Hi-Res Downloads, July 2023

hfnalbumChiyan Wong, LSO/Koncz
Swing! Concertos by Ravel and Tsfasman (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.prestomusic.com; Platoon PLAT18171

If you like Shostakovich's jazz suites, you'll love this. The Ukrainian pianist and composer Alexander Tsfasman was a jazz pioneer in Soviet Russia who formed his own, State-sponsored band. 'Snowflakes' was his hit number: yearning, smoochy, equal parts Count Basie and Tchaikovsky. It became the slow movement for his Jazz Suite, a short concerto in all but name, and the Hong-Kong-born Chiyan Wong has the measure of it as delightfully as Pletnev, live in Verbier (DG), enhanced by a far superior recording at LSO St Luke's. The coupling makes perfect sense of the cool, cloudy ambience of the Ravel Concerto. The LSO have known how to swing since the days of Previn, while Wong himself is ferociously articulate in the funky rhythms of (i) and (iii), and shapes (ii) with the close rubato control required of any fine Chopin and Ravel interpreter. PQ

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
A true 96kHz file with excellent dynamic range, recorded by Classic Sound, all the tracks are normalised to –0.2dBFs except for Ravel's (ii) Adagio assai which is downshifted by –5dBFs. Percussion and strings fill the bandwidth to ~40kHz. PM


Luciana Elizondo
Cantos De Amor Y De Ausencia (48kHz/24-bit; DSD64)
theaudiophilesociety.com; Audiophile Society AS09

No-one could ever accuse David Chesky's The Audiophile Society label of being anything less than adventurous, as this set by singer/viola da gamba player Luciana Elizondo illustrates. The title translates as 'Songs Of Love And Absence', and the set harks back to the Renaissance tradition of 'singing to the viol'. The sound quality is spectacular, capturing the performers in an Italian church the label describes as 'the most acoustically perfect'. No arguments with that: the recorded sound captures the plaintive voice and instrument, with the addition of guitar, extra vocals and percussion on some tracks, placing them in a superbly spacious soundstage that's about as close as you could get to experiencing the performances live. Completely unforced, and totally captivating, this is a charming release on every level, from technical to emotional. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
'Recorded in Mega-Dimensional Sound', the source for this file looks to be DSD64 [black trace]. This peaks some 3-4dB lower than the downsampled 48kHz WAV version [red/blue] while still offering a wider dynamic range and bandwidth. PM


Stephen Hough
Mompou: Música Callada (96-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68362

Written between 1959 and 1967, Catalan composer Federico Mompou's Música Callada, his last great work, was put together in four books over that period, and runs to a hefty 70 minutes of solo piano music. Some will hear echoes of Satie in these 28 miniatures, each of which seems to be presented and examined before just vanishing into the ether – if you're looking for great themes developing here, you'll do so in vain. Instead, it's best to relax and let the slight strangeness and total beauty of these pieces simply wash over you, in the typically studious, intelligent playing of acclaimed pianist Stephen Hough. The works are treated to an exceptionally delicate and spacious Hyperion recording, the familiar acoustic of St Silas the Martyr allowing each note to hang in space for inspection and reflection, in a deliciously contemplative manner. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
The ~90kHz bandwidth of this 192kHz/24-bit recording is arguably excessive for the ~18kHz range of the Yamaha CFX piano, but dynamic range is good and peaks rarely exceed –2dBFs. Note (innocuous) tones at 55kHz/72kHz. PM


Vein Trio
Our Roots (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Vein Trio n/a cat no.

This latest release from Basel-based Vein Trio – twins Michael and Florian Arbenz on piano and drums respectively, and bassist Thomas Lähns – sees the three going back to fundamentals, as the title suggests. The outfit takes its name from the idea of music flowing through its veins, and here we have a range of classical influences from the obvious 'This is Beat-O-VEIN' to takes on a Mozart aria, Stravinsky's Firebird, and Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. All three are classically-trained, and also work in the 'respectable music' field. This shows throughout in the stunning musicianship – not least in the bass-playing, with extensive use of the bow, as well as the way the piano takes the themes in unexpected directions, and the drums provide rock-solid drive. Back all this up with a wide-open recording giving all three plenty of space, and you have a winner on your hands. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Despite higher-than-average levels of analogue noise [black trace], dynamic range remains good while digital peaks vary from –2.3dBFs to –0.35dBFs, track to track. Bandwidth (percussion) is limited by the 48kHz sample rate. PM


Carmen Gomes, Inc.
Little Blue (96kHz-192kHz/24-bit WAV; DSD64-512)
www.nativedsd.com; Sound Liaison SL1014A

Check out the Native DSD web-shop and you'll find Carmen Gomes is remarkably prolific – this is her seventh album there, recorded for the minimalist Sound Liaison label, which is all about getting a sound as close to live as possible. Recorded in 96kHz/24-bit, this set sees Gomes and her ensemble tackling 'songs of my youth that made a lingering impression and original compositions, some written a long time ago; some only recently', all handled in her characteristic stripped-back style. From Nina Simone and Billie Holiday favourites to Simply Red's 'Holding Back The Years' and Pretenders hit 'Brass In Pocket', Gomes brings these songs up fresh with her characterful voice, ably assisted by her excellent band and the immediacy of Sound Liaison's recorded sound. The result is an album that's both captivating and immensely enjoyable. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Although this album is offered at up to 192kHz/24-bit and DSD512, the original recording format is the 96kHz tested here. Bandwith is further limited by a LP filter at ~20kHz. Peaks reach –0.3dBFs and dynamic range is 'average'. PM