Music in the Round #11 Recordings in the Round

Sidebar: Recordings in the Round

Of eight new RCA Living Stereo transfers to three-channel SACD I've received (I don't yet have the Ravel-Debussy or Berlioz discs), the two listed below stood out.

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade STRAVINSKY: The Song of the Nightingale Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony RCA Living Stereo 66376-2 (SACD)

Two immortal recordings. Reiner's familiar Scheherazade is, on this SACD, unrivaled in breadth of soundstage and instrumental detail. His brilliant Nightingale is more powerful and colorful than even the Dorati/LSO on the Mercury Living Presence SACD. If you want incontrovertible proof of the musical and audio virtues of RCA's Living Stereo series, don't miss this one!

GLAZUNOV: Violin Concerto PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto 2 SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto Jascha Heifetz, violin; Walter Hendl, Chicago Symphony, RCA Victor Symphony; Charles Munch, Boston Symphony RCA Living Stereo 66372-2 (SACD)

As in his Living Stereo recordings of the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos, Heifetz is front and center here, and as glorious as ever. When has there been an icier Sibelius, a more slashing Prokofiev, a more colorful Glazunov? The varied orchestral support is excellent, and offered with more power and balance than on the Beethoven-Mendelssohn disc.

SIBELIUS: Symphonies 3 & 7 Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony LSO Live LSO-0552 (SACD)

This is the first release in Colin Davis' third traversal of the Sibelius symphonies, which already has the markings of being the best. Tempos are broader and more flexible than before, and the LSO is very responsive. The sound reveals the orchestra's best, and almost more than you want to know about London's Barbican Hall. More, please, sir!

R. STRAUSS: Suite from Der Bürger als Edelmann, Duet-Concertino for Clarinet & Bassoon, Sextet from Capriccio Paavo Järvi, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Pentatone PTC 5186 060 (SACD)

Following on the heels of their marvelous Stravinsky disc, Paavo Järvi and his Bremen players create another delightful concert. Suffused with style, grace, and gemütlichkeit, this is some of Strauss's most ingratiating music. Of course, it helps that Pentatone sets it all in a realistic and transparent soundstage that is a model of how multichannel recording should be done.

ROBERT CRAY BAND: Time Will Tell Silverline 284515-2 (DualDisc)

I missed this tight, driving electric-blues disc when it was released on DVD-Audio in November 2003. Now on DualDisc (one side CD, the other DVD-A), it played on all the players I tried, despite scare stories to the contrary. Your mileage may vary. Highlights are "Survivor" and "Back Door Slam." While the latter is offered in full video and DTS, it, like the rest, is best appreciated in uncompressed DVD-A.

PETER GABRIEL: Play: The Videos Warner Vision 970396 (DVD)

Ignore the spectacular video, if you can, and plunge into these newly remastered tracks of Gabriel's best stuff from past decades. Overseen by Daniel Lanois and mastered on cutting-edge 24-bit/96kHz DTS hardware (the bit rates confirm the high resolution), each track is more communicative and dramatic than ever, and the surround effects are interesting and effective. It may irk the old school, but you can impress friends with this one!