HiRez Poll Boulez, Pierre & NY Philharmonic - BARTOK CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA

Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

Rate the SACD of Pierre Boulze - CONDUCTS BARTOK

  • 10: Great Surround, Great Presentation, Great Performance

    Votes: 10 62.5%
  • 9:

    Votes: 6 37.5%
  • 8:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 7:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 6:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2:

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1: Poor Surround, Poor Presentation, Poor Performance

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    16

JonUrban

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Please post your thoughts and comments on this 2018 Dutton-Vocalion SACD release of this classic classical album from the quadraphonic era, originally released in 1972 by Columbia on an SQ LP and Quadraphonic 8-Track, which was specifically recorded with quadraphonic sound in mind (Columbia MQ 32132, MAQ 32132).

As a bonus, this SACD also includes an additional quadraphonic Columbia SQ classical release, "The Miraculous Mandarin", which was originally Columbia MQ 31368.

NOTE: The Boulez conducts Bartok title (MQ 32132) was released by Sony in 2002 as a 5.1 SACD (SS 87710), but it was NOT the original quadraphonic mix. It was compromised, as for some bizarre reason it was more of a 3 channel remix - totally destroying the original intent of the recording!

This poll is ONLY for the 2018 Dutton-Vocalion SACD with the original stellar quadraphonic mix, as shown below.


39836

39837
 
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sjcorne

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It's a 10 from me, just for the Bartok Concerto tracks. Admittedly, I tend to steer clear of classical multichannel releases as most have the typical "orchestra in the front, hall ambience in rears" mix. This is not one of those. Recorded and mixed during the heyday of CBS' quad output, this title features a very aggressive quad mix that drops the listener right in the middle of the orchestra, just as the cover shows.

Unfortunately, quite a bit was lost in translation on the original SQ LP release. As most quad collectors know, SQ works best with dry, uber-discrete quad mixes with instruments localized to the four corners or hard-panned into specific speakers. This title features instruments in all four phantom positions (front center, left center, right center, back center) rather than just the corners, which is practically impossible to reproduce with even the best SQ decoding equipment.

I figured Sony's botched SACD from almost two decades ago squashed any chance of a proper reissue, so I worked with the Q8. The results were actually much better than expected, but now I can happily retire that conversion in favor of this excellently-mastered full-fidelity transfer from the quad master tape. Plus, there's no more break in "Elegia" (!!).

Here's waveforms from the entire album:

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 6.35.44 PM.png

Thanks so much to D-V for the long-overdue proper release of this historic quad mix. Even if you're someone who doesn't buy classical recordings, I'd suggest picking this up. In fact, I think every surround enthusiast should have this one in their collection.

bartok_collection.jpg

:)
 
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ar surround

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Admittedly, I tend to steer clear of classical multichannel releases as most have the typical "orchestra in the front, hall ambience in rears" mix. This is not one of those. Recorded and mixed during the heyday of CBS' quad output, this title features a very aggressive quad mix that drops the listener right in the middle of the orchestra, just as the cover shows.
I have never experienced a surround-sound classical recording that draws me into the music like this Boulez/Bartok quad. I can't imagine another recording that would piss off the stereo-only crowd as much as this one...and that's good for us QuadHeads! Some purists may not care for this recording because it does not duplicate the typical performance of a particular piece in a particular venue. But my collection would have many more classical orchestral recordings if they were presented in the manner of this Boulez gem. Totally enveloping. Much thanks to sjcorne for his recommendation of this title.

One thing that I did notice is that there is an occasional tick or pop in the recording...but not quite like what one would hear from vinyl. I wonder if these anomalies are random sounds from the orchestra picked up by the microphones? Regardless, this D-V Epoch release gets a 10+
 

humprof

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I'll add my ranking--but not much more, as Jonathan and @ar surround have eloquently detailed this recording's virtues already. I'm not as fond of Bartok as I am of other contemporary composers, so I'll probably not play this more than once a year. But even if, on the basis of personal taste, I wouldn't give the content top marks, nevertheless on "Surround, Presentation, and Performance" the Concerto is a 10 across the board, and Miraculous Mandarin gets more than an honorable mention Seriously: this is how all orchestral surround should be handled. And it's such a joy to have Sony's SACD travesty corrected and replaced by this immaculate reissue.
 

Imbobman

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Well......I'm a little late to the party here I know. Had this one unopened for quite sometime & finally thought I'd give it a listen since I'm considering purchasing more classical titles from DV. I'm glad I did because now I know what 'true' classical quad should sound like.
In one word, 'Outstanding'!
Wow, a great quad mix, great fidelity & 'near great' content. I'm not a classical music aficionado but still do enjoy it a lot. This was the first time I'd ever heard this done in any form. Just a beautiful performance!
Really can't add much to the discussion as everyone else has said it far better than I could. I gave this a 9 & feel a bit ashamed since everyone else gave it a 10....
Really interesting liner notes with this one. I'm amazed at what Columbia Masterworks did back in the early '70s recording this....26 microphones used & mixed on to 8 tracks then down to quad. Analog... Are we actually making much better recordings than this today, in 2019?
D-V, also has done a masterful job with this one. Thank you to all the original engineers involved & for D-V getting it right.
 

steelydave

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Came across this advertisement for this album in the April 1973 issue of High Fidelity Magazine and thought it might be of interest.

There's also an interesting interview with John McClure (who produced a lot of Columbia Masterworks quads) on page 20 of the same magazine about recording and mixing Boulez and Bernstein in quad too.

High_Fidelity_Magazine_April_1973_Boulez_Bartok_ad.jpg
 

ubertrout

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Came across this advertisement for this album in the April 1973 issue of High Fidelity Magazine and thought it might be of interest.

There's also an interesting interview with John McClure (who produced a lot of Columbia Masterworks quads) on page 20 of the same magazine about recording and mixing Boulez and Bernstein in quad too.

View attachment 49444
Guessing you've seen NYT's article on classical quad, including interviews with Boulez: Hi‐Fi. Boulez's background was in avant-garde and early electronic music, and he probably the most willing to be adventrous with quad of any major conductor.
 

ubertrout

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Incidentally, if D/V were so moved, Bernstein's recordings of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Oedipus Rex would (barely) fit on one disc as playing times get longer - Oedipus Rex is 52:38, while the Rite is 30:56 (so 83: 34 total).
 

steelydave

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Guessing you've seen NYT's article on classical quad, including interviews with Boulez: Hi‐Fi. Boulez's background was in avant-garde and early electronic music, and he probably the most willing to be adventrous with quad of any major conductor.
Thanks, I hadn't read that actually. The quotes at the end from Larry Keyes and Max Wilcox ended up being incredibly prescient, especially when it came to pop in quad - by 1975, quad mixes had indeed become much less "showy" and there were very few of those ping-pong type effects that the early mixes used to show off.

Those quotes are also interesting because often we blame (or laud) engineers for the quality of a mix, with no idea of what kind of pressure or instruction they were under from people in the label hierarchy to make their mixes more gimmicky...sort of the opposite of how we perceive things to be today, with modern surround mixes often not aggressive enough.
 

ubertrout

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It's interesting to compare Ormandy's RCA recordings with the Columbia recordings - it seems easy to focus on the engineers for the more conservative mixing, but in reality it seems like he himself wanted a much more conservative mix - not surprising considering he was a generation older.
 

ubertrout

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Also, because I take every opportunity to make these suggestions to @steelydave, doesn't hearing the legendary Budapest String Quartet's last recordings in aggressive quad sound like a lot of fun - one instrument per channel. The only one I see a release for is this, which is the string quartet (now numbered no. 12), and the string quintet Op 97, both written during his brief time in America and among the favorites of the repertoire:

This is the "American" Quartet, for those interested:

 

quicksrt

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Also, because I take every opportunity to make these suggestions to @steelydave, doesn't hearing the legendary Budapest String Quartet's last recordings in aggressive quad sound like a lot of fun - one instrument per channel. The only one I see a release for is this, which is the string quartet (now numbered no. 12), and the string quintet Op 97, both written during his brief time in America and among the favorites of the repertoire:

This is the "American" Quartet, for those interested:

It does sound like fun. Dvorak being one of my favorite classical composers. This type of quad mix would be quite great.
 

national-kid

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Other than Boulez's BARTOK, I think that CBS has multi-channel SACD whose mix is different from the original SQ vinyl.

By the way, even if it is called surround in the classical music, most of the method is a reverberation in the rear. However, recording / editing the rear reverberation sound with the rear microphone is difficult to perform in reality, so I think that the rear channel is mostly pseudo-generated with electronic echo.
(I'm the only one who feels cheated?)
 

ubertrout

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Other than Boulez's BARTOK, I think that CBS has multi-channel SACD whose mix is different from the original SQ vinyl.

By the way, even if it is called surround in the classical music, most of the method is a reverberation in the rear. However, recording / editing the rear reverberation sound with the rear microphone is difficult to perform in reality, so I think that the rear channel is mostly pseudo-generated with electronic echo.
(I'm the only one who feels cheated?)
Yeah, there's a lot of suspicion that most if not all of the Sony SACDs where a quadraphonic source was available did not use it. It's unfortunate.
 

CRWSurround

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Just a quick note rather than an extensive review. I came across all of these reviews - read them all and became excited to order the disc. I prefer surround mixes with discrete content in each channel so this disc sounded like one I should have, especially as a former violinist in an orchestra. I immediately went to the Dutton-Vocalion site where I have an account and it said they were out of stock and the site gave no indication of future replenishment. So, I went to Amazon and there it was and I ordered it and finally received it more than a month later - but I DID get it. Fantastic disc to listen to - as all here have stated much more eloquently than me. So glad I came across these reviews! Thanks!
 

Stupy

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Err. Anyone know if one can purchase a legal digital download of the 2018 mix? Or any format other than sacd? :/ I've searched and no luck.
 

ngv99

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For starters, the mix is absolutely phenomenal and this is powerful stuff. I can't say this is one of my favorite classical pieces, though. (I'm far from a classical music connoisseur, I just know what I like). Much preferred the Concerto for Orchestra over the Miraculous Mandarin. I give it a 9 solely because I wasn't crazy about the music itself. The mix alone is a 10.
 
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