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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Multi-Channel Music > Gewandhauds-Quartett Schubert-Schumann-Spohr Set/Adam Fisher – Mozart Symp. No. 7/Orgelwerk: Liszt/Haselbock/Sa Chen – Rachmaninov - Mussorgsky/Bruckner Symp. No. 8 – Simone Young (Naxos SA-CDs)

Gewandhauds-Quartett Schubert-Schumann-Spohr Set/Adam Fisher – Mozart Symp. No. 7/Orgelwerk: Liszt/Haselbock/Sa Chen – Rachmaninov -  Mussorgsky/Bruckner Symp. No. 8 – Simone Young (Naxos SA-CDs w/NCA/DaCapo/PentaTone/Oehms)


Sound: B/B+/B/B/B+     Music: B (Young: B+)



While some have declared the Super Audio Compact Disc (aka SA-CD) dead, I have been supporting it ever since I heard it from day one and unlike competitor DVD-Audio (now seeing six releases a year if that, while its MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) has been adapted as Dolby TrueHD for Blu-ray and other HD video applications, SA-CD continues to thrive in a healthy enough way.  Though it is not the monster success it could be, dozens of titles are being issued a month and many include Jazz and Classical Music titles.  Naxos has been distributing the format faithfully each month and here are five of the latest for mid-2009.


Gewandhauds-Quartett In Concert (NCA) perform works by Franz Schubert (String Quintet D 956 + 667), Robert Schumann (Quintet Opus 44) and Louis Spohr (Concert for String Quarette & Orchestra Opus 131) in this two-disc set that is pretty decent, but was not the best versions of the works I was familiar as I listened.  Still, the recording is decent the musicians (Frank-Michael Erben and Conrad Suske on violin, Olaf Hallmann on Viola, Juenjakob Timm on Cello) do a smooth job of covering such extensive work.  Recorded in 2008, some of this is an analog recording and others digital recording, but the 5.1 DSD (Direct Stream Digital) high definition sound is still very good considering the sources and it offers more depth and detail than the Stereo 2.0 DSD or lesser 2.0 CD PCM tracks also on this hybrid.


Adam Fisher – Mozart Symp. No. 7 (DaCapo) was recorded February 2008, January 2009 and is the second-best sounding disc of the five.  This is from the Danish National Chamber Orchestra and they all do a very good job bringing these pieces to life.  Oddly, there are no identifying marks or notes as to the source of the original recordings, but it is impressive sonically as well and the 5.1 DSD will make Classical and Mozart fans happy.  This is also a hybrid with lesser PCM CD tracks.


Orgelwerk: Franz Liszt – Martin Haselbock (NCA) is an all digital recording from October 2005 and is another hybrid SA-CD with lesser CD PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks, but the source is likely PCM-based and is not up there with the best DSD 5.1 mixes we have heard in general.  Still, it is a good performance and part of a series from the same label with the same fine packaging.


Sa Chen – Sergei Rachmaninov – Modest Mussorgsky (PentaTone) takes familiar works of the Classical giants and turns them into piano pieces.  In the case of Mussorgsky, it seems almost deconstructive, but where you might loose power and thrust, a thoughtful articulation takes its place.  The Rachmaninov 6 Etudes Tableaux also work nicely this way.  PentaTone issued this and the notes explain that the recording was done with the participation of Polyhymnia, who specializes in high-end recording.  It sounds it, yet this is not the most impressive piano SA-CD we’ve heard, but the 5.1 DSD on this hybrid is better than the CD PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks.  Still, Chen is good and I would like to hear more.


Anton Bruckner Symp. No. 8 – Simone Young (Oehms) is a hybrid and the only other double disc set here.  This 5.0 DSD mix is the best of the five, was recorded December 2008 and has demonstration moments of how good SA-CD can sound and after listening to so many Blu-rays lately with DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD mixes, I am still strongly convinced DSD is the best digital sound playback format.  This is also a hybrid disc, but the other tracks cannot compare and shows DSD and SA-CD are alive and well.  Either a DSD or high-bit PCM source, I was very impressed and is a great introduction to all.  This is the one to order, but none are outright disappointments, which is typical of the format.


All come with multi-lingual booklets that are informative, if not always technically so.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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