Tauno Hannikainen / London Symphony Orchestra / Tossy Spivakovsky

Sibelius: Concerto in D minor, Op. 47

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Recording technology at the start of the 21st century is probably the best that can be achieved, but a steady flow of historic audiophile reissues demonstrates that the improvement of sound quality has been a decades-long quest, and the first superb efforts are still worth hearing today. Violinist Tossy Spivakovsky and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tauno Hannikainen, recorded Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor, along with the orchestral tone poem Tapiola, on 35mm three-track magnetic film, and the 1960 recording is so clear and realistic that hearing it is almost as good as attending a concert. Recording with 35mm film had several points in its favor, because it offered three times the surface of standard quarter-inch tape, its thickness permitted the recording of higher sound levels without imprinting other parts of the film, and the sprocket holes along its sides allowed smooth playback with almost no noise or distortion. Because of this innovative method, the sound is quite vivid and realistic and the listener perceives the full color and richness of the orchestra, while Spivakovsky's violin is so direct that it seems to be placed front and center. Apart from some audible hiss during the extremely soft opening, the tone is impressive for its transparency, and the audio is fairly close to what can be found on a modern-day DSD recording or a multichannel hybrid SACD. This album is a boon for audiophiles, because the stereo CD is packaged with a bonus two-sided DVD-10 that allows playback on DVD audio and DVD video players.

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