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Rate the SACD of Michel Legrand - TWENTY SONGS OF THE CENTURY

  • 8

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  • 1: Poor Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

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  • Total voters


Hi-Res Moderator
Staff member
QQ Supporter
Oct 31, 2008
Middle TN
Please post your thoughts and comments on this 2016 SACD containing the original Quadraphonic mix of the album "Twenty Songs of the Century" by Michel Legrand, which can be purchased here: http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.php?prod=CDLK4591

(n) :) (y)

Outstanding disc. The quad mix is adventurous, active and ultra-discrete. Musically it’s an eclectic instrumental journey through the 20th century songbook. Most selections are jazz-based scored for strings, brass and woodwinds with some impressive soloists (including Toots Thielemans, Ron Carter, Eddie Daniels and Phil Woods). Legrand’s arrangements are superb and offer up plenty of surprises and variety. Standouts include ‘How High the Moon’ with a nod to Les Paul’s double speed technique, Duke Ellington’s ‘Solitude’ featuring a nifty scat vocal ensemble, and Jobim’s ‘One Note Samba’ which employs multi-tracked piano in every channel and ample Latin percussion. But my favorite has to be the closer, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ featuring some outstanding contrapuntal wind and string writing over a relaxed gospel/R&B backing. And the fidelity is superb throughout. A 10.

Here’s a snippet from Legrand’s liner notes explaining his approach to the project:

This album is not designed as either “mood” or “background” music. (I detest those words that diminish not only the power, but also the very meaning of music.) If, in some of the selections, you are shocked to hear a tuba where before you have always heard violins, or a harmonica instead of a brass choir, or a synthesizer suddenly appearing in a baroque setting or more pianos than seem either natural or even possible, then I have succeeded in my work.
Holy macaroni you guys, I just listened to this for the first time and it's phenomenal. If you're going to buy one disc from the current batch of D-V titles after Tower Of Power and Main Ingredient, this is the one.

I don't want to spoil all the surprises, but this sounds like one of those albums that was conceived as a quad release from the ground up, even if that might not be the case. D-V have performed a minor miracle finding this one in the Sony vaults, it's an absolute travesty that it's taken 45 years for technology to catch up to the point that we can hear this music in the same quality that it was heard when it was being recorded and mixed.

Top-notch recording, great arrangements and fantastic soloists, and probably the best sounding strings I've ever heard on a non-classical recording.
This was a very nice surprise! I actually bought it based on the reviews/description in this thread.

I voted a strong 9.

Beautiful and sometimes quirky (in a good way) arrangements of these classic songs and excellent sonics and 4.0-mix. I like all of the songs really, my favorite being Stormy Weather where the arrangements and playing is living up to the title of the song.
Just got it today. I haven't finished listening yet, but it's worth getting alone for "One Note Samba". That may be one of the single best quad demo tracks I've heard to date. It's a must hear if you like Enoch Light-style ping-pong action.
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This disc really took me by surprise. Although I had heard of Michel Legrand, I didn’t have any of his albums. I bought this just for filler in my initial order of SACDs from Dutton Vocalion and I’m sure glad I did.

As others have mentioned, One Note Samba is a standout track and a great demonstration of what SACD has to offer. However, there are several other gems on this disc. Legrand was a bit more of a risk taker than Conniff or Percy Faith; far less predictable.

I give it a strong 9.
Received my copy barely two hours ago. What a treat this is. The fidelity is astounding, the clarity unbelievable – and the mix is just something else. Highly recommended thus far. I'll hold my vote until I've listened to it a couple more times.

Edit 1: I‘ve yet to vote, as I only listened to it once as a whole and another time only about half. I really digg it. The Mix is superbly done, very adventurous most of the time and I‘d say viciously demanding to once set-up. I‘ve got four full blown speakers, this disc pumps bass through the rears as if they were front speakers. Amazing!
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People, I just don’t understand.
I initially passed over this Vocalion release because I wasn’t familiar with Michel Legrand. I believe I pulled up a quick sample on YouTube and decided I didn’t need yet another easy listening quad release from Vocalion Even though I knew (and liked) all but two songs from the titles. I have been buying most of the Vocalion quads that have been released because I wanted to support them with the hopes they’ll continue to release these quad disks at bargain prices.
Well, since this release, I’d heard that Michel Legrand had passed away and positive things about his arrangements etc. In addition there are these great comments/reviews on this site so I decided to order this disk.

I’ve just finished my first listen to this disk and I’m so disappointed, disturbed, and bewildered that I just have to post my opinion here. As I stated earlier, I know, and really like, most of the songs on this disk. I now feel that is probably the biggest issue I have with this release. If I didn’t know these songs, then I wouldn’t be so disturbed by these arrangements. Legrand will start a selection with one style, temple, instrumentation, and then a phrase later, completely change to another style, tempo, and so on. (Example - My Funny Valentine. My wife made the comment that he’s mixing it with Flight Of The Bumblebee!) I don't find this quirky or fun. I think it ruins a beautiful piece of music. He does this throughout the disk, over and over again. It left me believing that poor Michel Legrand must have been suffering from schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder! ...or perhaps I just missed the description that he’s a comedic arranger like Spike Jones, just not as good...

I also had problems with the quad mixing of this disk. The placement of the instruments were often so strange that it made me wonder if this is one of the disks that I hear other quadraphonicquad members suggest the channels are in the wrong order. Perhaps it would sound better, or make better sense, if you swapped the left rear with the right front etc... Personally, I really enjoy playful surround mixies where sounds are panned about the room and I like being “in the mix” vs “outside the mix“ facing the performers. After I started this disk, I had to check my AVR to make sure I hadn’t accidentally left “Audyssey - Dynamic EQ” turned on because the rear speakers sounded louder than the front speakers. I hadn’t...

I’m new to this forum so I just had to stop and search for the review guidelines that I’d seen posted and referenced before by JonUrban. I see I haven’t discussed the Audio Fidelity of this disk. I thought the instruments where recorded just fine. I didn’t notice any sort of un-intended distortion, compression, etc...but honestly, there were plenty of other problems I was having with this recording to distract me from focusing on the audio fidelity.

So following the voting guidelines...
30% Surround Mix: 1.5 there was plenty of sound mixed to the rear speakers. I’m just not sure they were meant for the rear speakers...
30% Audio Fidelity: 3 Fine. As far as I could tell...
30% Content: 1 I really like the songs on this disk, but I can’t stand the arrangement.
10% Over all package: 1.5 Until now, I hadn’t even looked at the liner notes. I see that he offers somewhat of an explanation for his arrangement choices... I just don’t care for them.
So for my vote the tally comes to 6.5 which is honestly more than I would vote for if I were to vote in this poll.

I really think I must be missing something and I don’t understand the overwhelmingly positive reviews for this disk listed above. I would have been so happy to have had these songs performed beautifully, in a great surround mix... I did want to express my opinion of this release as a possible future warning for the next unfortunate soul that is considering buying this disk. Going forward, without exception, I will have to thoroughly research and listen to an entire album before purchasing highly recommended disk again!
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I agree with you Hamilton59. I like and know most of the songs, but really didn't like the arrangements at all. Fast then slow in the same song, didn't care for that at all. I thought i was alone in my opinion, so just sold my copy. I wouldn't try to rate it, because i didn't like it at all.