Hi-Res Downloads, January 2022

hfnalbumThe Gesualdo Six
Christmas (192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68299

You don't get much more 'does what it says on the tin' than this set from the all-male vocal group, here in a typically fine Hyperion recording from Cambridge's Trinity College Chapel in January 2019. Directed by Owain Park, the ensemble – two tenors, two countertenors, a baritone and a bass – deliver a sound likely to draw inevitable comparison with The King's Singers, and indeed one track here, 'Gaudete', is in an arrangement by a founder member of that group, Brian Kay. However, the Gesualdos present a varied and very festive programme, ranging from the medieval to more modern settings, and the overall effect of the close harmonies, the precise singing and the gloriously atmospheric recording is entirely magical. If you're only going to buy one Christmas album this year, I suggest you swerve Bublé and give this one a go. If you are tight for time, you can always download the FLAC file direct from the label. AE

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
Another fine Hyperion recording even if the 192kHz sampling is a generous canvas for the harmonic reach of the six performers. Some slight spuriae >50kHz but dynamic range is excellent with only 'Jingle Bells' (!) exceeding –1dBFs. PM


Rembrandt Trio
A Wind Invisible Sweeps Us Through The World (DSD64-512; DXD; 192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.nativedsd.com; Just Listen Records JL024

Recorded by Channel Classics/Native DSD founder Jared Sacks for his Just Listen Records, this set by pianist and composer Rembrandt Frerichs follows the label's pattern of capturing live performances as simply as possible, with no edits or overdubs. Here the trio of more than 15 years – bassist Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer on drums and percussion – is recorded straight to DXD with a minimal mic set-up in Amsterdam's Orgelpark, and the result is a 'live' ambience with a real sense of the musicians being in the room. The trio's musical experiences on the road, from Bach to China and Armenia, are woven into beautifully innovative and involving pieces. The recording gives the players space to perform, and the instruments the ability to breathe and interact with the acoustic – it all sounds pretty glorious. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Here's another fine recording produced by the Native crew using a Horus ADC in DXD [peak, red; RMS, blue]. Dynamic range is excellent with DSD128 [green] peaking lower at –6dBFs. Track 3 looks like an upsample from 48kHz [black]. PM


Stian Carstensen
Musical Sanatorium (44.1kHz/24-bit, WAV)
www.grappa.no/no; Grappa Musikkforlag n/a cat. no.

Well, this one certainly makes a grand entrance, complete with thundering drums and even bagpipes – welcome to the musical world of Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Stian Carstensen. As you might expect from the album title, this set is certainly cerebral, but it's also rooted in traditional European folk-dance music. And with a huge supporting cast of musicians both Nordic and beyond, it's at times cinematic, and then again martial and dramatic, constantly challenging the task of recording with both its complexity and its sheer scale. You'd probably call it easy listening, if only the density of the sound and the number of instruments to follow didn't keep you on your toes, but fortunately the high quality of the production here means they're all kept clear and distinct. It's a wonderful, and only slightly bonkers, oddity. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
This eclectic mix of acoustic and electric instruments has such a massive range that it's inevitably 'truncated' by mere 44.1kHz (CD) sampling, but the recording is free of spuriae and all tracks peak between –0.5dBFs and –0.2dBFs. PM


Benjamin Croft
Far And Distant Things (48kHz/24-bit, WAV)
www.benjamincroftmusic.com; Ubuntu Music UBU0082

There's something very old-fashioned about this set from British composer and keyboardist Benjamin Croft. It brings together jazz, rock and more in a series of original compositions, including the title track, which is 'a metaphysical look at the past and future and the inner journey of the mind', while another 'portrays a mysterious character similar in manner to Mr Hyde but neither good or bad'. It all sounds a bit 'prog meets showtunes' at times, but it's hard to argue with the sound. The album was recorded in five different studios, mixed in a sixth and mastered at a seventh, and yet still makes the most of both Croft's multiple keyboards and his extensive array of guest performers. It sounds crisp and clean, with excellent insight into the often complex mixes, plus fine rhythmic snap and drive, even if the dynamics can appear a little 'sat on' at times. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Recorded at 48kHz, the ~24kHz window is insufficient to capture the harmonic spread of the synthesiser and, in particular, the trumpet. I'd liked to have compared a 96kHz recording where every track is not normalised to 0.0dBFs! PM


Dexter Gordon
Montmartre 1964 (DSD64-512; DXD)

www.nativedsd.com; 2xHD-Storyville 2XHDST1220

Yes, Dexter Gordon, at the height of his powers in the 1960s – but no, not that Montmartre: this four-track set was recorded in Denmark at Copenhagen's Jazzhus Montmartre, the saxophonist's musical 'residence' for many years. Taken from mono recordings made on various nights, this is part of 2xHD's Historic Series, featuring Tete Montoliu on piano, and Scandi-jazz giants bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, at 18 then a relative newcomer, and Alex Riel, aka the Godfather of Danish drummers. Gordon's sax sounds as only he could make it: massive, powerful, confident, at ease and improvising with real flair, while his 'partners in crime' more than match his creativity. Dismiss it as ancient and mono at your peril for in this 2xHD restoration, we have fresh performances, and a sound to enjoy, despite the limitations of the source. AE

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
A vintage analogue transfer to DSD256 using Pyramix/Merging software, the music bandwidth is unaffected by choice of DSD or DXD [black] file format. But with limited (tape) dynamic range, why have 0.0dBFs digital peaks? PM