Saturday, September 14, 2013

ASD 3255 & Nonesuch H-71071 Haydn and Boccherini Cello Concertos

ASD 3255 Haydn: Cello Concertos in D & C
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Iona Brown, Rostropovitch

Nonesuch H-71071 Haydn: Cello Concerto in D, Boccherini: Cello Concerto in B Flat
Camerata Academia of the Salzburg Mozarteum, Paumgartner, Navarra

Performance: 4.5/5

Sound: 4.5/5 (ASD)  5/5 (Nonesuch)

$10 Black & White Postage Stamp (Ring), $5 Glossy Nonesuch

Listen to Boccherini (Euro LP):
Part 1     Part 2

I was greatly impressed by the Rostropovich Haydn Cello Concerto in D and would rate it a 5 for performance.  The Concerto in C was not as good when compared to some live performances of Rostropovich on youtube (the Haydn D on youtube was no where near like the one on the ASD).  On the Nonesuch, Navarra is fine with the Haydn D, but I much prefer the Rostropovich.  Navarra's Boccherini is another matter as is the playing of the Camerata Academia of the Salzburg Mozarteum, Bernhard Paumgartner conducting; a marvelous performance.

The ASD barely makes it to 4.5 with very pleasing, layered, if somewhat antiseptic, cello sound. The midrange starved Ring pressing, does have decent noise floor performance. The somewhat astringent sound in the strings works well with this music. Herr Salvatore has the ASD in his Honorable Mentions.

Nonesuch offers "Significant recordings at sensible prices without compromising quality. Each NONESUCH record enjoys the most advanced engineering techniques, a pure virgin vinyl surface, unusual covers of artistic merit and comprehensive notes. A new concept in fine recordings for the producers of Elektra Records." I am not sure about all that, but I will say the covers for the first 125 releases do have a glossy plastic front cover, but I am not so sure about the artistic merit which at least lends a consistency to the covers with the nice Nonesuch 'n'. The recording quality has always been excellent on Nonesuch with 11 on the Salvatore Supreme Recordings lists and at least five appearing on the Harry Pearson Super Disc List including one early glossy, Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos (K. 365) Nonesuch H-71028.  With the about the first 60 Nonesuch's feature a virgin vinyl surface that is quieter than any golden age vinyl (truly a miracle, unlike the RCA Miracle Surface.)

The Nonesuch used here was a REVIEW COPY from WCLV in Cleveland that was probably played a handful of times.  It is not ultra quiet so if acquiring a copy of this LP be sure to get one in top condition.

The first 125 Nonesuch releases are all tube affairs with often stellar sound that exceeds the lone Super Disc resident, H-71028. The record under review is a bit better sonically than H-71028. So what is this sound? The silkiest string tone on vinyl, couple with a wonderful treble transparency unmatched by any other label. Depth and bass are pleasing. Overall a very pleasing, utterly sublime sound that transports you back in time to the sound of chamber music in the eighteenth century with an extremely jaunty feel to the music. The Farlex Free Dictionary best sums up jaunty as "Having a buoyant or self-confident air; brisk....  or Crisp and dapper in appearance." With early Nonesuch often we have delightfully jaunty string tone and sound.

These early glossy Nonesuch are all pressed by American Decca with typeset lettering in the dead wax (the lead out of the vinyl by the label).  The easiest way to first distinguish these pressings is by the glossy cover. The reissues generally will not have the glossy covers, but always check for the typeset lettering.  Also for the first 60 be sure that the back cover has the above blurb that mentions virgin vinyl or the LP won't be virgin vinyl.

The recording in question was licensed from Eurodsic Musikproduktion, Germany.  All of the glossy Nonesuch's were licensed from Europe and typically from French companies, so this is a rarity from Germany and may be the only Eurodisc Nonesuch.

This record demonstrates some of the flaws in the Nonesuch sound.  With the Haydn D, the American Decca pressing's extra zip in the treble takes things a bit far with the cello almost sounding like a viola. Undoubtedly much of this is also from the tape.  With this piece the sound is fine enough. Fortunately, the Boccherini on side B is beautifully balanced with near perfect sound.  One of the better Nonesuch's despite some noise issues with the vinyl.  A strong 5 for sound on this side.

The Boccherini LP links above are to a European pressing and give a pretty good idea as to the sound of the Nonesuch, but sound quite a bit drier and grainier to these ears without the American Decca mastering.

Here is Rostropovich in a much better performance of the Haydn C:

1 comment:

  1. I've long been curious about sound quality of Nonesuch classical recordings, and this review might make me give them a try. Any other recommendations in the Nonesuch catalog?