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Thread: The new Supraphon Smetana Beethoven string quartets..........

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Default The new Supraphon Smetana Beethoven string quartets..........

    We were wondering if it is the same as the Denon DDD set that has been out for awhile.

    It doesn't appear so as this one is AAD stereo.



    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    We were wondering if it is the same as the Denon DDD set that has been out for awhile.

    It doesn't appear so as this one is AAD stereo.



    I think that they're the same recordings. IIRC, early in the digital age, companies made both digital and analogue masters (just as in the late 50's, companies often recorded in both stereo and mono). It looks like Supraphon dug up the analogue masters and are using those for the new issue. Also, companies have always been a bit cavalier about using the DDD designation; the earlier recordings in the Denon set may have been ADD.

    In any event, here's the entry in Discogs for the original Denon set:

    https://www.discogs.com/Beethoven-Sm...lease/13431033

    Unless I read multiple reviews suggesting a vast sonic improvement, I'll give this one a pass - the Denon sounds just fine to my ears.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Just to vaguely narrow things down, the set below of the late Quartets was recorded between 1961 and 1970, so are NOT included in the new set...

    61KOrEzHlBL._AC_.jpg

    The dates on the new set suggest they are the Denon ones. Those were recorded by Supraphon, I believe. And Amazon UK seem to have confirmed these as such in their blurb.

    Supraphon also state, in their Czech blurb, that these are the Nippon/Denon recordings, remastered from the original tapes, first release in the West (because of course no product from Japan has ever ever entered any of our markets.....)
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Aug-05-2020 at 12:37.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I think we're talking about two different cycles here. The Smetanas first had a crack at recording the cycle in the early 60s but those recordings were incomplete as op.18/2-6, op.59/1/2, and op.74 were missing. Those gaps were filled in during the mid 70s (1974-77) with further analogue recordings but I'm not sure if that was ever released as a complete set so this new one might be a collection of those. The later digital Denon set was done in conjunction with Supraphon (Co-production) but not all of it was true DDD. I'll have to look at the sleeve notes (I have the digital booklet only) but I think all that digital set was recorded at the House of Artists, Prague in the early to mid 80s apart from some stuff from the late 70s. I'll look thru my HD later and see what I have as regards these. I think I have the Denon and the incomplete original analogue set but I can't remember. If this is the completed analogue cycle then it's well worth getting as the recordings are very different from the digital cycle.

    Edit: just seen the post above. Looks like they're the digital remasters. Shame.
    Last edited by Merl; Aug-05-2020 at 12:42.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    The plot thickens....seems that the Smetanas were recording for Denon from 1972 onwards.

    "1972: Using lessons learned from the NHK encoder, Denon unveils the first 8-channel PCM encoder, the DN-023R, which uses 47.25 kHz 13-bit PCM resolution and 4-head open reel broadcast video tape recorder.[3] The first recording with this new system is the Smetana Quartet performing Mozart's String Quartets K.458 and K.421, recorded in Tokyo April 24–26 and released that October. At least six other Denon-recorded digital LP records are released in October, including jazz, classical and traditional Japanese music."

    Here's a list of the Smetanas recording output for Beethoven quartets.

    https://lee.classite.com/music/Smeta...-smetanasq.htm
    Last edited by Merl; Aug-05-2020 at 13:00.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    The later digital Denon set was done in conjunction with Supraphon (Co-production) but not all of it was true DDD. I'll have to look at the sleeve notes (I have the digital booklet only) but I think all that digital set was recorded at the House of Artists, Prague in the early to mid 80s apart from some stuff from the late 70s.
    I think that's right. I took a look at the booklet this morning, and I didn't see anything definitive, but it's mostly in Japanese. If I recall correctly, DDD didn't exist before 1979.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Just to vaguely narrow things down, the set below of the late Quartets was recorded between 1961 and 1970, so are NOT included in the new set...

    61KOrEzHlBL._AC_.jpg
    The set above is superb - one of my favorite recordings of the late quartets - and worth seeking out. I find that it has an intensity missing from the later set.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    ^^^ Ditto, Bill. And I'd also point out that the recording quality is very very decent for its time. The Smetana's are one of my go-to sets of the Late Quartets, along with the Talichs, later Veghs, and of course the Busch.

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