Cutting Up: Stereophile's Liszt Piano Sonata LP Summing Up

Summing Up: John Atkinson
While it is possible to squeeze 30 minutes onto an LP side, generally both dynamic range and low-frequency extension have to be sacrificed. As we did not want to equalize, limit, or compress the piano sound in any way for the Sonata LP, we had to omit four of the Liszt piano works that are on the CD: the two La lugubre gondola pieces and the two Années de Pelèrinage, First Year: Switzerland pieces, Vallée d'Obermann (S.160/6) and Orage (S.160/5). But the program on the LP works well, the tender lyricism of Liebestraum proving an effective counter to the emotional depths and sonic heights reached in the B-Minor Sonata.

And a point that I had all but forgotten in these days of the silver disc—a gatefold LP sleeve has so much more real estate than a CD! Not only could we get almost all 28 pages of the CD booklet onto the gatefold sleeve, we could use a bigger typeface and feature Gene Newmann's superb cover painting (footnote 4) at a more appropriate size.

Stan Ricker and RTI did a great job on the cutting and pressing, I feel. I am proud of the result. Our 180gm Sonata LP (STPH008-1) costs $19.95 plus S&H and be be bought from this website's Recordings page. It can also be ordered from Acoustic Sounds—(800) 716-3553.

To answer Michael's question above, I feel the 20-bit master has the edge over both consumer media. Does the Sonata LP sound better than the CD? We'll leave it to you to decide. But, more importantly, once your stylus hits the groove, you should put aside such audiophile issues and enjoy the music. And, courtesy of Robert Silverman, it's great music!—John Atkinson

Footnote 4: Eugene Newmann, born in 1936 in Bratislava in what was then Czechoslovakia, lives and paints in Santa Fe, NM.