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Positive Feedback ISSUE 43
may/june 2009

Two from Melba
by Robert H. Levi


Sublime Mozart from Melba, Hybrid MR301122

This is gorgeous music! Works for Clarinet by Mozart are legendary and this concerto and quintet are his best. I have never heard of the Queensland Orchestra but they play elegantly and emotionally. The Granger Quartet plus Paul Dean at the clarinet is charming and exquisite…and oh so delicate. This hybrid is one hour of pure listening pleasure.

The Clarinet Concerto in A, K622 is a joy and chock full of melodies. The Clarinet Quintet in A, K581 is more sophisticated and way ahead of its time. Both were recorded in 2008 with the latest and greatest SACD gear and it shows. I hear graceful, elegant, and smooth sound. Very nice. While atmospheric and lifelike, in two channel mode instruments in both selections are somewhat vague. They do have spot-on timbres so the problem is likely in the mix down. I did not audition the 5.1 playback.


Performance A

Sonics B+


Benjamin Britten Folksong Arrangements, Steve Davislim, Tenor, Simone Young, Piano. Melba MR301120 Hybrid

Written for the legendary Sir Peter Pears, Davislim accomplishes the task of beautiful singing and sensitive expression needed for these songs to come alive. His voice is elegant and well mannered. I don’t think these songs could be better served. Young’s piano is particularly lovely and precise. The songs are fun and lyrical with meaningful themes. I particularly thought The Salley Gardens and Greensleeves were musical standouts.  

The recording is very alive and sophisticated. It is very close to a reference disk with maybe a small amount of excess ambience and a slightly distant perspective marring an almost perfect effort. I loved the smooth, rich sound and lifelike textures. Sounds like great mid hall Decca from 1968 without the smear and surface noise. What fun!

Way to go Melba! By the way, I only auditioned the two channel playback.


Performance A

Sonics A-