Fidelis Records Audiophile Master Series (SACD debut set)
Music: PCM CD: DSD Multi-Channel
Violoncello A B+ A
Astor Piazzolla B+ B+ A
Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons A B+ A
Fidelis Records has
brought forth an Audiophile Master Series for the Sony/Philips’s SACD format,
which surely breaks new barriers in experiencing music at its best. As part of this series they released Violoncello,
which is a collection from Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, and Kodaly. Astor Piazzolla is performed by Atis
Bankas and Simon Wynberg doing Histoire du Tango, Libertango, and Etudes
1-6. The Tchaikovsky piece is
performed by the Tchaikovsky Chamber Music Society doing The Seasons and
is arranged for Piano Trio.
Violoncello is simply put--a sheer delight for those who enjoy
simplistic arrangements that create a mood all on their own. Since this is a Multi-Channel Direct Stream
Digital transfer, the results are amazing!
Without a doubt this is exactly what music should be when it comes to at
home listening. Very rarely are we
given this kind of quality in terms of spatialness within a mix. The DSD technology ensures that we are given
all the high and low end ranges of these instruments that other formats often
time cannot deliver. Often information
is loss due to compression or slower bit rate transfers. DSD, on the other hand, offers a 1-bit rate
transfer with a high sampling rate that surpasses 2 Million.
Violoncello is broken down into sections by each composer: the
Vivaldi portion is Sonata for Violoncello and Piano in A Minor
with four sections Largo, Allegro, Largo, and another Allegro. It is performed here by Nata Belkin on
cello, and Daniel Friedman on piano.
Most of the time when we are listening to multi-channel playback we are
experiencing music from all directions with hundreds of sounds being bounced
all over. Indeed, this can be quite a
rush to be swept away by such a mixture of instruments, but when we take away
such arrangements and reduce that to just two instruments the results can be
just as intoxicating.
What becomes so essential
when recording something on a small scale such as this is the importance of
each recording detail. There can be no
flaws and everything must be so precise in order to fully recreate that experience
once the recording is done with for the home listener. Anyone listening to this is multi-channel
will certainly feel engulfed by the sound and feel the presence of the
instruments warmly within the room.
Vivaldi’s Sonata in A
Minor featured here is one that most are already familiar with. It is one example of the cello in true
Baroque form. Vivaldi lived from
1678-1741 around the same time as J.S. Bach who did more organ works, but on
this disc we are introduced to his Suites For Unaccompanied Cello, which
would be from numbers BWV 1007-1012 and certainly fit together nicely with the
sections from Vivaldi. The continuity
on this disc is impeccable considering we have two Baroque composers mixed with
one post-Renaissance composer, plus the fact that each contains their own
stylist interpretations of cello.
The standout portion of
this from the other two are from Zoltan Kodaly, who was composing in the early
1900’s and his Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello demonstrates the cello in
ways few have ever been able to. There
are very few cellists that will even attempt to recreate his works since there
are so many limits that are broken with these arrangements.
It should be noted that
there has yet to be a format until now with SACD that truly touches all the
boundaries that music such as this covers.
We can fully experience the entire range of these instruments as we are
sucked into their hypnotic overtures.
The biggest thanks should be credited to Fidelis Records for bringing
forth some of the most important of all classical music with a format that
allows us to enjoy it the way it should be heard and felt.
Piazzolla features Atis Bankas on violin and Simon Wynberg
on guitar during Historie du Tango as well as Libertango. These are suites named after times and
places in which they try to emulate the feeling and mood of these places and
periods. Rounding off this album is the
Etudes section, which are not quite as exciting as the first portion, but are
still impressive arrangements that explore some new grounds. Indeed on SACD the sound is much smoother
with more separation allowing each instrument cut through the mix with the
delicacy and precision that we may not be accustomed to, but can quickly get
Seasons is performed as a Piano
Trio although it was originally written for solo piano, which might be the way
some are acquainted with already. Atis
Bankis is on violin, Teymour Sadykhov on cello and Galina Zisk on piano. The Season captures Tchaikovsky
somewhere in the middle of his career and is before some of his most popular
works such as Swan Lake.
Although some might not be that familiar with the work here, they
highlight the concepts that he was working with in terms of finding the right
melodies to match the spirit of each season throughout the year. One might even see some similarities to
Holst’s The Planets, at least in the exploration of the instrument in
order to emulate sounds about ideas on particular objects or in this case a
period of time such as a month or season.
Each disc is a reverse
compatible Hybrid SACD, which is capable of being played on any CD player or
SACD ready machine. The CD tracks sound
good and surpass just about any normal classical recording on the market for
normal compact disc. Even some of the
20-bit offerings from certain companies do not come close to the level of
excellence presented in this package.
What is frustrating with buying any classical music is the simple fact
that with so much of it being in free domain just about anyone can release it
onto the market. This makes the task of
buying well recorded and accurately recreated arrangements nearly
impossible. Well, the search is over
because this is without a doubt one of the best recordings to date for any of
these compositions. Even some of the
material released onto DVD-Audio will not even come close to the level of these
While other formats such
as DVD-Audio usually have more playful mixes that utilize the soundstage in
different ways, SACD attempts to deliver a more solid and fuller sound
design. Rather than concentrate on
placing instruments all over the mix, SACD makes more use of keeping with the
original feel or intentions of the creator and takes it up a notch by making the
recording, no matter what the age. sound as true to that as possible. With these three SACD’s from Fidelis Records
we have hit a benchmark with the technology in that these instruments are heard
with their fullest range being brought forth, where other technologies have
failed. The recordings are top-notch
and this certainly brings us as close to actually being there as possible. Visit Fidelis Records at their site at http://www.fidelisrecords.com to
- Nate Goss