Hi-Res Downloads, September 2018

hfnalbum.pngRCO/Daniele Gatti
Mahler Symphony No 4 (192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.eclassical.com; RCO Live RCO18004

When he was with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Daniele Gatti made a well-received Conifer CD of this symphony, and now he's with the Concertgebouw joins a line of principal conductors stretching back to Mengelberg (in 1939) to have recorded Mahler 4. Haitink has done so four times, with a very attractive 2006 version with Christine Schäfer on this same RCO label. Gatti's soprano here is Julia Kleiter – very naturally balanced with the orchestra (for once). The sleigh-bell outbursts in the finale have surely never been taken as fast as here? But Gatti's reading vividly brings out all of Mahler's contradictions – if you think this is a 'comfortable' work this will all be a revelation. And it's full of tiny details – eg, the oxen in (iv) – brought out in superb engineering from two Nov '17 performances, with full orchestra filling out the fine acoustic space and with a highly detailed soundstage. CB

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
This DXD (352.8kHz) recording employed Merging Technologies ADCs and editing/mixing software. The noise floor is a little high while downsampling to 176.4kHz followed by asymmetric upsampling to 192kHz was probably unnecessary. PM


Sullivan Fortner
Moments Preserved (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Impulse! 002844202

Three years on from his Impulse! debut, Aria, prodigiously talented jazz pianist Fortner returns with this set, combining covers and self-written numbers, backed by his regular collaborators bassist Ameen Saleem and drummer Jeremy 'Bean' Clemons. There's an easygoing assurance about both his playing and the way the three work together, whether opening with Merv Griffin's 'Wheel Of Fortune' theme or on the tight swing of 'Pep Talk'. But the album can deliver some unexpected delights, such as the interplay of the trio and Fortner's atonal playing on Saleem's 'Beans And Cornbread' or the way Fortner bounces off Roy Hargrove's trumpet on 'Monk's Medley'. It's a delight, sounding like a well-sorted live set and treated to a crisp, pacey and highly detailed recording, the trio – again with Hargrove – going out in style on Benny Green's 'Phoebe's Samba'. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded at Sear Sound, this 96kHz file shows no aliasing or other obvious distortions. The ~40kHz bandwidth is not required to capture the 10-12kHz range of the piano but is usefully occupied by the flugelhorn and trumpet. PM


Quatuor Cambini-Paris
Gounod: String Quartets (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Aparté AP177

The centenary year for Charles Gounod (best remembered for his Faust ballet score) brings this first recording of all five of his known string quartets to be played on gut-stringed instruments from 1839-81 – which inevitably brings a certain thinness of tone. (In fact, the catalogue offers only one alternative: the A-minor with the Silzer Quartet, from 1968.) I say 'known' as the chronology of Gounod's compositions in that medium and their history of performance is still a tangle – only one was published, and that as 'No 3'. The Golden Galerie of the Banque de France was the venue for these 2017 productions, where there's not much image depth. If the cello placing sounds odd it's because he sits next to the leader, then (l-r) viola and second violin. These are all absorbing works, though heard blind I doubt if you'd guess the composer, or even the nationality. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
This 96kHz file clearly illustrates the bandwidth of violin, viola and cello, their harmonics reaching out to around 25kHz-30kHz, albeit 80dB below the level of the fundamentals. Dynamic range is excellent and there's only some slight aliasing. PM


Brenda Navarrete
Mi Mundo (192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Alma Records ACD92972

Well, there's no denying that this debut album from Cuban singer, songwriter and percussionist Brenda Navarette has plenty of impact, not least because it's recorded very hot indeed, and fair leaps from the speakers. Misgivings about the recording's hi-res provenance and limited dynamic range aside, there's no denying that Navarette's brand of Afro-Cuban style is sunny, captivating and exceptionally enjoyable: she has an attention-grabbing voice and, as you might expect, the percussion is prominent in the mix, defying the feet to stand still. There's a lot going on here, notably in tracks such as 'Anana Oyé', with the result that the sound can become a bit thick. But then up pops Navarette's take on Duke Ellington's 'Caravan', and the smile of recognition becomes a grin as the music takes off in unexpected, purely latin directions. Huge fun. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
The sleeve notes say 'Recorded in High Res' and while it's recorded at high level (excessively so) and will light the 192kHz LED on your DAC, the backing mix looks to be recorded at a higher sample rate than the main vocals at 44.1kHz. PM


Leo Sidran
Cool School (88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Bonsaï/Nardis Music 798576509828

What's not to like? An album of songs by the great Michael Franks by drummer turned all-round Jazz Good Thing Leo Sidran, son of Ben. Opening with a slick, funky take on 'Monkey See Monkey Do', Cool School is much more than a covers or tribute album, rather giving a fresh perspective on some superb songwriting, clever lyrics and irreverent humour. Clearly an officially sanctioned project – Franks himself turns up as guest vocalist on the title track – the set benefits from fine musicianship throughout, with a lengthy list of contributors despite the fact that Sidran himself sings both lead and backing, plays drums, guitars and bass and a range of keyboards. Oh, and vibraphone, just for good measure. Yes, this is one of those 'levels up, dynamic range down' exercises, but the quality of the performances means the overall affect is slickly enjoyable. AE

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
Every track on this album is recorded super-hot and most show aliasing artefacts along with high levels of (analogue) noise, but there are evidently two sessions here – trks 1, 3, 5, 9 being filtered ~30kHz [black trace, above]. PM