The seeds were planted in the early 1970s when Deutsche Grammophon realised what amazing results could be achieved by recording on multi-channel tapes, using either four or eight channels. Yet, due to a few restrictions, they never fully blossomed. Flaws in the playback equipment meant that music connoisseurs were prevented from enjoying these recordings in the way that artists, producers, engineers and other professionals intended, even though recording technology was already way ahead of its time.
Now — over a quarter of a century later — thanks to the arrival of the multi-channel Super Audio CD (SACD), there is finally a system available which permits these precious recordings to be released in the quality they deserved back then.
This release is an outstanding version of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha. Not only because this recording — which was orchestrated by the American composer and jazz musician, Gunther Schuller, in 1975 for the Houston Grand Opera — probably comes the closest to Joplin’s original intention, but also because the recording’s crisp and bright sound can now be cherished on 2 SACD(s), complete with a full libretto in English.
Joplin’s uniquely beautiful and dearly inspiring score is a buoyant blend of ragtime, vaudeville and grand opera, with lots of dancing, a big portion for the chorus, and arias and ensembles of stunning beauty. The composition has an inherently American tone and it was definitely created by a true entertainer. It is “a landmark set”, as Christopher Cook put it in a review in BBC Music Magazine (August 2005).