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  Esoteric -
  Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake (highlights) - Fistoulari
  Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Op. 20 (highlights)

Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
Anatole Fistoulari (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 3

Review by Oyster January 30, 2010 (9 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
There has been much debate as to whether the premium charged for the Esoteric reissues is justified, with many correspondents pointing out the discrepancy between their prices and, particularly, those of other classical reissues such as Mercury Living Presence and RCA Living Stereo. I think I would have to say that, if you really like the music, and if this Swan Lake is a fair sample, then they are worth the price. And when you consider that you would have to pay somewhere between two and three times the price for a fine copy of the original Decca LP, then the cost begins to seem more reasonable.

The Mercury and RCA reissues I own are very enjoyable and certainly good value. It seems certain that the producers have taken great care over the transfers and the sound is good. But I don't think you could ever be fooled into thinking that you are listening to a new recording - the strings can sound dull and distant, piano constrained, and the whole thing sounds just like an old LP, albeit one in perfect condition. With the Esoteric, apart from (very restrained) tape hiss, I don't know how the average ear could detect that it is not listening to a brand new DSD production. The brilliance and sweetness of the strings, the delicacy and detail in the quiet passages, the realism of the brass, the dynamics and just the sheer power of the full orchestra make for a remarkable listening experience. Decca's engineering wizardry in the 50s and 60s is well known of course but even so, it seems impossible that the master tape could have survived in such condition, or that it could have been transferred to digital with such transparency.

I don't think I am qualified to appraise the performance, but I understand that Fistoulari was considered the pre-eminent ballet conductor of his time, and of course the Concertgebouw were then, as now, one of the world's leading orchestras. I also believe that the recording venue, their "home" in Amsterdam, has a reverberation time of 2.8 seconds empty, which is reckoned to make it ideal for the characteristics of late Romantic music. Certainly it all sounds right, full and powerful in the dramatic movements, moving and lush in the romantic ones.

The packaging is very smart, like a mini hardback book, although the contents, except for a couple of pages, are wasted on all but Japanese scholars. Still, it helps to make you feel a bit better about that price. I'm hoping that Esoteric will be encouraged to continue their venture and pull out more gems from the Decca catalogue.

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Review by petrushka1975 March 25, 2012 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The original recording was awarded a rosette by the Penguin Guide, and the Esoteric remastered version reviewed here ranks among my handful of best sounding discs. Musically, one finds neither the lushness or sparkle of Ansermet or the infectious rhythm of Dorati. The presentation is more majestic than sentimental, with Fistoulari sounding conservative and calculated. This approach combines well with the sound, which packs as dense and taut a low end as one can expect for a ballet work with instrumental attacks sounding surprisingly articulate and determined. The focus here, it seems, is on the drama rather than lyrical beauty.

Sonically it is the Decca Tree sound at its best, and then some. The soundstage is vast and layered. The timpani and lower strings are rendered with a fortress-like weight, which is to say very deep, taut and resolute. There is a slight metallic quality to mass strings and the brass but not in a way that is unnatural or distracting. The sonic impact and dynamics are comparable to the best Living Presence recordings and become truly astounding in the finale. It is a very enjoyable disc and one that I would not want to be without in my collection.

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Review by onenairb January 11, 2010 (8 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Is this the best Scenes from Swan Lake album? Well I also have a Karajan RBCD of the same which I do love and I could think of some phrasing on Karajan that I prefer but the performance is still excellent. To be honest there are frankly much better qualified people on this forum to discuss the technicalities of this than me so I apologise for the lack of decriptive detail on the performance. It excellent and the quality of the sonics (and the other Esoteric recordings I have) is just superb.

Esoteric SACD's are not widely availible, are quite expensive and have been produced in fairly limited quantity (1000 for each release I was told). I obtained this disc in the UK from one of the Teac/Esoteric dealers and I would suggest your nearest Teac/Esoteric retailer is the easiest way to obtain them.

Alot of care has been taken with the packaging. The booklet is mainly in Japanese but there are a couple of pages in English.

If you love Swan Lake, I'm sure you'll love this highly recommended stereo SACD.

Purchase if you can.

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Works: 1  

Peter Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake, TH 12 Op. 20