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Barenboim's EMI ADD that might be a contender.,
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This review is from: Mozart: Requiem; Bruckner: Te Deum (Audio CD)
This reading, probably the most "dramatic", "operatic", grand in scale and extrovert reading, which is also so touching and most beautifully sung by top soloists and which has the full force of the orchestra and full bodied chorus accompaniment - should theoretically attract the attention of anyone interested in a bold, dramatic reading of this oeuvre.
The line up of the four soloists is a top grade; Armstrong, Baker, Gedda, D.F.Dieskau.
All excel, yet, Fischer Dieskau in that luminous line of soloists, is a bit of an enigma and though he can darken his voice almost sufficiently to sound more like a Bass/Baritone than a Baritone, the ear is not fooled and still cries for a lower, more appropriate voice and with more impact, specially for the Tuba Mirum aria;
one yearns for the imposing voice of Robert Lloyd in this part which has a voice with more gravity, an almost frightening devilish account laid out in this aria (the Giulini/EMI recording, though Giulini's reading is almost flat, devoid of true drama, emotional involvement or drive the way the Barenboim, or the Solti reading for that mater)...
Great surprise however in the quartet of the soloists is Janet Baker that right from her entry in the quartet gathers such authority and sing in broad-lines and sounds more like an Alto-voice (where in other recordings she sounds more like a light Mezzo or can even, at times be easily mistaken for a Soprano).
The tympani (very specific laid out with an impact heard throughout the whole piece), the double bass lines and the organ lower register are there - yet without drawing under the chorus which gather huge momentum. As a whole the orchestra too is not dawn under the weight of the full choir and tympani.
Almost all is there in audiophile's terms, and yet - compared with say, the Colin Davis recording for Philips (which is also an ADD affair of about seven years earlier than this one, or, the Solti VPO which is a Decca DDD recording, or EMI/Add Giulini - there is lack of true perspective over the assembled forces with this recording; no true overview of the location, the hall, the physical placement of the choir relative to the orchestra etc, the way the Philips Colin Davis has (though the C. Davis affair has a misty, darken, unclear recording relative to the Barenboim/EMI).
With extended listening to this EMI/Barenboim it becomes clear that the recording exhibit some ill effects of massive use of multi-microphones technique, with the unavoidable results that the forces involved in this recording occupy the same space and are pictured one on top the other with no breath to the soundstage.
I believe that the other reviewer, Mr. Dan Fee, (on Amazon USA) perceived this transfer shortcoming by expressing his longing for a good SACD like sound of this recording. He says: "Still SACD could possibly be a further sound revelation for performances of lasting musical worth such as this one"...
Well, the bad news is that with all probabilities no re-mastering for SACD purposes of this multi-mikers master-tape would improve on the `stickiness' this recording exhibits - though the digital grayness of the present-day normal CD technique might improve a bit on the department of harmonic/tonality, and might restore it to a better analogue-like sound thanks to SACD technique.
What the buyer ends up with here with this CD, is a grainy, "digitized" transfer that with all the contemporary (excluding the SACD) technologies of Analogue to Digital transfer should have been tamed and avoided.
The edition date for this CD state 2008, but in reality, the digital sound offered here with this EMI version belongs to the very primitive starting points of the digital ADD era.
Has EMI learned nothing in the last thirty years of transfers from analogue to digital, and especially so now that they finely made the plunge into the fray and launched their entry into the SACD releases of their extensive catalogue...