Two potboilers in proper quadraphonic surround sound on Blu-ray.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Suite – Philadelphia Orch./ Eugene Ormandy – from RCA Quad 4-track tape 1972 – HDTT audio-only Blu-ray (4.0 & 2.0) DTS-HD MA ****:
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 – Artur Rubinstein, p. / Philadelphia Orch./ Eugene Ormandy – from RCA Quad 4-track tape 1972 – HDTT audio-only Blu-ray (4.0 & 2.0) DTS-HD MA ****:
PentaTone are not the only ones bringing four-channel quadraphonic recordings of the past to present-day multichannel formats, but now HDTT is doing the same with these two quad 4-track prerecorded tapes. They have a 192/24 resolution on the four tracks. The results are processed via the very high-end facilities of HDTT and even though four-track rather than two-track, there is no noticeable hiss at all to be heard and the fidelity is excellent. Max Wilcox was the producer and Paul Goodman was the engineer for the first, the second Blu-ray is uncredited.
The 14 sections of the suite which Ormandy selected are beautifully played and the sonics are first rate. Rubinstein’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of the great recorded performances of the work and holds a lot of appeal. The Rachmaninoff Blu-ray is fine for most ears, but for those of us extremely sensitive to flutter and wow it is obvious that the master for this was not one of the 30 ips tapes that RCA occasionally did. There is a very slight flutter to the piano sound similar to that of audiocassettes – not terrible annoying but some of us really notice that sort of thing.
There would be a lot more space for other selections on both Blu-rays – perhaps bringing together two different open reel tapes on one Blu-ray. The Rachmaninoff, for instance, is under 32 minutes long. And most audio-only Blu-rays are more expensive than the equivalent SACDs, though there is a larger number of Blu-ray players out there, and that is the primary reason for this new format.
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