Eugene Goossens / London Symphony Orchestra

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

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State-of-the-art audio reproduction at the beginning of the 21st century may be the finest ever achieved, but the increasing reissues of historic audiophile recordings provide ample evidence that the search for spectacular sound has been going on for many years. In 1960, Eugene Goossens and the London Symphony Orchestra recorded Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps on 35mm three-track magnetic film, and the quality of the recording is so close-up and realistic that the term "almost palpable" is not an exaggeration. Using 35mm film had several advantages, insofar as 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 method, the sound is so immediate and powerful that the listener viscerally feels the impact of the percussion, and the winds and strings are so vibrant that they seem to have physical dimensions. Aside from the slight bending of the bassoon's opening pitch, which is apparently due to some stretching of the film, the intonation is accurate and the tone is startling in its clarity, and the music is as focused and clean as anything that can be found on a DSD recording or a multichannel hybrid SACD. Because this recording is such a feat of engineering and a feast for the ears, the stereo CD is packaged with a bonus two-sided DVD-10 that allows playback on DVD audio and DVD video players. Highly recommended.

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