This is the SACD version of the CD I just recently reviewed here. At the time I wondered why Telarc seemed to be cutting back on SACD issues, and they are in some instances, but I must admit that I also find it really inconvenient to have the standard CD issued some months before the SACD comes out. Are they waiting to see how sales go first, or what? I bought the Spano German Requiem before I had any idea it was coming out in Super Audio, and only then because I happened to catch it on their website. Surely it cannot be so demeaning a practice as to trick people into double buying, can it? At any rate, when they release something that will be available on SACD, I hope they start making it a practice to inform us a little better. [Right; it used to be noted on the outside of the CD jewel box but now it’s not…Ed.]
I was a bit disappointed in the last review but only because I felt it lacked the gravitas needed to compete against the historical heavyweights. Spano still feels like he is in command of this performance, and I think him an excellent Puccini conductor, which is something that might surprise a lot of people (he is far more versatile than people think, and if you lived in Atlanta you would find that out easily). My criticisms in the last review pretty much stand, especially the interruptions of the audience – a little disconcerting. But this issue has caused me to revise my opinion of the sound. While I still think the DGG Bernstein is recorded more properly to present this opera, the SA really opens things up in an almost three-dimensional way that that truly does “surround” you with Puccini’s ravishing melodies. As a result the recording moves up a notch in my opinion. It is still a supplement—it would have to be miraculous in order to supplant the greats of the past—but the stunning clarity of the presentation, and the considered efforts of its young cast now make it something of a first choice among alternatives.
But what the heck—everyone needs two or three copies of this opera anyway, right?
— Steven Ritter