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Positive Feedback ISSUE 66
march/april 2013


Elgar and Vaughan Williams: Reference Recordings RR-129, HDCD
by Robert H. Levi

Keith Johnson gets better with age and experience. I can hardly wait to hear what he will be doing at age 100. Meanwhile, his award-winning recording brilliance sparkles with musicality and verisimilitude as he records the best classical orchestral Red Book CD I have yet heard. This is no boast, just the facts as I hear them.

The Elgar and Vaughan Williams pieces bring tears to your eyes as you immerse yourself in the language of music. "The Complete Wasps" is rarely recorded and is presented here as deliciously as it gets. "Fantasia on Greensleeves" is beautifully rendered and conducted with elegant flair. "The Enigma Variations" is both delicately flowing and dramatic, with mountains of textural nuance. What joy is this!

The disk is conducted by Michael Stern with original style and power. Who knew he could conduct like this? He is both amazing and inspired! His use of drama, interspersed with elegant waves of lyricism, have to be heard to be believed.

I saved the best for last. Using my E.A.R. Acute III by Tim de Paravicini, the disk blooms and churns and bubbles with realism I have rarely heard from the CD medium. Not once do the violins become harsh. There was no edginess or crispness, ever. Realism and neutrality abound.

Oh, if only all CDs sounded like this one!

With wall-to-wall orchestral might, and depth without limit, imaging was perfection and focused supremely. Wait until you hear the smoothness of the sound. "You are there!" wonderful music in your listening room as only Reference Recordings can do. Overall, the closest yet to Dynavector/Koetsu sound in Red Book digital form!

Wait until you hear the tight, powerful, ultra-detailed, musical bass recorded here. I am talking stomach flapping, punching and potent bass you expect to hear on SACD, not CD. You get the entire package and performance on this disk.

A must-own reference disk.. .Performance A, Sound A+.