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Reviews: Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture etc. - Cincinnati Pops/Kunzel

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Reviews: 10

Review by Tom March 29, 2003 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I think highly of Telarc recordings, and Telarc put a lot of effort into this recording. Telarc also promoted and priced this SACD well and it's also available on DVD-A. I'm spliting hairs, but while I agree that its an "above average" recording, I'm still slightly disappointed. I expected a "reference SACD" that could be used to demonstrate SACD on my system. The performance seems a little sterole to me, and sonically it seems a little soft. And the famous cannons still don't sound like real cannons. I never think of playing this SACD to demonstrate the quality of my system.

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Review by David_fram February 5, 2004 (1 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The best SACD I own so far and the first one I ever brought (about 2 1/2 years ago I think), on basis of reviews elsewhere I brought this and took it with me when I went shopping for my SACD player. (I decided on a Sony DVP-NS900V dvd-v & SACD player because it was the best I heard in my available price range at the time, £450, I'd recommend looking into one second hand now if your short on cash as the SACD play back is very good as well as the DVD-V.) The 1812 is one of my fav. pieces and I think this recording does it justice, I recently (Im a 21 year old student) brought a nearly new, good condition copy of Telarc's original LP (just to make it clear this SACD is a totally new recording) and I must say it's impressive but personally I prefer the SACD. The rest of the tracks are very good as well and I still enjoy it now. The difference between SACD and CD is amazing but you all knew that anyway, highly recommend. Another great Telarc relese.

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Review by lenw June 15, 2004 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
"...this blasting, ripping mix of orchestra, cannon shots, chorus, and carillons sounded both well-integrated into the overall orchestral texture and realistic in timbre and dynamics...let me go on record that I was impressed—nearly knocked over—by this SACD recording." -- The Absolute Sound Issue 131 (on SACD version)

This is another wonderful Telarc native DSD/SACD containing excellent resolution and imaging of both instrumental and choral performances. The soundfield is wide and deep and as with most native Telarc DSD recordings the dynamic range is awesome. If your system is capable of producing the wide dynamics the 1812 performance is powerful. My only reservation with the performance is after the first four tracks, I began to find the performance somewhat uninvoling. But this is another good SACD reference disk both sonically and musically.

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Review by tream June 17, 2004 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I believe the sonics are good, the performance is stiff and uninvolving.

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Review by peteyspambucket June 17, 2004 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I think it's very easy to be sonically very impressed with this album. But it sounds very over produced, and rarely natural. The superimposed cannon shots and the synchronized-in chorus (they were not in the same place as the orchestra) do not sound well-integrated and are somewhat annoying disturbances. The orchestral sound is very nice, though. However, the performance is not as good as Kunzel's from the early 80's. There is a lack of precision and the meter seems to change in odd places. They should give us the option of not having the cannon shots, because I find them highly distracting.

It's a fun album but for repeated listening, I would go back to Redbook for Ormandy (with Chorus) or Svetlanov.

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Review by DeSelby February 13, 2005 (6 of 16 found this review helpful)
Sonics:
stereo sonics:on the cover stands a warning: The cannons are recorded at a very high level. That`s right. If you want to listen loud, you sit like the mouse before the snake, hand on the volume control to lower the level rapidly before the cannons explode or else your speakers explode, too. What`s that good for? A joke? It is definitely no fun or relaxed listening.

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Review by Dr. O August 5, 2005 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Do NOT buy this for the 1812! If you are familiar with the famous recording by Antal Dorati with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (recorded in 1958!), then you will be disappointed with this one! Let's hope that the good folks at Mercury will soon grace us (as they did with Stravinsky's Firebird) with a quality transfer of the Dorati recording!

I am rating this CD based on the 1812 - assuming that most will be buying it for this composition.

The tempos at times lack the energy and excitement that Dorati brings to the score. Also - as others have noted - the fact that the cannons have been recorded at such a level that Telarc feels compelled to WARN the buyer of possible damage to the speakers if the dynamic levels are set too high does NOT bode well!

As for the other pieces included in this release, I DO like the Marche Slave. The Cossack Dance is also nicely rendered as are some of the other offerings. It is a pity, however, that a better job was not done on the title composition!

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Review by PureAudio August 23, 2005 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
1812 review only:
What great effort they put into this performance. Lots of passages where recorded at different times and places. Later on they where combined like a jigsaw puzzle. Personaly, I don´t like jigsaw puzzles when they are done, especially from up close. So, was there too much effort? I believe so.
Although I like some elements of the 1812 piece, like the childrens choir, others are disrubting.
The guns, for example, are way out of line. Whilst I rush the volume down, my joy for the music comes down too. I´m not sure if Tchaikovsky wanted it to be this way.

The 1812 SACD-MC mix is nicely done. Good separation and ambiance. A little soft for my taste but acceptable. The guns are technically interesting but no material for a music piece. Overall this disc is missing emotion. My least used SACD.

PRO: technically interesting
CON: lack of emotion, volume correction has to be made manually

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Review by Elliotdurand August 4, 2008 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I have to admit that the reason I bought this SA-CD was that in the movie V For Vendetta the 1812 Overture is played in the beginning and ending of the film. So I decided to buy the CD and when I played it I was expecting more sound and cannons so I went looking for the SA-CD version. The sound was much better, although I have other SA-CDs with highest volume, the channel mix is well done specially with the cannons that explode right into your living room. After playing the entire SA-SD I have come to enjoy this classic masterpiece which is a jewel in my collection.

I highly recommend it, just play it low the first time you listen to it. When the cannons explode, they can damage your speakers!

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Review by iove June 21, 2009 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I enjoyed the overture very much. It competently conveys the history upon which the overture was based. I could imagine the back and forth fighting between the French and the Russian forces, as the various passages get softer then louder. The choir and the church bell was well done. I agree with another reviewer that the canon just doesn't sound right (too short decay and not enough reverb). From a technical standpoint the music was interesting and modern. No distracting tape hiss or compressed dynamic range here.

I did notice a few sharp notes or two on the other track. Kunzel has his admirers and haters. Telarc needs to rethink their use of MC speaker layouts, it is different to say the least. Since I couldn't configure my speaker to their layout, no MC rating is included.

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