And the death of SACD continues.
Just as Pentatone is abandoning the format and switching to CD-only releases, mid-stream, Chandos follows suit with this second in the series of Korngold works. The first (featuring the Symphony in F#) was SACD, but this one is not. Similarly, Pentatone has done the same thing with their "Aspects of America" series with the Oregon Symphony. The first two releases were SACD, but the newest one is CD-only.
It's bad enough we are losing multi-channel and the higher-quality DSD recording format, but it's a stab to the collector that it's happening arbitrarily, without regard for continuity of ongoing projects. And it gets worse. Chandos continues to charge full-premium price for their CD-only releases. At least Pentatone is giving a substantial price-break for theirs.
Yes, I'm complaining.
However, it cannot be denied this release is outstanding. The Violin Concerto moves along with flowing tempos and natural musical expression. Violinist Andrew Haveron's playing is mercifully free of the fussy over-emoting and nauseating portamentos so many violinists insist on slathering on this music. The radiant recording highlights his rich, colorful and expressive tone beautifully. His playing reminds me of the wonderful, and sadly underrated, Henryk Szeryng. And John Wilson gives us endless amounts of delicious inner-details from the orchestra which normally go by without notice. The wonderful Sextet which follows is a substantial work, lasting a full 31 minutes (longer even than the Concerto). It is gloriously played by members of Wilson's own Sinfonia of London (which also features Andrew Haveron as 1st violin). The sound all through is remarkably good - airy, spacious and colorful. It's certainly better than some recent CD-only releases from this label.
Yes, CD still has life in it. And this one is exceptional. Despite the absence of multi-channel SACD, and it being proffered at full premium price, I can't help but recommend it heartily.