Hi-Res Downloads, February 2020

hfnalbumRachael Price And Vilray
Rachael & Vilray (88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC; MQA)*
www.highresaudio.com; Nonsuch Records n/a cat no.

The arrival of this album immediately caught my attention, for Australian-born Rachael Price is the 'can do no wrong' voice of Lake Street Dive, one of those bands tending to appear a lot in my listening sessions. If their beautifully crafted recordings sound good on a system, you can be sure it's doing pretty well! This is Price's debut album with songwriter/guitarist Vilray, whom she met back in 2003, and with whom she has been performing since 2015 – and it's been well worth waiting for. With all but two of the tracks original Vilray compositions, the set plays to the not inconsiderable strengths of Price's voice. It's an intimate, thoughtful album, immaculately produced with fabulous focus by Dan Knobler, who has previously worked with Lake Street Dive. As even the unfamiliar tracks already sound like jazz standards, what more could we possibly ask? Fabulous, and heartily recommended. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Recorded/mixed in different studios, there are two file types here: trks 3, 4, 9 and 12 may be 48kHz upsamples [black trace], the others are commensurate with 88.2kHz. Max. recording level is ~0dBFs, and note spurious 28.8kHz tone. PM


VPO/Leonard Bernstein
Beethoven: String Quartet Op.131 (arr. Strings)
(192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; DG 483 7766

As you only get the cover here, a few facts first. Bernstein conducts a transcription for full strings prepared by his former mentor and NYPO predecessor, Dimitri Mitropoulos. It's reportedly edited from autumn 1977 performances given in the Vienna Konzerthaus and at the Salzburg Festival, and dedicated to the conductor's wife – Felicia Montealegre had died that June. (Incidentally, Op.131 was the piece played in the Christopher Walken film A Late Quartet.) Audible here and there (eg, trk4 at 59s/1m23s), Bernstein achieves some inspired playing, and captures the gravity of the music. But full strings will be all too remote from the interplay of just four players on a stage for some tastes – the final section is just oversized, whereas the Presto [trk 5] works effectively. Anyway it sounds better than the LP did! CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Information about the remastering of this legacy recording is scant, although the noise-shaping [see Graph] suggests time as DSD128 followed by downsampling to 192kHz LPCM. Note spurious tones at 15.6kHz (–62dBFs); 48kHz (–98dBFs). PM


Trio Atanassov
Chic À La Française (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Paraty PTY179185

Graduates of the Paris National Conservatoire these three musicans formed their piano trio in 2007 – going on to win various international competitions. This is their second recording (their Hänssler debut won the Diapson d'Or award) and it comprises the Piano Trios by Ravel and Debussy and a 20m set of Variations by the composer Philippe Hersant. It's all related to church bells and quotes, eg, Mussorgsky and Bizet – though I didn't spot these. Hersant is interviewed in the PDF. The piano is the tolling bell (boosted to full stage-width in fortes), with melodic snatches from the cellist, while the violin mostly has to play feverish high register rhythmic patterns. Balance is excellent in the two earlier works (the Debussy written when he was 18), and what's striking here is the unanimity shown by these fine players. They've really grasped these pieces. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded at the Studio de la Philharmonie de Paris, this is a genuine 96kHz rendering where the full ~45kHz bandwidth is, on occasion, occupied by the extended harmonics of that 'feverish' violin. Piano occupies just 12kHz. PM


Lang Lang
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op.2:3; Op.57; Op31:2 – first movt only (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Sony 19075951552

This is a reissue of live performances of the two sonatas performed at the Vienna Musikverein in 2010 – the 'Appassionata' and the early one in C major so often played by Michelangeli. This was Lang Lang's debut after he had signed to Sony. But now, curiously, Sony has added a 2010 New York studio recording of just the opening Largo–Allegro of the 'Tempest' Sonata (Sony's PDF wrongly says the finale). It's the most interesting track here – better sound too – with the pedalled recitatives imaginatively done. Enjoy the two complete sonatas (with applause) for Lang Lang's immaculate technique. He's more personal in the early work, while the 'Appassionata' is too focused on the moment rather than with the kind of overview Kempff, say, brought to it. The coda sounds as if Lang Lang is intent on setting a speed record! CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
The limited 44.1kHz sample rate is just sufficient to capture a solo piano. The spurious tone at 20.9kHz (–72dBFs) is on all the Vienna, Golden Hall recordings but absent on trk 8, the 'Tempest', captured at New York City's Avatar Studios. PM


Everyday Life (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC; MQA)*
www.highresaudio.com; Parlophone 0190295337834

The latest set from the band decried by many for being too successful takes a new turn by adding elements of darkness, anger and musical experimentation. So, while parts of it are unmistakable anthemic and crowd-pleasing, there's definitely an edge here. Opening with an orchestral interlude, the album takes a turn with 'Trouble In Town', which breaks into dialogue from a police radio and some language way from the usual safe image of the band, a theme to which Chris Martin returns in the vehement – but undeniably catchy – 'Guns'. That track in particular shows a new stripped-down Coldplay, but then this album also takes in world music influences, gospel and more. The production job is clearly slick [but see PM's Lab Notes], with powerful bass and bags of detail, so even if Coldplay isn't coming to a city near you any time soon, there's much to enjoy here. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
The 96kHz LED will light on your USB DAC, but most of the tracks here are 96kHz upsamples of 48kHz mixes. There's other content at 44.1kHz (trks 4, 9 and 13; black) and even some legacy 32kHz material (trks 2, 8, 10 and 15; green). PM