Hi-Res Downloads, March 2019

Paul Simon
In The Blue Light (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Legacy Recordings 19075841442

So Paul Simon, coincidentally just about the same age as Paul McCartney [see p103], has said farewell to his touring days, and marked the occasion with an album of reworked past tracks. It's not always a great idea to revisit old work, but Simon has avoided the hackneyed 'greatest hits, but this time with an orchestra' approach. Instead, In The Blue Light is a collection of lesser-known album tracks reimagined: some see radical changes, such as the upbeat take on 'Pigs, Sheep And Wolves', while others might have you going back to your favourite streaming service to discover just how little he has changed. That said 'Can't Run But' – with minimalist-inspired strings – is fascinating, while 'René And Georgette Magritte…' is lovely enough to be almost worth the ticket price alone. And as you'd expect from this painstaking re-examination, the sound is as meticulous as it is gorgeous. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
The recordings here are of mixed quality with some – trks 3, 4 and 8 [black, above] – showing elevated levels of ultrasonic noise while others – trks 2, 7 [red/blue] and 9 in particular – are notably cleaner. Trk 10 includes upsampled content. PM


Joscho Stephan Trio
Paris-Berlin (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Berliner Meister Schallplatten BMS 1817 V

As hommage to Django Reinhardt and the famous Hot Club de France, guitarist Joscho Stephan put together a trio with Volker Kamp (double bass) and rhythm guitarist Sven Jungbeck, and recorded this album of original tracks and covers in the old-fashioned way – in single takes, direct-to-disc. The title refers to the inspiration – in the LP version there are 'Paris' and 'Berlin' sides, the latter in honour of the recording location, Studio 1 at Emil Berliner Studios in that city – and the easygoing virtuosity on display here makes this a graceful listen, well served by excellent recorded sound. The balance is open and airy, and while Stephan's guitar is somewhat spotlit, it's more than up to such close scrutiny, and the other two performers provide able support. There's nothing radical or unusual here – just three musicians playing superbly, making the whole project charming. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Direct-to-vinyl disc it may be, but the Joscho Stephan Trio were also clearly stored direct to HDD via a 96kHz/24-bit ADC at the same time! This digital snap of the session is clean, and doubtless quieter than the analogue version. PM


Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Vladimir Jurowski
R Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra/Mahler: Totenfeier
(96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; DSD64)
www.highresaudio.com; Pentatone PTC 5186597

When Jurowski was appointed to the Berlin orchestra he said he intended to do a lot of Mahler with them, while the Strauss showcases their existing abilities with that composer. It's a coupling we've had before [Boulez/DG] and there's an earlier OAE/Jurowski Totenfeier [Signum], but here Jurowski adds a Symphonic Prelude in C minor, possibly by Mahler but more probably Bruckner's. Totenfeier (1888) was reworked as the opening movement of the 'Resurrection' Symphony, of course, and offers fascinating comparisons. With a more interesting strings layout than the CSO/Boulez, Jurowski gives a finely focused picture of this early but accomplished Mahler piece. His Strauss is leaner, far more analytical than the admired 1973 Karajan/DG Zarathustra, baring every detail. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Recorded separately at the St. Matthias-Kirche, Berlin-Schöneberg, the Seifert organ is integrated seamlessly into the 96kHz mix of Also Sprach... This file is an object lesson in the use of 24-bit range – pop/rock engineers take note! PM


Paul McCartney
Egypt Station (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Capitol Music Group (no cat)

With almost a score of post-Beatles albums already under his belt, and presumably not exactly struggling to pay the mortgage, why does Paul McCartney even bother cranking out new albums? Well, this latest set shows he clearly believes he has something worth saying, and this current collection of songs is anything but cranked out – instead, this is some of his strongest material for ages. There's a bit of a concept here – the songs as stops on a journey, which doesn't quite come off – and with mixed results he's drafted in a couple of producers of 'young people's music'. Ryan Tedder takes a sledgehammer to the clumsy nut that is 'Fuh You', and ends up with sound so dense all humour is lost, while Greg Kurstin brings more sensitivity, and adds constant points of interest, such that the closing tracks will definitely leave listeners wanting more. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
The 96kHz LED may glow on your DAC and '96kHz' may show on your rendering software, but this is still an upsampled 44.1kHz file. Trk 6 'Fuh You' is distinct at 48kHz, but clipped [black]. Clipped samples also evident on trks 13, 16. PM


Seong-Jin Cho
Mozart: Piano Concerto K466; Piano Sonatas K282 and K331; Fantasia K397 (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; DG 483 5522

In a booklet interview the young Korean pianist (2015 Warsaw prize-winner) describes how his parents' love of Mozart has influenced him – more pertinently, he also has interesting observations on performance. In this programme he sandwiches two major-key sonatas between the works in D-minor, invigoratingly partnered with the COE and Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the Concerto. The two Beethoven cadenzas I have never heard bettered, and there's perfect matching between soloist and orchestra – but with too much decoration from Seong-Jin Cho in (ii)? The solo pieces are rather too plain, even a little hard – although he talks about Mozart and the voice, he doesn't create the singing lines so natural to Eschenbach [DG], while Uchida [Decca] probes far greater depths in the unfinished Fantasia. CB

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
All genuine 96kHz recordings, the Concerto (at Baden-Baden, Festspielhaus) has far higher analogue noise [black spectrum], the Sonatas (Hamburg-Harburg, Friedrich-Ebert-Halle) evidently digitally captured and mixed. PM