24-bit 96-kHz remastering of classical

I've now tried four different 24-bit 96-kHz recent CD remasterings of classical music "golden oldies" on two different labels (Decca and RCA), all recordings known for excellent sound in their original form (1950s to early 1960s). To my ears none of them sound right in these recent, supposedly SOTA remasterings: they sound overprocessed, bright, thin, lacking in body/presence. I'm wondering if others into classical CDs have had similar experiences or have some comments on this. Thanks.
I agree. I've never heard a reprocessing that sounds better than the original. One of the reasons those old 50's and 60's recordings (not all) sounded so great was because of the minimal processing (I love those direct to disc recordings), simple mic'ing, engineers respectful of sound over engineering. And in the end, no matter how many bits and kHz the reprocessing uses, a CD is still limited to 16 bits and 44kHz when it's delivered.

I've heard reprocessing using SACD and it's quite nice. I believe the original intent of Sony (was it?) was that SACD was to preserve detetiorating tapes. Even if it never makes it commercially, SACD is a good thing.

Imagine you took a picture of, say, the Mona Lisa with a 10 bazllion pixel camera and reproduced it on a printer with 12 gazillion dots per inch. Betcha could tell the difference in a nanosecond.


Dave, exactly which remasterings on CD are you discussing?
The four 24-bit 96-kHz remastered CDs I've tried, and been disappointed in, are:
(1) RCA: Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Piano Concerto, Variations on "I Go Rhythm"; Earl Wild, Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops. Recorded 1959-1961. Remastering released 2001.
(2) Decca: Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1; Clifford Curzon, George Szell, London SO. Recorded 1962 (by the great Kenneth Wilkinson). Remastering released 1999.
(3) Decca: Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 3 "Scotch" and Midsummer Night's Dream excerpts; Peter Maag, London SO. Recorded 1960 (Symphony, engineered by Wilkinson) and 1957. Remastering released 2000.
(4) Decca: Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde and 3 Ruckert Lieder; Kathleen Ferrier, Bruno Walter, Vienna Philharmonic. Recorded 1952. Remastering released 2000.

The RCA Gershwin is the worst-sounding one of the lot, but I'm not pleased with the sound of any of them. I buy a lot of classical CDs and I know from experience that remastering of analog "golden oldies" can be a hell of a lot better than this. RCA, for example, showed what it could do in some of the magnificent remasterings in their complete Rubinstein edition: some of these (e.g., the Brahms Piano Trios with Rubinstein, Szeryng, and Fournier) sound better than they ever did in their original release on LP. So what's going on here?
Remastering is not panacea. Like every other technique and process, it can be done well and it can be done badly. If you compare that Gershwin/Fiedler remastered CD with the LS SACD released earlier this year, you will hear a world of difference and realize that the latter IS an improvement on earlier releases, especially in 3 channels!

TexasDave, you should give a try to the hybrid CD/SACD of Antonin's Dvorak's Cello Concerto, performed by Piatigorsky on the cello and conducted by Charles Munch on RCA. Even on the CD track there is NOTHING light nor artificial about it. To me it is a true jaw dropper. . . Furthermore, Piatigorsky's interpretation is yet unsurpassed.
I have the Piatigorsky Dvorak Cello Concerto in the RCA Living Stereo remastering of 1993 (with the Walton Cello Concerto). The sound is just fine, and I agree that it's an outstanding recording. Of course your SACD version may be even better. I'll bet the RCA Living Stereo remastering of the Gershwin/Earl Wild/Arthur Fiedler recording is substantially better than the 24/96 later version (and, again, the SACD version may be even better).
I have just discovered the RCA Living Stereo remasters. Currently listening to them on Redbook, as my SACD player is 60 days away as we speak But even with CD equipment, I was stunned by the relative grace and unagedness of the Piatigorsky recording. The only place where I found even a trace of datedness is in some creschendo passages in the first movement, where I can detect some boxiness in the sound, typical of recordings of that time. You may want to purchase the new version of this recording, so you can let us know if the CD track is the same, or this is a newer PCM remaster.