Hi-Res Downloads

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 01, 2014
Thanks to preparation and de Waart’s keen ear for balance, every detail of Elgar’s orchestration of the A-flat Symphony is heard – possibly with greater definition than you’ll find elsewhere. But it’s all rather literal and comes at the cost of passion, heartache and a sense of momentum. Gerontius has been the almost exclusive recording preserve of English knights – Ashkenazy the exception. The attractions here are fine orchestral playing and choral sound (set back in a spacious Antwerp hall).
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 01, 2014
The reclusive American pianist Bill Carrothers has recorded several albums for the Munich-based Pirouet label over the years. For Castaways he was accompanied by fellow American bass virtuoso Drew Gress and Belgian drummer Dré Pallemaerts, the set recorded in April ’12 and first released on CD. Now the studio master can be enjoyed in its native 88. 2kHz/24-bit format and it sounds beautifully balanced, the trio laid out in a sound image you can virtually walk into.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
Produced/engineered by Philip Hobbs in Sept ’11, for AAM Records’ first release, this programme takes us from the Sinfonia from Handel’s Saul to Haydn’s F-minor Symphony 49, ‘La Passione’, via works by FX Richter, Stamitz and Mozart: the remarkable K16 – written when he was eight! There’s a related documentary at www. aam. co. uk/birthofthesymphony where Egarr and leader Pavlo Beznosiuk describe the pieces and their salient features (such as the ‘busy’ bowing in the Stamitz opening Presto) intercut with film from concert performance – the two natural horns are quite a sight.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
96kHz/24-bit FLAC, BIS BIS-1978 (supplied by www. eclassical. com) I don’t think these two C-minor concertos have been coupled on records before, in spite of obvious connections. As if to stress these, the Mozart is given a Beethovenian vigour and scale – not inappropriately.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
Still in his 20s, acclaimed pianist Giovanni Guidi is regarded as one of the most original and inventive pianists on the Italian jazz scene. While he accompanied trumpeter Enrico Rava on his ECM albums Tribe and the live On The Dancefloor this is his first album for the label as a band leader, where his creatively daring improvisations are shared with American bassist Thomas Morgan and Portuguese drummer João Lobo. ‘The Forbidden Zone’ demonstrates Guidi’s talent for creating sublimely haunting atmospheres, its meditative melody achingly beautiful in its apparent simplicity. And ‘Just One More Time’, in which the bass and drums are given space to work out, highlights the recording’s splendidly natural feeling of musicians performing in a room.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
Nigerian-German singer-songwriter Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin – stage name Ayo – has enjoyed considerable success in Europe since her 2007 debut album Joyful and its follow-up Gravity At Last, both produced by renowned American sound engineer Jay Newland. This is her fourth studio album, produced and mixed by Newland once again, containing both the original version of her 2013 single ‘Fire’ and its subsequent remix featuring Congolese-French rapper Youssoupha [see Lab Report]. As usual her songs cover a mix of styles from reggae and rap to the country-esque ‘Justice’ and the beautiful ballad ‘Fallin’’ that bears comparison with Joan Armatrading at her most heartfelt. Standout tracks such as ‘Teach Love’ and ‘Complain’ showcase the album’s superior recording quality, with the backing instruments separated across a believable soundstage.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
This collection of chilled-out country/folk songs by the curiously-named June In The Fields duo of composer Jean-Michel Renaud (guitar/vocal) and singer Mélissa Brouillette hails from Canada’s Fidelio Musique audiophile label. Visit a hi-fi show in North America and you might bump into recording engineer René LaFlamme – who runs Fidelio Musique in Montreal – demonstrating his recordings promoted with the tag line: ‘We capture the feeling…’. This is an intimate set, the duo accompanied on tracks such as ‘Andaman Sea’ and ‘Summer Road’ by Sebastien Saliceti on double-bass to flesh out the sparse arrangements. The vocals in particular have been beautifully captured by LaFlamme’s all-tube mic and preamplifier set-up to produce a ‘charming’ sound that’s exceedingly cosy and seductive, if a tad lacking air and space.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
192kHz/24-bit FLAC, CKD 424 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) Why would you wish to forgo orchestral strings and the pairs of oboes and horns of the orginal scores for these three concertos from 1783/4? Mozart himself sanctioned just strings ‘a quattro’ as in this new recording, produced at Potton Hall, Suffolk, in May 2012. The Viennese pianist plays a Steinway D in this, his third programme for Linn Records, and provides the booklet notes; his supporting string players are all equally young.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
In this mid-2012 Brahms recording from the reverberant Lukaskirche, Dresden, Batiashvili is playing the Stradivarius owned by Joachim. She doesn’t play his familiar first-movt cadenza, however, but – like Isabelle Faust on Harmonia Mundi last year – the one by Busoni which has timpanist and orchestral strings joining in. The three Romances Op. 22 are by Schumann’s sister Clara (Joachim was again the dedicatee); these are airy and gracious pieces, and the violinist is nicely partnered by Ott.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
HRA has recently started offering Harmonia Mundi recordings as downloads (at low prices too). This particular programme – a recent classical Album Choice [HFN Jan ’14] – was made in May ’12 at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios only at 44. 1kHz resolution. Does this (24-bit) download offer a sonic gain? I thought there was a discernible difference: switching from an iMac/Audirvana/MF V-Link192/DAC to preamp chain to CD player/preamp brought a thicker, flatter sound.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
96kHz/192kHz/24-bit AIFF/ALAC/FLAC/WAV, Chesky Records (supplied by www. hdtracks. com) David Chesky is committed to fostering music education in young children and composed The Zephrytine as a fantasy ballet. The booklet PDF includes the narrative – in which a young boy meets a magical creature and travels to a utopian world where people are of all colours and ice cream grows on trees – along with vibrant illustrations by artist Ângela Vieira.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
It’s an unlikely pairing in anyone’s book: Billie Joe Armstrong, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of Californian punk band Green Day, teamed up with indie jazz/pop princess Norah Jones. Their Foreverly collaboration is a reinterpretation of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, a 1958 Everly Brothers’ album of traditional country songs. Foreverly was released four weeks before Christmas: I doubt they ever imagined it might serve as something of a valedictory to Phil Everly, who sadly passed away on January 3rd at the age of 74. It’s a charmingly playful recreation of the Everly’s rootsy ballads famously characterised by closely entwined vocal harmonies, Jones’ honeyed and breathy vocal quality marrying surprisingly well with Armstrong’s more aggressive, nasal style.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Stephanie Proot is a young Belgian pianist who trained in Antwerp, Paris and Brussels and attended various masterclasses – Bashkirov, Fleischer, Goode, et al – and has won several competition awards. She makes her debut plunging in at the deep end with Beethoven’s early F major, the two ‘quasi fantasia’ sonatas (the second the ‘Moonlight’) and – a brave try – the late A-flat. Recording in a dry Ghent studio, she plays a Yamaha Grand: it has decent presence but the album is sonically unremarkable. Proot has the necessary technical competence but not as yet the musical phrasing insights shown in the first recordings of Grimaud, Pires or Uchida, and her playing is somewhat mechanical.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Minneapolis-born keyboard player and composer Craig Taborn has worked with numerous musicians throughout his career, experimenting variously in electronic and acoustic settings. Chants sees him in a traditional acoustic jazz trio alongside bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver, the group’s first album release despite having collaborated for many years. It’s a challenging listen, the intense and dynamic improvisational performances demanding attention throughout. The title track, the delightful ‘In Chant’, displays a disciplined minimalism redolent of the experimental Splashgirl trio of Sweden, the composition’s intriguing melody weaving hypnotic patterns that keep you tantalisingly on edge.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
96KHZ/24-BIT ALAC/FLAC/WAV, Polydor Records 531 825-2 (supplied by www. hdtracks. com) Slowhand needs no introduction to rockers above a certain age, since it contains three of Clapton’s best-known signature songs: ‘Lay Down Sally’, ‘Wonderful Tonight’ and his perennial cover of JJ Cale’s ‘Cocaine’. Moreover the album’s other songs are far from just fillers.

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