Hi guys. This is the best Sleeping beauty of all I have ever heard. The "all" contains Pletnev, Mogrelia, Previn, Rozhdestvensky and Dorati. If you are interested in why, please read the reviews at the end.
Here is a special torrent. This version of Sleeping beauty was downloaded previously in mp3 128 format. But that rip is not so ideal. The tracks are separate and if you hear carefully, there are always some annoying "bi" "ba" from some electric impulse between tracks. Listen to that, just like eating fish with all its bones. So I decided to do something to improve it.
First I transformed the files into wav. Then I used an audio processing software to remove the pauses and the "biba". After all these, I converted them losslessly into the finale format wavepack, with cue embedded. So if your player shows the whole file as one big audio file without any chapters, try foorbar2000. It can read the embedded cue, besides foobar2000 is portable.
Why I burdened myself with all this? Because this version really takes the prize. Sleeping beauty doesn't have much luck like the other two ballets. First, not so many conductors take it serious. Some of them have recorded it incompletely. Here miss one No. there cut the repeat passage. There are only three complete sets so far as I know: Pletnev, Mogrelia and Gergiev. Let's take a look first at the incomplete ones.
Previn's was supported by London Sym. Well played, but not alway. The overture and march, the finale are all great pieces. But some Nos. in the ballet body were just ruined by his careless reading, too hasty, as if he just wanted to finish the job and go home. EMI's recording is not that excellent, the focus is not well set.
Rozhdestvensky has at least two. One of them I have donwloaded here at demonoid, it was a BBC concert. According to the booklet, the concert was delayed because of a traffic jam of a member in the orchestra. And this delay also leads to some cuts in the score. Also from the booklet, Rozhdestvensky had one studio recording, highly acclaimed, but long gone out of print. Rozhdestvensky, in my opinion, represents the rough russian conducting style. The musical lines are thick. Impressive are his brasswind, unbelievablly vivid. But I can't expect that a live recording at the age can have a sound quality, that lives up to today's standard. The sound was narrow. The music instruments were distinguishable, but not well defined some times.
Dorati's Philips set was OK. The rose adagio was too unromantic. The Amstedam orchestra is most of the time, in my opinion, a bit too highly estimated. Here they didn't show something that really deserves their ranking: "Second in Europe".
The Naxos set, conducted by Mogrelia, is smooth. He really took his time. At some places he seemed losing control over the orchestra, and those places just sound like anything else but sleeping beauty. Naxos recording has still some room for improve. The focus changed sometimes, this was reflected by the relative positions of the instruments. After all, the sound quality is OK, not excellent.
Pletnev's version earned a rossette in the Penguin (Penguin seems to give all the recordings containing the following names three stars or above: Pletnev, Janet Baker, Reiner, Babirolli and Dutoit). But to me, this set is far away from Gergiev's. First, its tempo is a bit strange, fast at the place I thought should be slow, and opposite. Can't really enjoy this for long. Second, the orchestra is rather undistinguished, there isn't character in it. The whole reading, is boring, there is no emphasis, no sign of romance, no trace of the joy the latter part should have. Very disappointed by him.
At last, I've come to this Gergiev's set. It is almost physically unaccessable. It is expensive in Amazon, can't take it at a reasonal price. Besides, this set was vanished, I think, in the whole Germany. And I have never seen it uploaded the week before last week. And, to my disappointment, it was in mp3 128 format and poorly ripped. Now I have done my job and finally have the mood, sitting down and enjoy it. After five hearings, I found this set is definitive the best. Gergiev's reading just fits every bit I have desired. Russian blood flows through the whole ballet, smooth and gentel. Look at No.18, the music develops first from the solo cello, then it merges into the texture of the whole orchestra, seamless. Other passages are also well interpreted. The brass has done the job, gives the contrast and bright color to the musical body. My island disc of sleeping beauty.
At the end, I hope for a really lossless rip from any of you guys from all my heart. But before that comes true, let's enjoy this wonderful gem!!