“I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.”
- One of Saint-Saens’ greatest masterpieces returns to Better Records with true Demo Disc sound
- Huge, lively, spacious, dynamic – both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it
- What this copy did better than practically any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical 1973 EMI sound could be
- “The whole work is a magnificent and fantastical symphonic machine that’s an apotheosis of the orchestral technology of the late 19th century.”
The legendary Stuart Eltham engineered this recording for EMI in 1973. You may know his work better from a longtime audiophile TAS List favorite, Massenet’s Le Cid (1971), again with Fremaux conducting the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
I had the opportunity to hear the work performed by a university orchestra (California Lutheran Symphony) years back and enjoyed it immensely. I was sitting about ten feet from the woodwind section; it’s a glorious sound from that close, I can tell you that.
Of course no pair of stereo speakers can hope to compete with a full scale pipe organ. The sound was, in a word, immense.
I’d like to think that this record affords the listener something close to that sound, but who am I kidding? No recording can even come close to capturing the sound of a live orchestra. The sound of this very record may be immersive and completely involving, allowing you to forget you’re even listening to a record at all, but the live event is an experience on another level. For rock and jazz, not so much. For orchestral music there is simply no comparison.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Rich, rosiny, Tubey Magical strings. The copies that did the best in our shootout always had the best string tone, the most richness and the highest resolution.
Deep bass for the organ is key. Many copies were a bit bass-shy and that cost them a lot of points.
Transparency, depth and space are essential to the recreation of that “you are there” feeling, and the best copies had plenty of all three.