Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons (Fidelis SACD)

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 used to! 


Tchaikovsky’s The 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 SACD’s. 


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 learn more.



-   Nate Goss


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com