Hi-Res Downloads

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2016
Kaufmann and Puccini – how could anyone resist, when his vocal artistry is so complete? He floats a line with infinite care then expands dynamics to meet every theatrical demand. Terrific warm backing from Pappano too. And the production adds variety by changing vocal perspectives for soloists and chorus – occasionally, though, I found Kaufmann almost too forward and spread. Every Puccini opera is represented with these arias except, of course, the all-female Suor Angelica.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
Calling your début duo album Juvenile might seem like asking for critical trouble, but in the case of this lovely inventive set by pianist Böhm and guitarist Scholly it seems more self-deprecating, such maturity do both performers display. With instruments stripped down and exposed, and no rhythm section for support, they nevertheless weave intriguing sonic pictures. Not only does this set offer demonstration-quality sound throughout, it also captivates with the endlessly inventive handling of the eight original tracks and one cover – a beautifullyre-sketched ‘Georgia On My Mind’ – and the way the two seamlessly swap the roles of soloist and accompanist within tracks, showing masterful interplay and understanding. On the surface it may seem like ‘audiophile jazz’, but give it the attention it deserves and this unusual album is likely to become a firm favourite.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
Recorded in 1973 for BASF, and for a long time one of those unavailable and therefore sought-after albums, this studio set may not see Pass at his flamboyant best, but it comes up fresh in this DSD release. It’s a rather laid-back set by the guitarist, backed by bass player Eberhard Weber and Kenny Clare on drums, meaning this collection, mainly of standards, is in pretty safe hands. However, there are flashes of the famous Pass style, notably in the improvised ‘Joe’s Blues’ and a samba’d-up take on the perennial ‘Ode To Billy Joe’, and while the version of ‘Stompin’ At The Savoy’ here may not be the stompiest you’ll ever hear, there’s still much to enjoy. The balance is much as you’d expect, with Pass’s guitar prominent, but there’s also fine extension and definition in the bass and drums, making this a cleanly recorded, if not actually challenging, set.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
48kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC/ALAC, naimcd198 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) Those most familiar with Sabina Sciubba’s breathy vocals on the well-known Meet Me In London set with Antonio Forcione [HFN Apr ’12] are in for a surprise: on this solo album the voice is harder-edged, and the whole concept reminiscent of everyone from Nico to Marianne Faithfull. From the off, this is an album designed to grab the attention with the impact of its sound, which is hard-hitting in a lo-fi way, with everything from thin, vintage-sounding vocals to hard-working percussion, all of which can sound catchy at times, and just plain annoying at others.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
48kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC/ALAC*, naimcd215 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) Any compilation album from a label’s roster of artists is always going to be as much a grab-bag as an introduction to what’s on offer, and that’s certainly true of this package – despite the title, very far from the Naim Label’s first such selection. As editor PM notes in his brief lab report below, that also makes for a variety of sources for the recordings, from CD to true 48kHz/24-bit, but more striking is the jolts of musical style, as Neil Cowley’s cinematic, percussive piano trio jazz gives way to Sabina’s Left Bank oddness, and then the soulful sound of label stalwarts Phantom Limb or the calculated grunge of Huey And The New Yorkers.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
As the highly variable sound quality makes clear, this album is a sort of travelogue/travel blog by Polish saxophonist Piotrowski. The essence of the album is inspired by the various musicians Piotrowski has met on his travels while building his One World Orchestra project and ‘leaving their messages on tape’. Trouble is, the whole ‘world music’ thing has rather been done to a turn by now, and what were once startling sounds from unfamiliar parts of the world are now well-known. Frankly, I’m not sure the whole new age ‘sax and ethnic’ concept sounds anything more than rather tired these days.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Do you need to understand what’s being sung in order to enjoy a vocal performance? Clearly not, if the evidence of this set by German-Iranian vocalist Cymin Samawatie and her quartet is to be believed: listening to Phoenix I may have been missing some of the subtler nuances of the lyrics – well, all of them, actually – but treating the voice as an instrument proves quite rewarding when it’s as affecting as Samawatie’s. That’s particularly so in the first of two tracks from which the album takes its name, where she duets with Martin Stegner’s viola in especially striking manner. In fact, throughout this set the combination of Samawatie’s vocals and the mixture of jazz shapings and unfamiliar rhythms is highly involving, helped by the way this recording makes the slightest touch of stick on cymbal crystal clear and reveals instruments in sharp relief. AE Sound Quality: 83% Hi-Fi News Lab Report This 96kHz recording is accompanied by a significant level of spuriae (30-38kHz) also seen on ECM’s Jacob Young Forever Young [reviewed here].
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Now here’s a download to divide the jazz purists. On this album Sheppard’s Trio Libero set-up of bassist Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford is joined by Elvind Aarest on ‘guitar and electronics’, suffusing much of the music here with underlying drones and washes of sound, in a kind of ‘jazz meets ambient’ mixture. It’s a tribute to both the (typically ECM) quality of the recording and the ability of all the musicians that this doesn’t just become a mush of sound, although those more used to hearing their traditional jazz combos crisp and clean may find the amalgam somewhat less than satisfying. That’s especially so on a track like ‘Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir’, where the electronic layers often threaten to rise up and overwhelm the acoustic instruments, but to these ears the combination is both intriguing and highly effective.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Many young soloists have made their debut recordings in one or other of these works. Arabella Steinbacher – whom we associate more with 20th century concertos – says she’s never previously felt the need to record either until she began working with Charles Dutoit (there’s a 2009 Tchaikovsky video from Tokyo on YouTube). The problem is that she tends to slow the music to show off her beautifully cultivated sounds with the 1716 Stradivarius, although Dutoit could hardly be more accommodating. So I much prefer his 1983 Decca CD coupling with Kyung-Wha Chung, whose playing is utterly selfless (and the Mendelssohn finale has an elfin lightness).
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Hey, guess what? This sounds just as you’d expect from James Taylor – warm, charming, folksy in instrumentation, vocals and lyrics, and above all wistfully, reassuringly – well, James Taylor. As he sings on ‘You And I Again’, ‘I can’t escape this feeling/That we’ve been this way together, you and I’, anyone expecting something revolutionary will be sorely disappointed. But then this mix of fine performances and closely-observed recordings is the perfect milieu for what is both Taylor’s first new work for well over a decade and an unashamedly nostalgic look back over his life. Yes, he still has the ability to challenge, as he does on ‘Far Afghanistan’, but even this is hardly breaking new ground.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Unusually, perhaps even a ‘first’, DG offers this at 192kHz/24-bit resolution. Kremer’s new programme – two really lightweight pieces and more substantial fare by Philip Glass and Giya Kancheli – was last month’s Album Choice CD [HFN Oct ’15] and, we thought, worth revisiting at this higher resolution. The eight-movement Glass Violin Concerto No 2 is a kind of response to Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ (although ‘Movement III’ is more suggestive of the Brahms). There’s some astonishingly wonderful music in it and the higher-resolution option certainly makes the reiterations of, for example, ‘Song No 1’ seem more purposeful.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2015
96kHz/24-bit FLAC, BIS BIS-2100 (supplied by www. eclassical. com) As a violinist on the Denon label, Jean-Jacques Kantorow’s CDs were invariably well received in HFN/RR. Then he took up conducting and has amassed a considerable discography with his Finnish orchestra.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2015
Knopfler’s eighth solo album mixes rock, Celtic and country influences, and more than a measure of introspection, providing a ‘spot the reference’ game for the casual observer and fans alike. There’s more than a hint of Local Hero here and there – well, quite a lot actually – and his homage to Beryl Bainbridge is pure ‘Sultans Of Swing’, unlikely though that sounds. Inspired by his time touring with Bob Dylan – notably in ‘Silver Eagle’ – this is Knopfler as storyteller, from Bainbridge to poet Basil Bunting, whom he met when he was a copy boy on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. Trouble is, Knopfler’s writing, scoring, and performance are so distinctive that it can sound like there’s not much new here, even though the sound quality of the stripped-down recording is gorgeous.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2015
This new Schola Cantorum Basiliensis production offers eight of the Venetian composer Antonio Caldara’s early trio sonatas – four each from his Op. 1 and Op. 2 – together with a final chaconne (probably an homage to Corelli). These works appeared in 1693 and 1699; thereafter Caldara became best known for his vocal compositions.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2015
If perchance you woke up this morning and thought to yourself ‘Y’know what? The one thing really missing from my music collection is a jazz bass solo cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”’, then here’s just the album for you. If not, then you’ll be pleased to know that track is one of very few misfires on this set by bassman Ben Williams – well, along with the over-rapped and insubstantial ‘Toy Soldiers’ immediately after it. Otherwise this is a tightly-recorded, fine-sounding package. It’s a bass-player’s album, which means the instrument is prominent in the clean, crisp mix, but fortunately Williams is a very fine, very expressive player, as is the band with which he’s surrounded himself here, whether on the harder-hitting cuts or the more lyrical tracks.

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