French Violin Sonatas - Debussy, Et Al / Midori, Mcdonald
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Midori's dazzling recital of French violin sonatas on SACD trumps its CD companion (type Q5668 in Search Reviews) by the usual small margin in sound quality, but the improvements, here and elsewhere, justify the new medium's purpose, especially in music as subtly textured as these works. Already fine-sounding on CD, the SACD reveals more of the nuances in Midori's and accompanist Robert McDonald's exquisitely sensitive readings.
For one, the SACD not only opens the sound considerably, but the instruments themselves acquire a new sense of full-bodied bloom and separation, thanks to the increase in dynamic range. Along these lines, listeners may find the SACD also eliminates a slight "tinny" sound in the upper registers of the piano and violin, a possible result of the higher frequency-range limits of SACD and only apparent in direct comparison with the CD. Likewise, the weightiness of the piano's lower registers is restored, such that the concluding pedal tones in the Poulenc sound commanding and jarring. On SACD, the Debussy, already a primer of dynamic and rhythmic contrast in its CD incarnation, draws the listener in even further with a transparency and clarity that is rather astonishing, even on low-end systems.
A packaging ambiguity is the only real flaw of this new version. The jewel case itself is wrapped in an external casing with the generic "Stereo/Multichannel" bending across the front cover. A sticker declaring this disc to be "Stereo" proves to represent the truth; it is stereo only (and SACD-only, as the back of the disc will further confirm), so make sure you examine the disc from all sides to make sure you are compatible and not disappointed. [3/29/2003]
--Michael Liebowitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: SK89699
Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Francis Poulenc
Performer: Midori, Robert McDonald