, September 2010
I came to this disc without any preconceptions or expectations. I heard some Panufnik live at the Festival Hall many years ago, and then forgot all about it. I had never hear an Ondine disc, and—to my shame—I didn’t even know where Tampere was, let alone that it had a symphony orchestra.
A few bars into the opening Heroic Overture, however, it became extravagantly clear that this was one exceptional sounding recording. Dynamic, natural, timbrally accurate, exceptionally transparent and—above all—graced by extremely focussed and dimensionally accurate staging. The top registers and transient response of the (ample) percussion are particularly noteworthy. This is probably the first all-digital recording I have yet heard which manages proper cymbals. Most SACDs manifest these as—variously—thin; hollow, gritty (low bit-rates) or rolled off. Analogue actually does better here.
Only later did I learn that this disc was recorded in DXD (32 bit floating point and 352.8kHz, 4X the data throughput of DSD) before down-quantising to a DSD bit-stream. Incidentally, this is nowehere evidenced on the disc or notes. Phew, if this is what a full orchestra sounds like in DXD, I’m just gagging for more...
And the music? Suffice it to say, if you’re into 20th century classical, and like composers such as Ligeti, Messiaen, Part or Lutoslawski, then give Panufnik a listen: what have you got to lose?
This disc encompasses a broad spectrum of his work. The very early Heroic Overture and religiously -inspired Sinfonia Sacra are most musically satisfying to my ears, whilst the later Sinfonia da Sfere seems rather cerebral and distant by comparison.
The playing is—for the most part—excellent throughout...The performances are probably 4 star; however, since the recording is 6 star, I have evened things out…In conclusion—fine 20th century symphonies, well played and superlatively recorded. Strongly recommended.