Hi-Res Downloads, June 2019

hfnalbumORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Martin Gellner
The World of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration (48kHz/24-bit)
www.qobuz.com; Sony Classical 190758990521

Typical, isn't it? You wait ages for a live celebration of a film composer's work, and then two come along at once. And like the LA Phil/Dudamel John Williams retrospective [HFN May'19], this double live album from a stillongoing big-venue tour, 'curated' by Zimmer himself, is a real fan-pleaser. If anything, the sound here, recorded in the Vienna Konzerthaus with a massive choir and guest musicians, is even bigger than the Williams set, opening with a thundering suite from The Dark Knight. The richness and scale of the sound is maintained, even in the flamenco-oriented Mission Impossible 2 where the solo guitar is underpinned by massive orchestral forces. The Lion King, Gladiator, Pirates..., Inception – the gang's all here, and I can't help feeling we're going to be hearing a lot of this set at hi-fi demonstrations in the very near future. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
I sincerely hope there is a 96kHz+ master of this fabulous recording in Sony's vault because the bandwidth afforded by a 48kHz/24-bit file is insufficient. A few digital clips were detected ('Time' from Inception) but otherwise... enjoy! PM


Frederik Munk Larsen
Floating Islands (DSD64/DSD128)
www.nativedsd.com; OUR Recordings 6.220672

The music of Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen, who died in 2012, may be unfamiliar, but this set gives a compelling overview of his work for guitar, which is as evocative as it is spare. While the music is unashamedly modernist, the pieces in this collection show a definite sense of natural lyricism, and complete originality: as a composer, Borup-Jørgensen was completely self-taught, and this comes over in his works. Larsen, head of classical guitar teaching at Denmark's Royal Academy, brings to these technically demanding works a feeling of mastery and understanding. He is aided by Prebe Iwan's 352.8kHz/32-bit DXD recording [see Lab Report], combining close focus on the instrument with a fine sense of the atmosphere of the venue, the Church of the Royal Castle in Fredensborg, giving the performance real presence and impact. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
The range of Larsen's guitar is more than adequately captured by the DSD64 rendering (decimated and symmetrically upsampled from 352.8kHz) but the DSD128 file [black] will swamp your player/amp with less <100kHz noise. PM


Paul Lewis
Piano Sonatas by Schubert, D575/Weber, No 2 (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Harmonia Mundi HMM902324

You would rarely encounter Weber's highly dramatic Sonata No 2 (1816) at recitals, and recordings – beginning with Alfred Cortot's in 1939 [Naxos] – are few and far between, although Ohlsson's complete piano works set reappeared on Hyperion in 2011. Schubert once worked as assistant to Weber, and his Sonata in B, D575, is near contemporaneous: 1817. A sensible coupling then – Lewis's first Schubert sonata recording for Harmonia Mundi was in 2003 and Nos 14-21 are all available. There's a lucidity and control in his playing that's always present, and a sensitive awareness of the expressive demands of the music – even writing as impulsive as in the outer sections of the Weber 'Menuetto', more a scherzo. He is cleanly recorded at the Teldex Studio: the balance is quite close but not without space around the piano. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
I've mentioned on many occasions before that there's not much going on above 10kHz from a piano, so the ~45kHz bandwidth of this 96kHz file is more than adequate. The (Berlin) recording is clean and free of clipped samples. PM


Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Gustavo Gimeno
Debussy: La Mer; Images; Six Épigraphes Antiques
(96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; DSD64)
www.highresaudio.com; Pentatone PTC5186627

Debussy decided to follow Images Book 1 with a two-piano sequel but changed his mind and wrote for orchestra: we have 'Ibéria' from the triptych here but also Colin Matthews' new (2018) adaptation of the three movements from Book 1. The Épigraphes – Pentatone already has a fine Suisse Romande version in its catalogue [HFN Mar '17] – were also orchestrated by a different composer, Rudolf Escher. Gustavo Gimeno, the orchestra's principal conductor since 2015, has worked as assistant to Jansons, Haitink and Abbado, to whom he says he owes most as mentor. You can hear that influence in the way the music comes foremost, presented without ego. Orchestral clarity is notably greater after La Mer: probably done at the earlier of the 2016/18 dates given by Pentatone. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Tested here in 96kHz guise, this looks to be the native format of both 2016 (trks 1-6) and 2018 recordings (trks 7-15), subsequently upsampled to DSD64 for Pentatone's SACD release. This clean file shows good use of dynamic range. PM


Andreas Ottensamer/Yuja Wang
Blue Hour: Works by Brahms, Mendelssohn & Weber (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; DG 483 6069

At age 21, Andreas Ottensamer was appointed principal clarinettist of the Berliner Philharmoniker. He is accompanied by them in Weber's Concerto No 1, Mariss Jansons conducting, and partnered by Yuja Wang in his Grand Duo Concertant. They also play seven of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words in contrasting moods (adapted by Ottensamer) and two late Brahms pieces arranged by others – adding clarinet does few favours to the lovely Intermezzo Op.118:2. Presto Classical has a March '11 interview where Ottensamer talks about his programme choices, but there's no booklet provided here. The trouble is, he is so gifted a technician that he can sound bland, and it's Yuja Wang who brings more variety and interest to the duos. His Concerto finale sparkles but the orchestral sound is rather vague and woolly. CB

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
Here's a download that will illuminate the 96kHz LED on your DAC even though the Clarinet Concerto No1 (trks 2, 3, 4) is an upsample from a 48kHz source [black spectrum]. The remaining 96kHz files are free of clipping and spuriae. PM