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Buyers beware - despite virtues in performance, dated stale sound! Go for Inbal/Philharmonia on Philips instead!
on 9 May 2015
While Sawallisch and his East German players perform these works with verve and style, they are let down dreadfully by the sound quality. It is dreadful.
It is a plastic audio experience that seems to be a throwback to the early days of EMI's ventures into stereo. I found it fairly difficult to endure and wonder why this recording has garnered so many 5 star fab reviews - which were partly the reason I purchased this and wasted my money - and further wonder why the West German EMI team that ventured across the Iron Curtain in the 1970s to undertake this venture, responsible for so many crack records in their West Berlin base, made such a crap recording. A crap recording, which needless to say, like many frankly dated old classics, like stuffed animals, in EMI's vaults has been, and will be, endlessly recycled in different digital formats to coin the last drop of marginal profit for which ever hedge fund or private investment bank has bought the copyright. EMI no longer exists of course.
At the same time of this poultice - the admirably crystal clear, with a concrete and tangible stereo soundstage and beautiful sensitive playing of a different order from Inbal and the New Philharmonia was laid down by Philips. Of course, the two sets offer different views of Schumann, Inbal is precise, detailed and sensitive rather than magnificently broad and sweeping, but the Philips has the advantage of being in fine modern sound and was widely acclaimed on its release.
Avoid this over hyped dated EMI set and go for the Philips on a reasonable 2CD "Duo" mid price issue. Another noted cycle that completely overshadows the Sawallisch EMI offering is the Vox recording with Jerzy Semkow and the St Louis Symphony that performs the impossible for this much regarded French/Polish conductor, who sadly passed in December 2014, by offering the strongest, most athletic playing on disc. Don't sniff at the label - these Vox recordings are light years ahead of EMI or for that matter any of the digital versions currently available. It is a reference recording.
My copy of this Sawallisch EMI has gone into the recycle box ready for the exchange shop. Pennies back for pounds spent. Due to misleading reviews on this product.