a subjective decision by the producer. It doesn’t mar the disc, but I note it here because I reacted to it while listening.

One other nit to pick is the onscreen display. Since this is a Blu-ray disc you can see the contents of the program on your TV if it is on. But on my Sony and Oppo Blu-Ray player the screen display does not indicate what track is playing. It just sits there, and is a potential burn-in hazard if your equipment does not involve a screen saver.  Neither my displays or Blu-ray players offered a screen saver, so it might be best to listen with the screen turned off.

In either surround or stereo, this is a fine recording. I wished for more extended highs in the strings, but the disc is a thrilling musical experience. Listen in surround if you have the option.

—Mel Martin

 

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