|Review by sperlsco December 10, 2007 (16 of 19 found this review helpful)
|I purchased three of the new Sony/Japan releases of Bernstein's first Mahler cycle from HMV.jp: the third, fourth, and seventh symphonies. My comments apply generally to all three of these performances, but are being posted in this one review location. From my personal standpoint, there is no sense in discussing these classic performances, except to say that the M3 is as close as I get to an absolute top choice in any Mahler symphony, while both the M4 and M7 are easy top-tier selections of mine (and I own a minimum of thirty versions of every one of Mahler's symphonies).
So, is it worth paying full price + international shipping charges to get these from Japan? Absolutely! These releases are an absolute revelation in terms of sound. The sound is sharp and three-dimensional, while individual instruments are distinct and well-articulated. There is very little, if any, congestion in the tutti's and very little stridency in the sound. The main thing that is missing is the real deep impactful bass (i.e. deep bass drums), but bass is much tighter than on the CD releases. These are 5 channel releases, but the rear channels are used only for a small amount of ambient sound, which probably adds just a little three-dimensionality. I hear very little tape hiss in these performances, so I wonder if others will complain aboout a rolled-off top-end -- which I do not discern.
It is rather strange that the sounds cuts off quickly at the end of some of the movements (M3-1, M3-6, M7-5 are very noticeable). I also noticed a very minor sound problem at 4:49 of M4-3, where there is a digital-noise/electrical buzz sound (lasts less than a second). One interesting note from the M4 finale is that Reri Grist's voice sounds like it is anchored in the center channel, but every bit of it is coming from the front-left/right speakers. For those interested, the center channel is utilized throughout -- just not in this specific instance.
To sum up -- Bravo to the Sony/Japan remastering engineers.
FYI - My surround system is not audiophile, but is modest hi-fi. I have a Denon 2803 receiver, Sony 775 SACD player, NHT Classic 3 speakers across the front, NHT Superones in back, and an SVS subwoofer.
My review has been mostly cross-copied from the gustavmahlerboard.com
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