Mobile Fidelity has done a great job with the SACD transfer of the analog original. It's how all SACDs should be done.
Upon first hearing it in May, 2005, I had this impression:
But the original recording was made in such a cavernous hall, with microphones so distant from the instruments, that the recording is awash in echo. The echo softens all the attacks, and individual instrumental solos are too faint, so much of the impact of the score is lost. If psychoacoustically, you like the feeling of an immense concert hall, this recording is superlative. Being a trombonist, I prefer to sit in the orchestra itself to listen. The early London FFRR recordings had the philosophy of close miking of all the instruments, making you feel in the middle of the orchestra. Later, there seemed to be a fashion of more distant miking to give a big concert hall sound. This recording epitomizes that approach. I was going to buy the St. Louis Symphony series from Mobile Fidelity, but now I wonder whether all the recordings are like this.
With repeated hearings, I have grown to appreciate the recording in its totality. I realize that my first negative impression of the album came from listening to the opening track, "Mars", where I kept wishing the tritone chordal attacks were more raw and overwhelming, which the hall echo limited. But in toto, first of all, the timbre of the instruments is captured spectacularly. The "Jupiter" track with its dazzling trumpets and sparkling triangles has become my favorite track for demoing the virtues of SACD to others. In this particular track, the attacks are large enough to penetrate the echo, and in so doing, generate a feeling of immense spaciousness, which I dare say, is quite appropriate to a tone poem about our neighbors in space.
The performance itself is gorgeous, luscious, and splendid, and I can see why MoFi chose to reissue it. Upon reading one of the other reviews, I've discovered that MoFi discontinued this SACD. What a shame! Look at the used prices. MoFi could surely make some money if they reissued it.