Tossy Spivakovsky / Walter Goehr / London Symphony Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

(CD - Classic / Classic Records #2031)

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Audio reproduction at the dawn of the 21st century is most likely the finest possible, but the growing list of excellent historic audiophile reissues offers sufficient proof that the search for vibrant, lifelike sound has been going on for decades, and the early successes are still worth checking out. In 1960, violinist Tossy Spivakovsky and the London Symphony Orchestra, under Walter Goehr, recorded Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major on 35 mm three-track magnetic film, and the recording is so close-up and credibly present that hearing it is virtually as good as being in front row seats. Using 35 mm film had several advantages because it accommodated three times the space of standard quarter-inch recording tape, its thickness allowed the recording of higher sound intensity without "printing through" to other parts of the film, and the sprocket holes along its sides permitted smooth playback with minimal wow or flutter. Because of this innovative recording practice, the sound is so immediate and powerful that the listener feels the full impact and spatial dimensions of the orchestra, and Spivakovsky's violin is so prominently placed that it seems to have an aural spotlight on it. Aside from minor wobbling of pitch at opening, which is due to some stretching of the film's leader, the intonation is accurate, the tone is startling in its clarity, and the music is as focused and clean as anything that can be found on a modern-day DSD recording or a multichannel hybrid SACD. This package is an amazing treat for audiophiles because the stereo CD is supplemented with a bonus two-sided DVD-10 that allows playback on DVD audio and DVD video players. Highly recommended.

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