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07/29/2003 9:30p ET
Brett Rudolph - Reviewer

A reviewer could get hooked on a masterful series of wonderfully produced recordings by a specific record company. In this case, the reviewer is none other then I and the record label is Fidelis, co-produced by Joseph Paterson and Paul Weitzel. Their expertise and talents make this series something extraordinarily difficult to stop reviewing until all the titles I have currently are exhausted.

This album, The Seasons by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and arranged for Piano Trio by Alexander Gedike, is another fine example of just how good a recording can sound. The attention given at the time of recording to detail and sound quality as well as the artists and repertoire make it even more special. In fact, each time I listened to the recording in order to write this review another element of the production became evident, something I don’t normally experience.

With all that in mind, this recording has been released on a hybrid stereo SACD. What that really means is that virtually everyone should have the ability to enjoy its musical content. The red-book layer, CD version, allows backwards compatibility to most standard disc players that will handle the CD format. In addition a second layer is also included which contains the stereo SACD version that features improved fidelity and resolution.

The CD version is excellent. Especially to those of us who enjoy CDs in general but find that they to sound somewhat flat. Mostly I have found that they tend to lack the ability to reproduce the depth needed to create a landscape and produce a wonderful two-dimensional picture instead. However, this disc’s ability to accurately reproduce the depth needed to produce a nearly three dimensional experience from the recorded music is somewhat startling.

One of the greatest examples of this nearly holographic imaging can be found by listening to track five, “May – White Nights.” The instrumental placement is captured so well by the recording that as each instrument produces a sound, it can be heard blending with the other instruments as well as the recording location’s ambience. In fact, by closing your eyes, you can picture yourself in St. Mark’s Church listening to the live performance itself.

The question of course then becomes, if the CD version is so exemplary then what is really left that can make the album even better when switching to the SACD version. The answer is quite simple, everything. Its not that the instruments sound different, or that the details of the recording have changed, they have just become even more apparent and intense. Imagine looking at a beautiful countryside shrouded in the early morning mist. It is a beautiful sight, but come back when the mist has burned off and the sight is even more amazing, the same hold true with this recording.

Once again, starting with track five, which I mentioned earlier, the imaging is nearly holographic. However, unlike the CD version the SACD contains so much more detail that you are far more likely to become immersed in the musical presentation. The various instrumental voices are far more complex and involving and their interactions more intricate. It makes the experience of listening to the track even more intense and fulfilling.

A second track that although beautiful on the CD layer and becomes infinitely more spectacular is number ten, “October – Autumn Song.” The stringed instruments are far more fully captured as their extremely complex sounds issue forth. The balance between treble, midrange and bass is so perfect that when combined with the the piano’s music, they produce an intoxicating melody that is sure to delight even the most die hard critic of digital media.

The real question in your mind should not be if you should purchase this disc, but which discs in this series you should purchase. If it were me personally I think I would need to own them as they are different enough that you could listen to one after the other and never grow tired. In fact, that is what I will likely do for some time to come.


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212 Frech
FC1810

The Seasons

Tchaikovsky Chamber Music Society

SACD

Released: 2002
Origination Year: 2001
Time: 42:31
Tracks:12
Produced by: Joseph Paterson & Paul Weitzel
Engineered by: Paul Weitzel
Mastered by: Paul Weitzel
Style: Studio
Format: SACD Hybrid
Enhancement: DSD
Label: Fidelis Records


Tchaikovsky Chamber Music Society:

Atis Bankas:
Violin

Teymour Sadykhov:
Cello

Galina Zisk:
Piano

Track List

  1. January - By the Hearth
  2. February - Carnival Time
  3. March - Song of the Lark
  4. April - Snowdrop
  5. May - White Nights
  6. June - Barcarolle
  7. July - Reaper's Song
  8. August - Harvest
  9. September - The Hunt
  10. October - Autumn Song
  11. November - In The Troika
  12. December - Christmas