Review by Coffee Kev October 18, 2005 (7 of 10 found this review helpful)
|The Debussy is my favorite quartet and the Ravel is, well, my other favorite. My favorite recording has long been the Orlando's 1967 recording. I was looking forward to this recording, more so after discovering that the Parkanyi is more-or-less the same group.
Wrong. This new recording, while in and of itself, is very, very good, lacks the sparkle and youthful energy and risk taking of the Orlando's version. The recording, done in a larger and more reverberant church, is just a trifle too echoey for me. The earlier analog version appears to have been recorded in a smaller space, but with microphones a little further away. It's always hard to seperate one's feelings of comfort with an old pair of shoes, but I imagine if I heard them both fresh, I'd still prefer the older Orlando version, both sound and performance.
Oddly, even though the Orlando is still on redbook CD, it sounds just as warm. Still, I look forward to its final release on SACD.
If you haven't heard the Orlando, the Parkanyi version is certainly worth a listen. I paid $23 at Tower Records, which is hardly a bargain price. I'd try to audition it first, if possible.
Another great (DDD) performance and very listenable sound is the Keller Quartet recording on a $6.99 Teldec budget release. The performance is less "grand" but warmer and played with more energy in a better acoustic.
Considering I pulled quarters our of my car's ashtray to buy the Parkyani's SACD disc when I found it, I'm disapointed. It just shows that the ratio between cost and performance isn't everything and that SACD alone doesn't mean it will sound better, although that is in no way the fault of the newer (and decidedly better) format. It just says that the choice of room and where the mikes are placed is still king, as well as how much coffee the band had before they played. :)
So, good, but not quite great. (I'm playing the Orlando's redbook right now and IT is GREAT!)
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