April 2007

Hérold, arr. Lanchbery - La Fille Mal Gardée - Excerpts
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, John Lanchbery, cond.
First Impression Music LIM XR24 013
Format: CD
Originally released: 1962
Reissue released: 2006
Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2
 

Grieg - Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16; Schumann - Piano Concerto in A Minor
Radu Lupu, piano; London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn, cond.
First Impression Music LIM XR24 012
Format: CD
Originally released: 1973
Reissue released: 2006

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

by Bill Brooks
billb@soundstage.com

Decca, First Impression Music, and JVC XRCD are all labels familiar to the hardcore audiophile. The first two are record companies and the last is actually a process of mastering and manufacturing. All three have been involved in some of the finest recordings available today. Put the three together and you have discs that will be sitting on your frequently-played shelf for some time.

La Fille Mal Gardée is an ever-evolving ballet that originally dates back to 1789. The original score was concocted of melodies and pop songs of the time, including a dose of Donizetti and Bellini. It has been revised and rewritten three times between 1828 and 1937. The result is a brilliant piece of music that is accessible, fun, and full of surprises. The recording captures the intimate detail of each instrument, as in the first movement where the listener can pinpoint each birdcall provided by the first-rate woodwind section. This is demo-quality material, from the impact of the bass drum deep into the soundstage, to the delicate plucking of the violin strings.

The piano concertos performed by Radu Lupu should be familiar to those enamored with the genre. The LP version is a longtime audiophile favorite. Radu Lupu is a Romanian pianist with that rare balance of virtuosity and artistic touch. These concertos are perhaps two of his very best performances. The recording shows the piano in proper size and position, and it is captured with almost startling clarity against an orchestra that can sound slightly distant at times. Some may find fault in this, but the technique has the advantage of both showcasing the piano and helping the listener to better visualize the venue. It works.

These are reissues done right. Thanks, FIM.


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