96kHz/24-bit FLAC, Pentatone PTC 5186472 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)
Thanks to preparation and de Waart’s keen ear for balance, every detail of Elgar’s orchestration of the A-flat Symphony is heard – possibly with greater definition than you’ll find elsewhere. But it’s all rather literal and comes at the cost of passion, heartache and a sense of momentum. Gerontius has been the almost exclusive recording preserve of English knights – Ashkenazy the exception. The attractions here are fine orchestral playing and choral sound (set back in a spacious Antwerp hall). The tenor Peter Auty excels in Part 2; the mezzo Michelle Breedt is all right but makes you miss Janet Baker; the baritone John Hancock has a massive voice. They are set too forward for my taste. The Elder/Hallé Gerontius, albeit at 44.1kHz/16-bit, brings it all to life, and comes with texts too. CB
Sound Quality: 65%
Hi-Fi News Lab Report
Technically this high-res download is on the money – a genuine 96kHz rendering with low noise and a decent dynamic range. Harmonics of brass instruments reach out beyond 20kHz, making good use of the extended bandwidth. PM
Want the latest issue of Hi-Fi News? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!