Hi-Res Downloads, December 2019

hfnalbumBavarian Rso/Mariss Jansons
Mahler Symphony No 1 (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; BR Klassik 900179

Our first complete Mahler Symphony cycles came from Haitink [Philips] and Bernstein [CBS] with DG following with a Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra set under Rafael Kubelík. But Audite then produced his (preferable) live recordings from the Munich Herkulessaal – the venue here too. Jansons' performance dates back to March 2007 but the sound is rich and vividly detailed. A stumbling block for Klemperer, who declined to conduct the work, the finale here is the most persuasive I have ever heard (there's no following applause included). It crowns a performance with impeccable playing, and Jansons gets a lot of true pianissimi, while the horn section has a wonderful glow. He brings tenderness and dignity to the Jewish celebration in (iii) – thankfully, a single characterful double-bass opens the 'Frère Jacques' theme in this funeral march, not the entire section which you get with some versions. CB

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
Aside from some minor spuriae ~20kHz [black trace, Graph] this is a clean file that makes excellent use of the available dynamic range (v. quiet backgrounds). Pity about the limited ~22kHz bandwidth – surely this was recorded at 96kHz? PM


Helsinki Baroque Orchestra /Aapo Hakkinen
Beethoven: Egmont incidental music (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Ondine ODE13312

The complete incidental music to Goethe's 1787 play only appeared here at around the time of the Beethoven bicentenary year (before that the Klemperer/EMI 'Choral' set had three excerpts): a routine Karajan version in DG's 'Music for the Stage' set and the magnificent 1969 VPO/Szell Decca LP with spoken texts by Klaus-Jurgen Wussow. The expressive speaker here is Robert Hunger-Bühler and all his words and those for the two songs for soprano are in the PDF booklet for this edited-from-live recording. It's the first version with period instruments – fortepiano continuo too, eg, in track 8. It's beautifully conceived and also well engineered with exemplary balances between narrator, 'Clärchen' (Elisabeth Breuer) and orchestra all set at a natural distance from the listener. CB

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
No details are given about the equipment used during this live recording, but the slightly elevated noise points to analogue at some point in the chain. The narrator, orchestral dynamics and ambience are all captured without (digital) clipping. PM


Joshua Redman
Still Dreaming (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; MQA)
www.highresaudio.com; Nonsuch 7559-79330-8

This superb sounding jazz quartet album, in which saxophonist Redman is joined by Ron Miles on cornet, Scott Colley on bass and Brian Blade on drums, is in some part an exploration of the era of his father. Redman Sr – Dewey – was a longtime collaborator of Ornette Coleman, and the band configuration reflects this, originally with Ed Blackwell on drums and bassist Charlie Haden. It's all part of Redman Jr's ongoing appreciation of his father's influence on his work: in the intro to the album he says 'I used to say I didn't know my father', before going on to explain his growing realisation. Whatever the roots, what we have here is one of those bands, quartz-locked but with the space to improvise, that grabs the attention and holds it with the quality of the playing, helped hugely by a recording that gives the listener the opportunity to appreciate the sheer musicianship. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded/mixed at Sear Sound, NY, there's analogue here, low-pass filtered at ~38kHz and digitised at 96kHz. Some spuriae at 25kHz/28kHz and occasional clipped samples [trk 2, Graph] but it is otherwise clean. Also offered in MQA. PM


Dresdner Philharmonie/Michael Sanderling
Shostakovich Symphony No 15 (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Sony Classical G010004080249Y

Following in his father's footsteps, Michael Sanderling has completed a cycle of all 15 Shostakovich Symphonies: an 11CD Sony set or as separate issues (all available from highresaudio too but without PDF booklets). Kurt Sanderling's 1978 Berlin Classics CD of No 15 is still available, its Adagio-Largo (ii) 89s shorter than here, the finale 46s longer. Yet it's (iv) that impresses most, closing with those chimes and ticking percussion that as surely signal a farewell to life as any late Mahler work. No 15 puzzled listeners back in 1972 when premiered by the composer's son, with those quotes from William Tell and Wagner's Tristan and Ring cycle. Sony puts you ten rows back from front desks in this rich and detailed production, while Sanderling's deeply expressive interpretation perfectly complements Haitink's more dispassionate accounts. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Sony has made excellent use of the 24-bit range on offer here from quiet sequences below –70dBFs up to the Adagio-Largo (ii) with peaks of –1dBFs [see Graph]. Finally, the 96kHz sample rate captures the full harmonic range of the orchestra. PM


Lenny Kravitz
Raise Vibration (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC; MQA)
www.highresaudio.com; BMG Rights Management 538397342

None of that 'difficult 11th album' syndrome here: by now Kravitz is confident when it comes to both shaping a song and packaging a set, meaning that Raise Vibration flits between styles while at the same time showcasing the performer's strengths. There's a bit of 'spot the influence' going on here – the funk of 'Who Really Are The Monsters' channels Prince, but is overlaid with slogans and calls to arms such as 'start communicating'. But while that means much of what's here might seem rather familiar, Kravitz just about manages to stamp his own personality on the set, rather than it being just a collection of near-impersonations. It can be poignant – 'Johnny Cash', strangely, is a track about his mother – but also exuberant, and overall this is a fine-sounding, upbeat set well worthy of anyone's time. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Whether this is a bit-padded 16-bit file or a true 24-bit rendering is tricky to determine, but the CD/44.1kHz sample rate is certain. Recorded up to the endstops, but with few clipped samples, this is loud! Also offered in MQA. PM