Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Elgar Cello Concerto, Sea Pictures - Jacqueline Du Pre / Dame Janet Baker

Elgar: Cello Concerto; Sea Pictures

I have had this CD for almost 20 years, and without a doubt, this would be my single "desert island disc". Now, I am sure desert islands have neither electricity, nor hifi equipment, but let us not get distracted.

This is probably Jacqueline Du Pre's most well known recording, and its commercial popularity probably means that many of you readers would already have a copy.

Despite its less than stellar recording, the sure emotive power of the performance has always captivated me, and after the first few bars, you ceased to care about the recording quality (which is actually decent but not excellent).

HD Tacks is now offering a 2012 remastered version in high resolution. After having been burnt by some of their high resolution offerings that sounded far worse than my red book CD versions, I had two minds about buying this.

Eventually curiosity took the better of me, and I made the plunge. Thankfully, the remastered version is wonderful ! Apart from the improved clarity and dynamics, the noise floor is so much lower. From a soundstaging perspective, it is also a lot closer and intimate. Du Pre's cello occupies a far bigger acoustic space, compared to the distant pin point imaging of the original recording.

Mercury Living Presence - Boxed Set

I got a mail from my lovely receptionist girls on a package that has just arrived for me. Talk about fast. Nine days - from the time of placing my order to delivery from the UK to Singapore.

Despite already owning some of the recordings in this set, the pricing at GBP 66 (inclusive of delivery to Singapore) from Amazon UK, was simply too good to resist. Just a handful of the recordings in this set would already justify the asking price. Considering that many have been out of print, and were being sold for ransom-like figures, this is a god send to classical music lovers.

50 CDs are included in the set, including a bonus CD which includes an interview with Wilma Cozart Fine, the vice president of Mercury responsible for production of the series in the past.

Whether you are just starting out in classical music, or you are serious enthusiast, this set is simply a must have.

You can have a look at the complete list of recordings (and even sample some of the tracks) at