Franz Schubert – Symphonies No. 4 “Tragic” &
No. 5/Gordan Nikolic + [Francesco] Zappa Symphonies – Crowning
Glory/Simon Murphy (Naxos/PentaTone SA-CDs)
Sound: B DSD Stereo: B PCM Stereo: B- Music: B
its not reaching the mainstream (yet, we hope), Super Audio Compact Disc is
still alive and well. Besides the Mobile
Fidelity limited editions, Sony still issuing some titles while still backing
Blu-ray and other indie companies issuing the occasional title, Jazz and
Classical companies continue to issue discs monthly. Two resent offerings that are solid, if not
spectacular, have their moments and come from distributor Naxos
and one of the most prolific labels they handle: PentaTone.
the PentaTone product. They have a certain
love and regular for the classics that is distinct and gets you involved, with
is not easy. All their SA-CDs have the
maximum three layers of 5.1 DSD (Direct Stream Digital), 2.0 DSD Stereo and PCM
2.0 Stereo for older CD players. First
up is Schubert – Symphonies Nos 4 &
5, led by the fine violinist Gordan Nikolic. This was recorded with the Nederlands Chamber
Orchestra and is a very well done rendering of the piece as compared to the
several versions I have heard before.
Running nearly 68 minutes, it is a pleasure to listen to and is one of
the best recordings of the work sonically to date.
can be said for the Zappa Symphonies
SA-CD, which also offers pieces by Graff, Schwindi, Mozart and Stamitz. Instead of this being works by innovative
musician, composer, counterculture figure and multi-channel innovator Frank
Zappa, it offers two works by 18th Century composer Francesco Zappa:
Symphony in B flat – “The Cello Symphony” and Symphony in D. These are under heard works and along with
the included works by other composers (Graff and Schwindi’s own separate
Symphony in D works, Mozart’s Symphony No. 5 “The Hague” and Stamitz’s Symphony
in C, Op. 24, no 1) seems to want to present a group of works that have Dutch
origins, connections and flavor. This
works well and the accompanying booklet confirms this theme.
both, but was not overwhelmed like I always expect, but there is a certain
pleasure to hearing a symphony in the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) format on
SA-CD in multi-channel 5.1 sound mix in both cases that Blu-ray’s 1080i HD
picture and lossless DTS-MA still cannot surpass. It is just smoother, even in these cases
where I expected more from the multi-channel sound as in previous Classical
genre SA-CD releases (including several by PentaTone) because the lack of sonic
ceiling has a smoothness that cannot be beat by any PCM-based format. The DSD 2.0 Stereo is also good
in its own way in both cases, but not as good as the 5.1 mixes. The PCM 2.0 Stereo for CDs sounds poorer by comparison
and that format could never deliver the smoothness of the other tracks anyhow.
Anyone interested in either release, especially
SA-CD audiophiles, should consider getting them.