PENTATONE INITIAL SACD RELEASES (March 2003)

Contents of each CD are listed below. Reviews are in Surround Sound feature on this site. To read review, click on links

BEETHOVEN:  Symphony No. 5.  MENDELSSOHN:  Symphony No. 4.
BBC and Boston Symphony Orch/Sir Colin Davis, cond.
(PTC 5186 102)

BEETHOVEN:  Piano Concertos 2 and 4. 
Stephen Kovacevich, pianist; BBC Symphony Orch/Sir Colin Davis
(PTC 5186 101)

VIVALDI:  Six Flute Concertos. 
Severino Gazzelloni, flute; I Musici
(PTC 5186 108)

MOZART:  Horn Concertos.  Rondo. 
Alan Civil, horn; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner, cond.
(PTC 5186 195)

HANDEL:  Organ Concertos, Vol. I & II
Daniel Chorzempa, organ; Concerto Amsterdam/Jaap Schroder, cond. (PTC 5186 103 & 104)

TCHAIKOVSKY:  Symphony No. 6.  Nutcracker Suite.
Orchestre de Paris/Seiji Ozawa, cond.
(PTC 5186 107)

ROSSINI:  Eight Overtures 
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner, cond.
(PTC 5186 106)
These eight CDs are initial releases in a series on a new label, PENTATONE, recordings originally made by Philips in four channel sound in the early 1970's.  At that time there was considerable interest in quadraphonic recordings although equipment on which to play them was not perfected. Experimental Quadraphonic LPs were not successful, so these tapes were never issued in four-track sound.  Now, with the advent of SACD (Super Audio Compact Disk) which can convey multiple channels and have audio quality superior to regular CDs, these original four-channel recordings are being issued, identified as RQR - Remastered Quadro Recordings.  Although SACDs are capable of carrying six discrete channels (identified as 5.1), these Pentatone CDs contain just the four original channels - left and right, front and rear (some CD players might indicate there are five channels when playing these CDs, but there are only four - this is an eccentricity of the player which apparently cannot read the information accurately).

How do they sound?  Magnificent in every way, rather proving that four channels are all needed to convey totally natural sound.  Directionality is not exaggerated, performers are primarily in front, but ambient sound from the back adds remarkable realism to the sonic picture.  With SACD's improved sonic capability, strings no longer have the edgy quality heard on previous LP/CD issues. 

These CDs actually contain three different versions of the program.  If you have a regular CD player, you can play the regular CD stereo tracks. If you have an SACD player you can listen to the regular stereo tracks but via the SACD channels, which are quite superior to the regular CD tracks. And if you have an SACD player and multi-channel equipment, you can hear the program in four-channel sound. List price on these superb CDs is about $20.

Pentatone will issue six new multi-channel recordings in late April 2003:  music of Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn for violin and orchestra played by Vesko Eschenkenazy with the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra conducted by  Marco Boni, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings and Souvenir of Florence, and a Mozart program with the same orchestra and conductor, "200 Years of Organ Music" played by Bram Beekman, Mahler's Symphony No. 5 with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hartmut Haenchen, and Schmidt's Symphony No. 4 and music from Notre Dame with the Netherlands Philharmonic conducted by Yakov Kreizberg.

R.E.B. (March 2003)