on 8 May 2006
If, like me and many others, you are beginning to explore the new music formats of SACD and DVD-Audio you will find that this release is a missed opportunity.
Believing that this was a release of recordings by EMI that had been recorded in the new high definition formats I was very disappointed to find that it is nothing more than the lower definition two channel stereo, rather than 5 or 5.1 sound. Further, almost track for track they are almost exactly the same recordings that are available at almost half the price in the 'Your hundred best tunes' box set also by EMI.
What then are you paying your money for? It would seem that EMI believe you are willing to pay extra for the benefit of having 2 discs to swop rather than 6 and to have a repetitive image of swirling notes moving on your screen - there are no track details or information shown on the screen other than the track title itself. Sadly, the two discs are simply stuffed into a single DVD box.
Comparing this release to the excellently recorded Chants d'Auvergne DVD-Audio recording on the low price Naxos label seems almost farcical. The difference in the sound from the higher definition 5.1 recording and the on-screen images and displayed information between the two is enormous. Naxos clearly have the lead in this field and have taken the initiative in a still fairly unproven market. If you are trying out these formats the Naxos recording just mentioned or the Teldec Mahler's Resurrection Symphony recording, conducted by Zubin Mehta, would be much more rewarding for sound quality and performance.
So where does this leave EMI classical then? Well, they have missed an opportunity to release a showcase DVD-Audio. Instead of creating enthusiasm amongst buyers there is a danger that if they buy these 2 disc they will be deeply disappointed at what they hear. It is NOT a DVD-Audio recording, it is a stereo recording on DVD discs - as long as you aware of that you will be better placed to make an informed decision - but if you really want to try out the higher definition sound DVD-Audio provides then look elsewhere and save your money.