C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 01, 2013
This debut programme by duoW begins, not with the great Kodály unaccompanied cello sonata, but with a less familiar duo for violin and cello (his Op. 7); it ends with an arrangement of ‘The Stars And Stripes Forever’. The Servai/Léonard extravaganza Grand Duo de Concert draws upon our own National Anthem and ‘Yankee Doodle’, while the Halvorsen is based on a Handel passacaglia – their 2011 music video of this, Ghosts And Flowers, was apparently a viral hit. The two gifted string players have Masters degrees from Juilliard and they aspire to bring classical music to a younger generation.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 01, 2013
96kHz/24-bit ALAC/FLAC/WAV, moscd4010 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) It’s not uncommon that a recording identified as compromised in the Lab Report might still sound quite marvellous to these ears. Here, however, something was clearly wrong, with distortion hovering at the edge of audibility, pressuring the peaks and affecting image clarity on busier tracks like ‘Listen To Me’ and the surprising bottle-neck blues of ‘Dust My Broom’.
K. Kessler (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 01, 2013
96kHz/24-bit ‘Studio Master’ FLAC, Linn Records AKD 405 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) A natural for high-res downloads, Barker and band’s fourth album is the first issued on a label they don’t own. The one that they found to be simpatico is Linn, which paradoxically has embraced digital with similar force to its analogue worship (minus the politics).
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2013
The young Britten’s Piano Concerto was thought too clever by half when introduced in 1938, and he replaced the third movement in 1945 – the original is a bonus track here. The first LP version (EMI, 1957) was with Jacques Abram, pianist in Utah and NY premieres. The definitive composer-conducted 1970 Decca was with Sviatoslav Richter, no less. The far superior Violin Concerto fared rather better – although The Times’ review in 1940 found ‘little achieved from so large a display’.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2013
An appropriate title for this mish-mash of styles and songs, delivered perhaps too effortlessly by the venerable guitar god as he plucks well-ripened plums from his portfolio of styles. He Marley ups Taj Mahal’s ‘Further On Down The Road’ and carbon-copies Peter Tosh’s country-reggae crossover ‘Till Your Well Runs Dry’. Then he backs up to the 1930s for four tracks: a softly-softly ‘The Folks Who Live On The Hill’; a sloppy duet with Paul McCartney on ‘All of Me’; a slide-guitar moan through Lead Belly’s ‘Goodnight Irene’; and a downright dreary ‘Our Love Is Here To Stay’. There’s livelier stuff, including two original compositions, while the highlight is perhaps an unexpected cover of Gary Moore’s ‘Still Got The Blues’ with Stevie Winwood guest-grinding the Hammond organ.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2013
The French violinist, now 64, has appeared on various record labels since his Erato debut in 1973; in 2002 he founded – and leads – the Camerata de Lausanne. Co-soloists here are viola player Yuko Shimizu (K364) and Ami Oike in the unfairly neglected Concertone for two violins (which also has important solo oboe and cello parts). These partnering string soloists are spaced not too far in from Amoyal: not in the right channel, thank goodness! The sound is generally vibrant and clear with plenty of ambience around the orchestra. One jarring entry, 2m 09s into track 2 warranted re-editing; and cadenzas were, I suspect, pasted in separately.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2013
A raucous Gershwin Prelude segues into Copland’s moody Concerto – one of his best pieces – then time-travels via Debussy (‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’) and Amy Beach (her romantic Berceuse) to 19th century concertos by Cimarosa and Spohr. Short transcriptions and concertos alternate in what may add up to a stylistically incoherent whole but one which affords the young Austrian Andreas Ottensamer, now principal clarinettist with the Berlin Philharmonic, a chance to illustrate his captivating skills in both jazzy and classical genres. His liquid sounds, wide colour palette and sense of timing sets this version of the Copland above any competition (even the recent Michael Collins/Chandos pales) and the Rotterdam Orchestra surprises in its exuberant embrace of the two American pieces. Bold, close-mic’d sound from De Doelen concert-hall.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2013
44. 1kHz/24-bit ALAC/FLAC/WAV, Naimcd180 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) A fine example of how rock can benefit from retention rather than wholesale flattening of dynamics, Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman, Radio 2 DJ, TV panellist, writer and former marine Huey Morgan pours his life experience into a rich album, not so much ‘solo’ as with a group of long-term friends (‘my gang’).
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 01, 2013
44. 1kHz/24-bit ALAC/FLAC/WAV, Anti-/Epitaph (supplied by www. hdtracks. co.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 01, 2013
‘No Wagner tenor sings with such musicianship, colour and sensitivity… he sets a standard for our time’ [Sunday Times]. It was Kaufmann who gave the Abbado/DG Fidelio distinction [HFN Nov ’11]; and the German singer’s artistry at times reminds me of the young Fischer-Dieskau. Here we have excerpts from the Ring cycle (don’t be alarmed at Siegfried’s painful attempts to play the reed: track 2, 7m 44s!), Rienzi, Tannhäuser, Meistersinger and Lohengrin. Then, unusually for a man (as he explains in the booklet foreword), we have the lovely Wesendonck-Lieder, with its Tristan references in ‘Im Treibhaus’.