Classical in surround - Awesome: but where to start?

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JonUrban

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Most folks here are pop/rockers, but listening to classical orchestra music on a good surround system is a special experience. The power of that many musicians playing at the same time can really be captured on a 5.1 SACD or DVD-A.

I have quite a few members PM me asking for suggestions as to what to get when someone does not know that much about classical music in general, and believe me, I am the wrong guy to ask! :D Like many, I happen to like it, I just can't tell one title from the other in the racks, other than the "big ones", like Beethoven 9th, 5th, William Tell Overature, etc.

Most folks these days hear classical first in soundtracks in everything from commercials, cartoons and feature films. There are many classical pieces listeners may recognize upon hearing them, but would have no idea as to what they are called and who wrote them.

A thread like this has been started in the past, but let's try it again. If you have a favorite 5.1 SACD or DVD-A of the classical music genre that you like, and you think that others may also like it (or recognize the music and enjoy it), why not list it here.

If you don't like classical music, please do us a favor and don't let us know that you don't.

THANKS
 

Chris Gerhard

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I am not very knowledgable either but my recommendation is to get the most highly recommended of whatever surround titles are available on SACD from yourmusic.com to start with. I have about 10 classical high resolution discs and play them very infrequently but you are right, classical music in surround is impressive. Novices can buy the few still available from yourmusic.com for $5.99 including shipping before the Telarc, Naxos and other label releases that demand a much higher price. I have a couple of Classical Silverline DVD-A's I like as well. I don't have any preferred titles to recommend from my 10 since I can't really remember what any of the tunes are. Trying to hum one now futilely. When I rarely play one it is at random without even knowing the title. I still always enjoy the music.

Chris
 

Kal Rubinson

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Not a great selection but:
Harnoncourt: Mozart Requiem
Davis: Walton Sym #1
Rostropovich: Shostakovich Sym #5
Chris Brubeck: Convergence

Any of the RCA-LS or Mercury-LP that appeal but they are only 3channel.
 

ct

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For classical in surround-sound I think you start with labels that do original recordings in 5.1 well; then go to some of the rather easy to listen to composers. For labels I find Tacet; Pentatone; BIS; Channel Classics;hyprion; MDG uniformly meet my first criterion. For composers I'd start with Mozart; Tchaikovsky; Beethoven; Grieg; Saint-Saens; Schubert; Bach; Vivaldi. The list, of course, goes on and on.
 

mandel

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Any of the RCA-LS or Mercury-LP that appeal but they are only 3channel.
Seconded, as long as your centre channel is up to the job, some of the discs (particularly the concertos) are very centre heavy. They're not surround, but they do sound fantastic.

Other than that my starter suggestions would be (all on SACD):
Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 (Mariss Jansons conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra). Label: RCO Live
Fantastic sonics on this one, somehow manages to have a hell of a lot of ambience in the surrounds while the orchestra is superbly focused up front. Must be a combination of a great recording team and a superb venue.

Hector Berlioz - Requiem (Roberto Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (Tenor: Frank Lopardo)). Label: Telarc
This piece requires 4 brass ensembles placed at the 4 corners of the room, perfect material for a surround recording. This recording captures it very well and even has the solo tenor at the back of the hall. Some people have said that the performance is a little too laid back, this recording seems very popular (but I haven't heard it myself)

Ralph Vaughan Williams - A London Symphony (Richard Hickox conducting the London Symphony Orchestra). Label: Chandos
Recorded in a church, big acoustics, a bit muddy but I think it works well for this piece. This is also the only recording available of the longer original version of this symphony.

Béla Bartók - The Miraculous Mandarin (Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). Label: Naxos
An interesting mix, most of the orchestra is at the front but some instruments are outside the front stereo arc. Doesn't sound 'faked' so was probably recorded with some instruments off-stage. It's a bit 'aircraft hanger' sounding, but for this piece it works.

The Silverline DVD-As are a bit variable. They're rechanneled to 5.1 from old 3 or 4 track masters and are 'wrap-around' surround. The Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 1 and No. 2 discs are nice (despite some microphone overload in the finale of the second).
 
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Kal Rubinson

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Seconded, as long as your centre channel is up to the job, some of the discs (particularly the concertos) are very centre heavy. They're not surround, but they do sound fantastic.
Right. I keep forgetting that QuadQuad doesn't mean Quint/Quint.

Let me also put in a plug for the "Recordings in the Round" feature that accompanies most of my columns where the majority of recommendations are classical.

Kal
 

bmoura

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Most folks here are pop/rockers, but listening to classical orchestra music on a good surround system is a special experience. The power of that many musicians playing at the same time can really be captured on a 5.1 SACD or DVD-A.

A thread like this has been started in the past, but let's try it again. If you have a favorite 5.1 SACD or DVD-A of the classical music genre that you like, and you think that others may also like it (or recognize the music and enjoy it), why not list it here.

If you don't like classical music, please do us a favor and don't let us know that you don't.

THANKS
One to be sure and check out is the Sonoma Records release "Music for Organ, Brass and Timpani" by organist Anthony Newman, the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble and Timpanist Duncan Patton (Sonoma Records SAC-001). It's available from Acoustic Sounds and Elusive Disc, among others.

It's a direct to DSD recording designed to show off the Super Audio CD format in Surround. The musicians are arranged in a horseshoe layout and if you give this SACD a bit of extra volume on playback it's pretty spectacular.

See http://www.highfidelityreview.com/news/news.asp?newsnumber=11633557 for a write-up when it was first released.
 

Chris Gerhard

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If you do an album title search on yourmusic.com with (SACD), it comes up with a few more titles for some reason. Shows 50 total that way just now. I put Chris Brubeck "Convergence" in my queue to ship next after inquiring online and listening a little. No way to tell much about the surround mix but some reviews are complimentary. I had dismissed it previously concluding it was a classical experiment by a jazz musician. It sounds interesting to me now.

Chris
 

Kal Rubinson

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Guy Robinson

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Chris Gerhard

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There are a couple more new SACD releases at yourmusic.com. Sir Colin Davis w/London Symphony Orchestra live recordings but sa-cd.net indicates they get mostly good reviews and at this price may be a great deal.

Chris
 

stormchaser

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I'm finding some of the Living Stereo SACDs showing up in the used bins around here. I picked up Fritz Reiner's recording of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and I am floored. I am not a very knowledgeable classical listener but the sound quality here to me is amazing. I picked this up 8 bucks used and it retails new for 12. If your center channel is up to the challenge (as has been noted here these are three-channel recordings), I highly recommend this one.
 

Guy Robinson

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I'm finding some of the Living Stereo SACDs showing up in the used bins around here. I picked up Fritz Reiner's recording of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and I am floored. I am not a very knowledgeable classical listener but the sound quality here to me is amazing. I picked this up 8 bucks used and it retails new for 12. If your center channel is up to the challenge (as has been noted here these are three-channel recordings), I highly recommend this one.
I have 40 of them (I am missing the operas) and they are almost all of very good quality. In total they make a very nice introductory library of classical music.
 

neil wilkes

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Try the DTS series of CD/DVD-A that are being sold.
I have their Mozart, Schubert & Tchaikovsky discs, all conducted by Don Jackson and featuring either the London Symphony Orchestra, or else the London Philharmonic. Very well recorded, superb 5.1 mixes that are fully discrete as well (not just the usual reverbs in the rear job).

Also spotted recently.
I'm not the worlds biggest SACD fan, but the Australians - with the backing of government money, apparently, are putting out Wagners Ring Cycle - in it's entirity - in 5.1 on SACD. I saw the article in one of the online DVD-Audio sites, and it may be old news to some but was the first I had heard of it.....may well be worth a look. It didn't say if it would be in the written german, or Goodall's English version (which I have on SQ Vinyl!!)
Either way, multichannel Wagner - done well - cannot be anything other than impressive!
 

Felix E. Martinez

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The Melba Ring Cycle is in German, 5.1 and very, very good! Die Walkure and Das Rheingold are already out, and I highly recommend Die Walkure - the Ride of the Valkyries is pretty impressive in surround - just don't expect helicopter flybys and massive artillery from the surrounds ;)
 
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