A number of folk have expressed the opinion to me - apparently sincerely - that they think markings of SACDs tended to be so high because manufacturers tend to select their best performances and recordings for this fine medium.
Phooeee, says I- and for the proof, listen to this one.
Several other folk have also opined - and with a lot more foundation in reality, I feel - that folk tend to review only stuff they really like. Well, if I had purchase a recording which subsequently turns out to be dreck, I would want to warn others not to waste their hard-earned cash, like I'd just done. So, please consider this review as a charitable enterprise.
Back to this recording. In my BBC days, if someone had asked me to record sound like this, I would have done the following:
1) Hire a large aircraft hanger
2) Fill it with chunky vegetable soup - Heinz or Campbell's, it matters not
3) Take lots and lots of mikes; distribute at random throughout the hanger. Stir.
4) Hire an orang-utan to slide the mike faders up and down at random
5) Record to high quality medium such as 8-track cartridge or wax cylinder.
What do you mean, the musicians would drown in the soup? Have you not heard of aqualungs?
OK, you get the idea by now. A bad recording is bad on vinyl or CD, but it's super-bad on such a transparent and revealing medium as SACD. This one sounds soupy (of course), thick, muzzy, distant, soft and fluffy. It also has the imaging, staging, focus and dimensionality of... a bowl of soup. What else? As a bonus, the giant, spongy piano lurks and lurches all over the room.
It hardly seems kind to comment on the performances. You guessed it, they're not too good either.
I was fairly gentle on the previous Ravel/Gershwin recording in this series, but that was actually a lot better than this one. Roge seems ill at ease throughout, particularly in the Gershwin. He has committed fine Ravel concertos to disc before. This is not one of them, though.
If these Oehms recordings are going to be the only Ravel Piano Concertos on SACD, I suggest you dig out your vinyl and CDs now...