Wayne Garcia lauded the HDCD iteration of this program in Issue 201 for its musical virtues and its exceptional transparency and realism. Reference Recordings has now released the same program as an SACD—the company’s first. Certainly conductor Michael Stern fully comprehends Britten’s orchestral syntax. If the Four Sea Interludes don’t have quite the majesty, urgency, and existential dread of André Previn’s classic EMI account, Stern’s performance of A Young Person’s Guide is as good as any. Sinfonia da requiem is powerfully dramatic and moving, the pacifist message coming through loud and clear. As spectacular as the HDCD encoding is, the SACD is even better. The soundstage is expansive and seamless, with natural depth and air. Tonally, the recording features exceptionally truthful instrumental signatures: you won’t confuse string basses playing high up on the fingerboard with cellos in their baritonal register. Orchestral weight is impressive, with devastating bass drum/timpani strokes at the outset of the Sinfonia. RR’s 5.1 multichannel delivers a room-filling soundfield—yet in surround there’s somehow less evidence of Keith Johnson’s distinctive genius as a recordist (and maybe a little too much direct sound in the rear speakers.) But be it in stereo or surround, find a way to hear this SACD.