Hi-Res Downloads

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 22, 2018
Rarely heard live today, these colourful scores by Manuel de Falla have been ‘demonstration disc’ material, right from the early days of LP. Indeed, classic versions were recorded under Ernest Ansermet – his Three-Cornered Hat is still on Speakers Corner 180g vinyl. Falla described Nights (one of Arthur Rubinstein’s favourites) as ‘symphonic impressions’, a better way to think of it than as a piano concerto. The pianist here (married to Kent Nagano) is set rather forward, but so was de Larrocha [Decca].
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jun 01, 2015
We’ve only just been introduced, and already 32-year-old Cuban-born Ms Pacheco is sitting at her piano in just her drawers – what is one to think? Actually, Marialy Pacheco already has six previous releases under her belt (not that she’s wearing one), and is an acclaimed classical and jazz pianist. This is simply her first album for the Neuklang label, and finds Pacheco going back to her Havana roots, accompanied by Colombian bassist and drummer Juan Camillo Villa and Miguel Altamar. It’s a tight little trio, able to kick back on tracks such as ‘Cambodian Smiles’ or motor through ‘En El Camino’, while the album centres around the pianist’s three-part ‘Cuban Suite’, exploring the country’s dance styles. And the ‘klang’ here is certainly impressive: yes, the piano is rather spotlit, but the bass and drums are resolved well, and this is a very attractive-sounding set.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 10, 2017
Available in various formats, with sample tracks at www. 2l. no, this Mozart album has featured as a reference in more than one HFN hardware review, and was this year remastered in conjunction with Bob Stuart using MQA technology. It is certainly a fine production with stable balances, an intimate scale, realistic string timbres and just a hint of decay as movements end.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 20, 2017
Jazz/classical crossovers are nothing new, but this set by Norwegian saxophonist and composer Marius Neset pulls off the trick better than many: there’s not any sign of the usual car-crash or shoehorning here, but rather a fine combination of the jazz ensemble and the London Sinfonietta’s instruments. The music itself is by turns slow and lyrical and hard-driving, making use of everything from the Sinfonietta’s woodwinds to the crisp pizzicato strings, and the ‘band’ is clearly up for the challenge’s of Neset’s dense, busy writing. If there’s a criticism it’s that there often seems to be too much going on, and ideas tumble out and are replaced almost before they can be established, let alone developed – but a masterful recording makes the most of everything from lush strings to the taut, jerky rhythms. Here’s a crossover well worth closer inspection.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2015
Knopfler’s eighth solo album mixes rock, Celtic and country influences, and more than a measure of introspection, providing a ‘spot the reference’ game for the casual observer and fans alike. There’s more than a hint of Local Hero here and there – well, quite a lot actually – and his homage to Beryl Bainbridge is pure ‘Sultans Of Swing’, unlikely though that sounds. Inspired by his time touring with Bob Dylan – notably in ‘Silver Eagle’ – this is Knopfler as storyteller, from Bainbridge to poet Basil Bunting, whom he met when he was a copy boy on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. Trouble is, Knopfler’s writing, scoring, and performance are so distinctive that it can sound like there’s not much new here, even though the sound quality of the stripped-down recording is gorgeous.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2016
See here: this could be either a classical album or a jazz one, so blurred are the lines in this unusual, challenging recording. Led by Martin Albrecht on clarinet and bass clarinet, the quartet – Daniel Prandl plays piano, Dirik Schilgen drums and Katharina Gross bass – improvises and interprets around the works of Scriabin, with some of the originals played by pianist Asli Kilic, and joined by the occasional foray into electronica and sound effects, as on ‘Never Ending Story’. OK, so it all sounds a bit high-falutin’ – one track, ‘Rausch’, may well have you stifling giggles – but strangely it works, the musicians producing a set which rewards the attention with a fascinating series of pieces. It’s recorded and mixed by Markus Born and Ekhard Steiger, and produced by Albrecht.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 08, 2017
There’s obviously something of a blooming of Nordic double-bass player/composers with solo albums at the moment, for here we have Norwegian ‘big fiddle’ virtuoso Mats Eilertsen with a scintillating set of self-composed pieces originally part of a collection commissioned for the 2014 Vossa Jazz Festival, and evolved on the road to create this ensemble album played by a septet. And you can tell the musicians have been working closely to develop the recordings here, so well do they connect in an expressive mélange of brass and woodwind, pianos both acoustic and electric, some superb guitar-work by long-time Eilertsen collaborator Thomas T Dahl, and of course the composer’s own bass. The music is understated, mesmeric and consistently captivating, and – despite our reservations in the lab panel below – instruments still sound crisp, clear and natural. AE Sound Quality: 90% Hi-Fi News Lab Report While this is certainly a 96kHz rendering and one that avoids peak-level overload, spectral analysis reveals a clump of (digital?) spuriae around 30kHz [see graph].
C. Joseph (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 13, 2018
‘This life surrounds you, guns are loaded. . . .
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2015
96kHz/24-bit WAV, ALAC, FLAC*, Naim CD188 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) Max Raptor – a four piece punk rock band formed in 2006 in Burton upon Trent – has released a clutch of singles and an eight-track mini-album Portraits [Naim label] since touring with The Stranglers in 2010. Mother’s Ruin is the band’s first proper album, released Sept ’13.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 01, 2013
96kHz/24-bit ALAC/FLAC/AIFF/WAV, Cleveland International/Epic/Legacy (supplied by www. hdtracks. com) Tempting though it may be to hit the ‘Buy’ button at the thought of Mr Meat’s finest hour in 24/96 glory, it’s not the revelation you might wish for, and the epic title track fares worst of the seven here, just too cluttered in its construction to allow individual elements to be teased forth. The bass is overwhelming, the whole painfully peaky in its most manic moments despite the magnificence of Steinman’s cod-Springsteen spread (authenticated by Bruce’s piano man Roy Bitten and drummer Max Weinberg).
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2014
Melphi is a Dutch quartet, formed by pianist Rogier Telderman in 2010 and curiously named after the psychiatrist in The Sopranos. Through The Looking Glass is the band’s debut outing, comprising mostly Telderman compositions, with lyrics by the group’s singer Lotte van Drunen. Bassist Jurriaan Dekker and drummer Willem van der Krabben complete the combo, their virtuosity shining through the set’s collection of enchanting tracks. It’s a nice recording too, the electric bass underpinning the combo’s moody, melodic, jazz-inspired songs to great effect.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jun 01, 2015
You can of course sample tracks at HRA and read the booklet PDF (texts dangerously close to ‘Pseuds’ Corner’ territory) before thinking of buying, which is probably just as well for the compositions of this Russian Orthodox Bishop (Metropolitan), born in 1966. There’s a Concerto grosso and a fugue on B-A-C-H – ‘the sense of the infinite contained in these four notes continues to excite’, we are told – but the rest is vocal: an ultra-conservative Stabat mater, which I admit I quite enjoyed, Songs of Death (after Lorca) and De Profundis, a 24m Psalm settings piece. The Concerto grosso is pure Baroque-pastiche, the fugue like an old Stokowski Bach transcription. While nothing will frighten the horses, it’s depressing to find this sort of sub-Pärt ‘me too’ music, copying its ‘sawing’ motifs and liberal use of tolling bells, being written today.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 11, 2017
This is an intended celebration of the music of Clara Schumann – five pieces – and the Schumanns’ relationship with the young Brahms, represented here by his Op. 9 Variations (where Sasaki is quite outclassed by Barry Douglas on Chandos). So why is the young Japanese-American pianist’s debut recital entitled Obsidian? Because it includes a seven-part dramatic piece, Obsidian Liturgy, composed for her last year by Max Grafe – 2016 marking 140th/160th anniversaries of the Schumanns’ deaths. As a private gesture, fine, but 10.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2014
A new reissue of Oldfield’s fifth album from 1982, which saw him less prog, more folk and pop, along with Vocoder and Fairlight CMI moments aplenty, the marvels of their day. Newcomers may be surprised to encounter Hall & Oates hit ‘Family Man’, but it’s Oldfield’s song and this is where it first appeared – ably sung by Maggie Reilly, though less so on the bonus live set from Cologne. These 1982 live tracks (8-15) hardly merit the 24/96 treatment, though include a fine ‘Tubular Bells Pt 1’, and show how the multiple personalities of the 24-minute ‘Taurus II’ combined less incongruously in its live arrangement than in the studio, where it spasms between splices of jazz-rock, fusion and ye olde Robin Hood music. Note that the physical 2CD version comes with a DVD of surround mixes and 12-minutes of video.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 01, 2013
96kHz/24-bit FLAC, BIS-SACD-1996 (supplied by www. eclassical. com) With Vol. 1 in this new cycle [HFN May ’12] I concluded that Vänskä’s earlier BIS versions of Symphonies 2 and 5 were by no means superseded.