SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 1 in F, Op. 10. Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47.
London Philharmonic Orch/Kurt Masur, cond.
LPO LIVE SACD 0001 (F) (4 channel) TT: 79:29
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RACHMANINOFF: The Isle of the Dead, Op. 29. Symphonic Dances, Op. 45.
London Philharmonic Orch/Vladimir Jurowski, cond.
LPO LIVE SACD 0004 (F) (4.1 channel) TT: 60:17
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SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43. Symphony No. 7 in C, Op. 105
London Philhlarmonic Orch/Paavo Berglund, cond.
LPO LIVE SACD 0005 (F) (4 channel) TT: 67:51
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SMETANA: Má Vlast
London Symphony Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.
LSO LIVE SACD LS00516 (F) TT: 75:15
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The first two releases listed above are admirable additions to the London Philharmonic Orchestra's series, and to the SACD catalog. Kurt Masur and the LPO recorded both of the listed Shostakovich symphonies "between Jan. 31, 2004 and Feb. 3, 2004." Vladimir Jurowski recorded the Symphonic Dances Oct. 29, 2003, Isle of the Dead Dec. 8, 2004. All concerts were given in Royal Festival Hall. Limo Hearn was recording engineer, Mike Hatch mastering engineer for all of these, and the two have done a magnificent job sonically. These superlative performances have been captured with uncommon clarity and presence in surround sound (4.0 for the Shostakovich, 4.1 for the Rachmaninoff). The sound is bit dry; a touch more resonance would have been welcome, but what is heard on these recordings will delight audiophiles with its wide dynamic range and "you are there" effect.

It's always a pleasure to hear Paavo Berglund conduct Sibelius, but these performances (No. 2 recorded Feb. 16, 2005, No. 7 Dec. 6, 2003) don't equal his commercial recordings. Even though Hearn and Hatch were involved in the technical side of these recordings which also were recorded in Royal Festival Hall, sound disappoints, the LPO sounds thin, and dynamic range is restricted. Two out of these three isn't bad for the LPO series.

Sir Colin Davis's live performance of Smetana's Má Vlast, in the London Symphony Orchestra's live series, is a winner all the way. This is a dynamic, if sometimes odd (notably the ending of Sarka), reading, brilliantly played by the LSO, recorded by producer James Mellinson and balance engineer Jonathan Stokes. Brass playing is outstanding, and sonic quality of this SACD is among the best in the LSO Live series.

R.E.B. (December 2005)

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