Hi-Res Downloads, June 2020

hfnalbumLondon Concertante
Music From The Movies (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; CMG n/a cat no

You'd be forgiven for thinking 'Not another album of movie music', and admittedly the selection here is hardly adventurous. It kicks off with ET before proceeding in an orderly and entirely predictable fashion through Schindler's List, Superman, and an extended Jurassic Park medley of John Williams. Well, it's either a medley or just all of JW's film music blurring into one. However, what sets this collection apart is the quality of the playing and recording. This isn'tanother big-band session orchestra album, but is tautly played by this accomplished chamber ensemble and recorded with equal precision and detail. Nothing is going to rock you back on your heels, but this is still a delightful set. Constantly interesting, the smaller forces involved give a good insight into the scoring, right the way through to a crisply rendered take on a Bond theme that loses nothing for the absence of Adele's 'Sky-foaaaal'. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
No technical or recording details are provided for this CMG release but the 96kHz rendering offers a good dynamic range with no samples exceeding –0.3dBFs. Alias filtering is not complete – note low-level images at 44-48kHz . PM


Scottish CO/François Leleux
Bizet: Carmen Suite No 1; Symphony in C/Gounod: Petite Symphonie (192kHz/24-bit, FLAC/ALAC)
www.linnrecords.com; CDK624

The gem here is the little symphony composed by Charles Gounod in 1885, for flute and pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns. Here, Leleux (equally known as oboist and conductor and, incidentally, the husband of Lisa Batiashvili) leads the renowned winds of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The five orchestral movements taken from Carmen were arranged by Ernest Guiraud (in the opera his recitatives often replaced the original spoken dialogue), while the Symphony was one of Bizet's early works – he was 17, and much influenced then by Gounod's music. These are punchy recordings, close-mic'd presumably to overcome the long reverb of Caird Hall, Dundee. But soundstage details are sharply focused and all the performances have drive and spirit. Those winds make a lovely sound together. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Another Philip Hobbs production for Linn, this 192kHz download shows some slight rise in ultrasonic noise and spuriae at 86-94kHz but the bandwidth is well used (percussion to 50kHz) and dynamic peaks do not exceed –0.4dBFs. PM


Budapest Fest Orch/Ivan Fischer
Mahler Symphony No 7 (DXD; DSD64-DSD256)
www.nativedsd.com; Channel Classics CCS SA 38019

This was the last stop in Fischer's journey through the Mahler Symphonies – he says he doesn't do the huge Eighth (although his brother Adam has recently recorded it for Avi Music) but Das Lied von der Erde is promised for later this year. You can still see the absorbing Dutch TV documentary on this Sep '15 production, which I mentioned in my earlier SACD review [HFN Jun '19], and coming back to Fischer's interpretation I still find the three inner movements the most convincing – especially the eerie Scherzo, like a ballroom populated with ghosts! The very fine orchestral playing and Channel Classics' true concert hall perspective raise the rating, but Kubelík and Tennstedt, I think, brought one closer to Mahler's world here than Fischer, whose flexible tempo choices seem to me to come at the expense of flowing continuity in the two outer movements. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Although this download is offered in DXD and DSD up to DSD256 (4x), the original recording was made using Grimm Audio DACs at just DSD64. Thus, the swell of ultrasonic requantisation noise will be identical in all versions (DSD128 here). PM


Conan Gray
Kid Crow (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.qobuz.com; Republic 862939

A remarkably brief set from this 'just out of his teens' singer/songwriter/YouTube sensation draws on his background growing up as a mixed-race kid in Texas. But the mix is slightly unusual: Irish father and Japanese mother. The result is an album instantly going Top 5 in the States, and with a huge Spotify following. School bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual confusion – it's all here, and there's no denying Gray's ability to craft a good tune while delivering a lyrical punch. If you listen closely, that is. Unfortunately that's not always too easy, given the tendency of the production to throw in the kitchen sink, while the performer's strangely androgynous voice is a matter of taste. Still, there's much to like here, especially in the more stripped-down tracks. However, this is an album most likely to appeal to the fans, and fortunately there's no shortage of those. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Free of clipped samples but still recorded up to the digital endstops (–0.2dBFs), this 44.1kHz file has a very limited dynamic range (peak-to-RMS a little over 1-bit). Meanwhile trk 4 looks to have been recorded at 32kHz [black spectrum]. PM


Game Theory
Across The Barrier Of Sound: PostScript (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC; MQA)
www.highresaudio.com; Omnivore Recordings 18161

We seem not exactly short of 'retrospectives and rarities' releases of late. Some of these offer an insight, while others appear no more than the sweepings from the cutting-room floor. There's a bit of both in this album from the heyday of the late singer/songwriter/cult power-popper Scott Miller. He's with his best-known outfit, aficionados of which would have you believe never quite reached the fame it was due. The sound quality is variable here, being drawn from fan-club cassettes, home demos, live recordings and some unreleased studio sessions, and there's much to like in both the songwriting and the jangly, punchy performances. But this is probably one more for the fans – who'll love the demos Miller worked up in his post-GT career – and completists, rather than the casual listener. AE

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
The provenance of these tapes probably explains why most of the tracks sound more compressed than the (best case) 2-bit peak-to-RMS dynamic range might suggest. Trk 14 illustrated here. Difficult to understand how MQA will assist. PM