Hi-Res Downloads, May 2020

hfnalbumWolfgang Muthspiel, Scott Colley & Brian Blade
Angular Blues (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.qobuz.com; ECM 003178702

This set was recorded in Tokyo after the trio – guitarist Muthspiel, with Colley on bass and Blade on drums – had completed a three-night run at the superb Cotton Club in the city's Maranouchi district, and the familiarity shows in a relaxed, easygoing performance oozing confidence and musical harmony. With the tapes then mixed back in the renowned Studios La Bouissone by ECM founder and boss Manfred Eicher and Muthspiel, it can be taken as read that this album bears all the label's hallmarks of fine sound and integrity.

What's really striking is the intimacy of the sound, its warmth and generosity never getting in the way of the detail and the superb playing. Muthspiel's originals make up most of the list and there are two standards here – Cole Porter's 'Everything I Love' and, closing the album, 'I'll Remember April'. This is jazz recording at its best. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
There are some minor spuriae at 19.5kHz and 21kHz, seemingly associated with Muthspiel's guitar feed [black trace], but the mix is otherwise clean. The ~45kHz span is well used, mainly by percussion, and peaks are well under 0dBFs. PM


Marc van Roon Trio
Quantum Stories (DSD64)
www.nativedsd.com; Challenge Classics CR73368

Released back in 2013, but now available in DSD via NativeDSD.com, this thoughtful trio jazz set led by van Roon, with Martijn Vink on drums and bassist Clemens van der Feen, is blessed with an equally delicious, delicate sound, recorded in a reverberant church acoustic by Bert van der Wolf. The balance isn't hyper-close, but instead gives the music room to breathe, allowing the listener a real, live experience. This suits the music here, mainly written by van Roon alone or with the band, whether it's the somewhat abstract opening 'movement' of the four-part 'Quantum Story' spaced through the album, or straight down the line tracks like 'Just Friends'. Van Roon says of the project that 'being able to record our stories and improvisations in such a high quality and pure way without any filtering allowed us a true creative experience', and that's clear throughout this album. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
This stereo downmix of a six-channel surround recording – produced using dCS converters – exhibits the excess ultrasonic requantisation noise inherent with DSD64, but the recording remains exceptionally vivid. PM


Johan Dalene
Violin Concertos by Barber & Tchaikovsky (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; BIS BIS-2440

An exceptional debut coupling by this young Swedish violinist (20 this year), accompanied by the Norrköping SO under Daniel Blendulf and produced in its concert hall. The Barber is the stronger performance – if you can take the music's saccharine content – with a greater sense of equal partnership than in the Tchaikovsky. There I felt Blendulf was providing more of a background accompaniment to Dalene's spacious and evidently confident interpretation, with one whipped-up orchestral crescendo before the cadenza in (i) which seemed to me overdone. Dalene, a former Menuhin Competition prize-winner, plays a 1736 Stradivarius and he seems incapable of producing an ugly sound, and you'll hang on to his every note. He's not set too forward in producer/sound engineer Jens Braun's excellent recording. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded at 96kHz/24-bit, with post-processing on Sequoia and Pyramix digital audio workstations, noise levels are very low and free of spuriae. This native 96kHz file captures the violin harmonics stretching out to 40kHz! PM


Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko
R Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie; Tod und Verklärung (192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Lawo LWC1192

Lawo hasn't provided PDFs with its three Petrenko/R Strauss programmes bought as downloads, but the one for the CD here is freely available on the Lawo website. (YouTube has their complete Apr '19 concert performance of the Alpine Symphony.) I thought Death And Transfiguration had a marginally richer sound, and I was more gripped by this performance, but both works have a wide spread and detailed soundstage information. I did, however, think the offstage brass [trk 3] were too distant. The playing is sensitive and Petrenko does make the Alpine seem a symphony rather than a series of colour-slides – dawn, emerging out of a mysterious darkness, a threatening storm, water droplets (Strauss was good at those, eg, Don Quixote too), etc. But some track edits are clearly audible. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Although the 'master file' is cited at DXD resolution (352.8kHz/24-bit) the >40kHz requantisation noise is unusual, though not sufficient to suggest time at DSD128. Note alias filtering at ~90kHz from its downsampling to 192kHz. PM


I Am Not A Dog On A Chain (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.qobuz.com; Étienne/BMG 538589392

Prophet or pariah? Right now, few artists divide opinion like the former Smiths front man: the fanatics still hail him as some kind of genius, while others remain inescapably queasy at some of his politicking and opinions. Put that aside, and you're left with the only relevant question about this latest release: is it actually any good? Well, like the proverbial curate's egg, the answer is yes and no: certainly this is an adventurous album in musical terms, with great swathes of electronica, large-scale production (rendered well in 96kHz/24-bit) and even the soaring pipes of Thelma Houston on 'Bobby, Don't You Think They Know?'. It's all wrapped in swirling keyboards, brass and pounding bass, and certainly sounds magnificent when it's good. Just don't listen too closely to the sometimes sneering lyrics and, I'd suggest, give a miss to the rambling and baffling 'The Secret Of Music'. AE

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
Like many pop/rock files, this album is mastered and released at 96kHz, but the content has mixed sample rates – Morrissey's vocals found at 48kHz [black trace]. Digital level regularly hits 0dBFs with evidence of clipped samples. PM