CES 2005: Mobile Fidelity Announces SACDs by St. Louis Symphony and Bela Fleck for 2005

CES 2005: Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs held court at two locations during the Consumer Electronics Show. Company representatives including Vice President John Wood, Chief Engineer Shawn Britton and Marketing Director Colie Brice were available at parent company Music Direct’s Music Booth at the Alexis Park Music Room as well as a Sound Room at The Show next door at the San Remo.

During CES, Mobile Fidelity announced that it plans to start off the new year with three new Super Audio CD releases. The upcoming SACDs will include two new additions to their “Surround Series” of Surround Sound Classical Music Recordings by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra as well as a new Hybrid Stereo SACD by Bela Fleck in their “Discovery Series” of lower priced Stereo SACDs.

Another Addition to the Surround Series
Starting off the 2005 SACD releases from Mobile Fidelity will be a recording of Smetana’s Ma Vlast by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Susskind. Mobile Fidelity describes the release by saying that “rarely has a composition portrayed such beauty, adventure, peril, and glory as the St. Louis Symphony’s interpretation of Bedrich Smetana’s Ma Vlast. Captured on Ultradisc UHR Surround SACD with GAIN 2 technology, every movement conjures up panoramic and vivid images of a classic hero’s journey.”

As with the earlier SACDs in this series, the new release will be taken from original Vox/Turnabout 4 Channel Surround Sound analog master tapes produced by Joana Nickrenz and Marc Aubort and engineered by Elite Recordings. The tapes are mastered for SACD release by Paul Stubblebine and are Edited and Quality Checked by the company’s Chief Engineer Shawn Britton. To date, the Surround Series has brought us a number of excellent performances from the Vox/Turnabout recordings of the 1970’s era, heard for the first time in full 4 Channel Discrete Surround Sound. Here are the releases in the Surround Series to date, including the release slated for later in the month:

  • Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Minnesota Orchestra – Ravel: Bolero & Orchestral Works (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 4002)
  • Leonard Slatkin, St. Louis Symphony – Prokofiev: Ivan the Terrible (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 4003)
  • Leonard Slatkin, St. Louis Symphony – Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on Bald Mountain, Khovanshchina (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 4004)
  • Walter Susskind, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra – Holst: The Planets (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 4005)
  • Walter Susskind, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra – Smetana: Ma Vlast (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 4006)[Coming on January 25th]Bela Fleck Coming to SACD Discovery Series in February
    High Fidelity Review readers will recall that during 2004, Mobile Fidelity launched a new line of Hybrid Stereo SACDs that were dubbed the Discovery Series. These SACD releases were taken from older pop and folks recordings and were list priced at $19.98. The Discovery Series gave SACD fans access to classic albums with the company’s proprietary Gain System mastering – at a lower price than what we’ve seen to date from Mobile Fidelity.

    The first two albums in this series featured an instrumental album by Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, David Grisman, Bela Fleck and Tony Rice entitled Gator Strut (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 7001) that was licensed from Rounder Records. This was followed with a Hybrid Stereo SACD of one of rocker Ryan Adams’ early albums entitled Heartbreaker (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 7002) that was licensed from Bloodshot Records.

    Both albums were well received by SACD fans for their fine sonics and musical performances. The Marshall album is along the lines of the Joe Weed SACD entitled The Vultures (Top Music International SACD-1028) with many of the same musicians as Gator Strut while the Ryan Adams Stereo SACD features excellent fidelity and will be a must have for SACD fans who enjoy Adams’ music.

    New to this SACD series in 2005 will be a Hybrid Stereo SACD of banjo player Bela Fleck’s album entitled Drive. The album features Fleck along with a host of guest artists including Jerry Douglas, Mark O’ Connor, Tony Rice, Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan. Mobile Fidelity says that Drive is a “masterpiece that features tight ensemble playing and astounding improvisation from the world’s finest acoustic masters”. It should be another winner and is due out on SACD on February 22, 2005.

  • Gator Strut – Mike Marshall with Darol Anger, David Grisman, Bela Fleck and Tony Rice (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 7001)
  • Heartbreaker – Ryan Adams (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 7002)
  • Drive – Bela Fleck (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 7003)[Coming on February 22nd]Gershwin Collection Surround Sound SACD in March
    At CES, the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs folks revealed that their third release of the year will be a collection of Gershwin performances by Leonard Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony. These will be taken from the Vox/Turnabout 4 channel catalog and will be another in the label’s Surround Sound Series.

    I’m told that there is a lot of fine Gershwin material available for release in SACD Surround Sound from the orchestra. So Mobile Fidelity is holding open the possibility of a Volume 2 of Gershwin performances if the first Surround Sound SACD, due out in March, does well in the market. A very interesting prospect indeed!

  • Leonard Slatkin, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra – Gershwin: An American In Paris (Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 4007)[Coming on March 22nd]