Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364 (XRCD review)

Also, Duo for Violin and Viola in G, K. 423.  Igor Oistrakh, violin; David Oistrakh, viola; Kiril Kondrashin, Moscow Philharmonic.  FIM XR24 069.

The first problem I had after hearing this 24-bit XRCD remaster is one that every person should have: Namely, I didn't want to listen to anything else. It's like watching a high-definition broadcast on TV and having to go back to standard definition. You get spoiled.

The second problem was more serious, although it should not put everyone off too much. While the sound of the disc is superlative and Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante is terrific music, I could never get too involved with David and Igor Oistrakh's playing of it. The father and son are absolutely precise, refined, letter-perfect, I'm sure, but I found their performance almost too perfect, too mechanically perfect. With the exception of the lovely, if melancholy, second movement, the Oistrakhs perform the Sinfonia as though it were a museum piece under glass. The brief Duo for Violin and Viola comes off better, but it is undoubtedly for the big orchestral concerto that buyers will come to this audiophile disc.

However, the sound, as I say, is so good maybe listeners won't even notice that the performance is slightly lacking in warmth and spontaneity. The people at First Impression Music transferred the sonics from the original 1963 Decca master tape, engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson, in the meticulous (and costly) XRCD process, producing a disc of stunning clarity and presence. Just understand that because of the high price of this issue, you had better already be familiar with the recording. Unless, of course, you're simply an audiophile, in which case the sound is all that will matter, and the disc is a no-brainer.

JJP

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

Readers with impolite, discourteous, bitchy, whining, complaining, nasty, mean-spirited, unhelpful letters may send them to pucciojj@recycle.bin.

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa