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Discussion: Liszt: Grandes Etudes pour le Piano - Massimo Gon

Posts: 12
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Post by Geohominid April 6, 2008 (1 of 12)
First, apologies for the long review - there were a lot of points to cover.
This issue contains 2 discs, a hybrid SACD and a DVD Audio. The company's aim is to provide media containing high quality recordings in most of the current HiDef audio formats, for comparison in a domestic environment. Here is the description from the Ludomentis website - the recordings were made by a production outfit called Velut Luna.

"12 Great Piano Studies, extraordinarily played by the gifted Liszt expert Massimo Gon, was recorded by Marco Lincetto and Matteo Costa using a one-set microphone and a one-set microphonic preamplifier with two identical double line-outs. The analog signal was then saved in two identical multistandard recording hard disks (GENEX GX 9048) with two different formats, native DSD (=SACD) and PCM 24bit / 192Khz (= DVD-A).

The analog starting signal was therefore converted into two perfectly identical masters: one with a DSD - SACD standard and the other with a 24bits / 192Khz - DVD-A standard. Velut Luna releases them now in a single elegant cased edition containing a SACD and a DVD-A (both stereo and multichannel), regularly on sale on this website. It is the first time ever that a music publisher offers to those who own either a universal multiformat player or two different music playing systems the chance to enjoy such dissimilar listening concepts at the same time. The DVD-A also includes an extraordinary track recorded in native 24bit / 192 kHz, the legendary format known by almost everybody but whose great potential could be listened only by few lucky ones.

It includes: one DVD Audio and one SACD Hybrid (SACD layer + CD layer), both stereo and multichannel".

I should add that the DVD also contains Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 surround tracks playable on a domestic DVD player (should be connected to the hifi system, of course). It is indeed a great opportunity to convince yourself about these formats.

Having a Marantz DV9500 Universal Player, I am able to quite quickly run these comparisons and had a lot of fun doing so. Using a Marigo Audio Signature 3-D V2 Stabilizer mat (which audibly improves sound, increasing accuracy of spatial location, increasing range of upper partials to give even more realistic instrumental timbres, also focussing deep bass), I could certainly appreciate the quality of the pure DSD recording of the piano with this simple microphone array. However, I couldn't reliably tell the DSD from the lossless DVD-A 96k/24 bit track on blindfold testing by another person. However, I thought I could distinguish the 192K kHz track from the DSD, it having a similar effect (but less marked) to adding the Marigo mat. Probably I wouldn't be able to spot this consistently in a multiple blind test! If you plan using the DVD disc, you will need a TV attached to the player, as there is an on-screen menu for selection of the various formats (and each music track). Also be aware that not all DVD-A players can handle the 192K format.

Reliably making such tests is difficult; there are many variables, few of which are controllable. In the end it comes down to a pair of ears connected to a brain. If anyone else has these discs and come up with their own conclusions, I'd be most interested to hear it.

John

Post by Fugue November 9, 2010 (2 of 12)
Is this recording no longer available? I'd love to hear it.

Post by Zammo November 9, 2010 (3 of 12)
Fugue said:

Is this recording no longer available? I'd love to hear it.

Still available from the ludomentis website. Expensive, but well worth it. This is easily the best digital rendition of piano I have heard so far.

Post by Fugue November 14, 2010 (4 of 12)
Zammo said:

Still available from the ludomentis website. Expensive, but well worth it. This is easily the best digital rendition of piano I have heard so far.

How are the performances? For me, no one touches Lazar Berman for sheer virtuoso abandon! Of course, the sound is execrable.

Post by armenian November 14, 2010 (5 of 12)
Fugue said:

How are the performances? For me, no one touches Lazar Berman for sheer virtuoso abandon! Of course, the sound is execrable.

I just ordered this recording, at almost $50 it better be good.
I do have an earlier Lazar Berman recording of Transcendental Etudes on a Japanese remaster of 1963 recording made in Moscow by Melodya, the sound is awful, almost unplayable.

There are some more recent and far better recordings on Columbia including the Liszt Sonata, on DG there is the Annees, I hope to see some of these remastered on SACD.

Vahe

Post by Zammo November 15, 2010 (6 of 12)
Fugue said:

How are the performances? For me, no one touches Lazar Berman for sheer virtuoso abandon! Of course, the sound is execrable.

This is my only version of Lizst's Grandes Etudes, so afraid I can't compare them to any other recording.

I personally find Gon's playing on this disc technically excellent and engaging. And the sound of the Steinway......sublime!

Post by arnaoutchot November 24, 2010 (7 of 12)
Based on your reviews I ordered this disc from the label. Shipping was very quick, clean and at reasonable cost (inside Europe).

I must agree to Zammo, this is really a wonderful recording in any respect. I happen to be able to compare it to the new Vesselin Stanev recording of the Transcendental Etudes (the final 1851 version), which from a sound perspective pales by comparison. Not that Stanev was badly recorded, the sound is brilliant, but with the usual reverb solo piano recordings usually are done. I much rather prefer the drier acoustic of the Gon recording, which much better brings out the power and the dynamics of the pieces. It has been said before, Gon is playing the 1837 version, which outclasses the 1851 version by complexity and dynamics. Finally, I never had a recording with so many different tone options. I counted eight !!! (CD, SACD Stereo, SACD MCh, DVD-V Stereo, Dolby Digital MCh, dts MCh, DVD-Audio Stereo 192kHz, MCh 96kHz).

Post by Fugue November 24, 2010 (8 of 12)
I just ordered it. Shipping was only 6 Euros to the US.

Post by Fugue December 10, 2010 (9 of 12)
It arrived today, and I must say that I'm a bit disappointed. First, he doesn't begin to match Lazar Berman's demonic intensity; however, Gon is playing a different version, so absolute comparisons are tricky. He plays beautifully, but still, a little more daredevil risk-taking would be welcome.

The sound is not as good as I had hoped for, either. It's rather dry, and it seems that 5 of the 7 mics are all in the same plane (based on the photos). The rear channel mics should be in the rear of the hall to pick up the acoustics of the room, not the direct sound of the piano. Plus, I think they could ditch the mics that are right on top of the piano's soundboard! In most aspects, it is light years better than Berman's, but it could be better yet.

Is it worth nearly $50 US? I don't think so.

Post by Zammo December 10, 2010 (10 of 12)
Sorry to hear you're not enthused about this SACD Fugue.

I only listen in two channel, and find the sonics oustanding.

Just goes to show that no two systems (and no two ears!) are the same. I guess what you hear as dry is neutral and accurate in my system. Components (and our own aural priorities) have such a huge impact on our final perceptions of any disc.

But, Vive la difference and better luck with your next purchase!

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