Hi-Res Downloads, August 2019

hfnalbumBerliner Philharmoniker/Kirill Petrenko
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6 (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR190261

This Tchaikovsky Pathétique is taken from two Berlin Philharmonie concert performances given (22nd/23rd Mar '17) when Petrenko was 'principal conductor designate'. The recordings were made in 192kHz/24-bit and that resolution is offered at the orchestra's Recordings Shop at €14.90. A lavish illustrated PDF booklet includes Petrenko's own thoughts on performing the music ('a snapshot… today I would do the piece differently') and his claim for the greater validity of older recordings. Well, it's a 'snapshot' that becomes more rewarding with every listen. It sounds like a clean start with this great warhorse; the only surprising outcome is the light-textured March-Scherzo which some might think too undramatic, except at the last stretch. The playing for Petrenko is wonderful, – that clarinet pppp before the development in (i)…! Unmissable. CB

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
Originally recorded at 192kHz, this file from highresaudio is offered at 96kHz (a synchronous downsample). The 48kHz bandwidth is more than sufficient and dynamic range is well used. Some slight spuriae at 28kHz [black spectrum]. PM


Walter Wolfman Washington
My Future Is My Past (88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC; MQA)
www.highresaudio.com; Anti/Epitaph, ADA US 7595-2

You don't get a name much more 'old school muso' than Walter 'Wolfman' Washington, but if you're expecting a rootsy blues set from the name and cover image, you're going to be disappointed. The album opens with the clink of ice in a glass, a long sip and 'That's gonna work', and from there on in we're in late-night world, with a blues and soul-tinged take on the old Sinatra 'Set 'em up, Joe' routine. Perfectly suited for end of the evening listening, it's immaculately recorded with an intimate but rich, lush view of Washington's voice, which is definitely showing the patina of age, and his guitar. Add in guest artists of the calibre of Irma Thomas, who duets on 'Even Now', plus Ivan Neville and Jon Cleary, and we're promised an album that's an easygoing delight from start to finish, and one to which the listener is likely to return on those long, lonely nights. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Tested in 88.2kHz guise this combination of voice, guitar and percussion is recorded up to –2dBFs, and never over the 0dBFs endstops. (Analogue) noise is slightly high and some spuriae present at 40kHz – otherwise it's a good 'un. PM


Reto Bieri & Meta4
Quasi Morendo (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; ECM 4818082

'Morendo' means dying away, and the main work here is Brahms's Clarinet Quintet followed by a piece by Gérard Pesson (Nebenstück) based on the Ballade Op.10:4 for the same forces – the booklet note describes it as suggesting 'a whispering of ghosts'. The programme begins with a ten-minute solo piece by Salvatore Sciarrino, Let Me Die Before I Wake (the name comes from an American book about euthanasia) which requires the clarinettist to play two discrete parts simultaneously. How he manages it, says Bieri, is something of a mystery. The Swiss musician is partnered here by an award-winning young Finnish group and the recordings were made in Zurich's RSI Studio. Even if the outer pieces might not appeal, the main work is marvellously done: well integrated in sound, lean and expressive, and utterly unlike the old Vienna Octet benchmark! CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Tracks 2-6 are genuine 96kHz renderings, demonstrating good use of dynamic range and bandwidth, albeit with some untidiness at ultrasonic frequencies. The opening solo is upsampled from 44.1kHz, however [black spectrum]. PM


Fors Seulement
Vulnus – Trptk Sessions (DXD; DSD64/128/256)
www.nativedsd.com; Trptk TTK0035

Recordings don't get more stripped-back than this set, which uses what the performers describe as 'naked instruments'. That means nothing more than voices – singing, evoking soundscapes and at times crossing the border between speech and music – plus a recorder that's a long way from 'Frère Jacques' at school! Produced in association with Gaudeamus, which showcases 'young music pioneers' and presents the annual music festival of the same name in Utrecht, this album is experimental, at times nothing short of ethereal, spare and rarely an easy listen. But give it full attention and it rewards with the sheer quality of the sound. Every strand is clear, and always with something new to hear as it tackles its basic theme of vulnerability with the closeness and fragility of the scoring and its execution. Definitely odd, this one, but strangely compelling. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Originally recorded in DXD, this eclectic work has been truncated and upsampled to DSD. Despite its simplicity (voice and recorder), harmonics reach out beyond the requantisation noise of DSD64 [blue trace], revealed by DSD128 [black]. PM


Netherlands Po/Marc Albrecht
R Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Burleske (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; DSD64)
www.highresaudio.com; Pentatone PTC5186617

With so many fine current versions of Ein Heldenleben, you might consider this release more for the technically demanding Burleske for piano and orchestra, begun when Strauss was 21 as a Scherzo and then revised for the dedicatee Eugen d'Albert in 1890. The soloist here is the Russian Denis Kozhukhin (2006 Leeds prize-winner) who makes light of its difficulties – you could find him balanced too forward. The booklet note insists that its Brahmsian reflections are parodies, but the young Strauss – offering few hints of his music to come – was perhaps savouring romanticism. Ein Heldenleben is efficiently conducted and has decent solos from the leader Vadim Tsibulevsky yet is hardly distinguished. The recordings were made in the generous acoustics of the Amsterdam NedPhO-Koepel (Netherlands PO home since 2014). CB

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
Although available as a DSD download (and SACD) via pentatonemusic.com, the original recording – illustrated by this 96kHz/24-bit file from highresaudio.com looks to have been LPCM. This is a clean rendering, powerful but unclipped. PM