Hi-Res Downloads

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Stephanie Proot is a young Belgian pianist who trained in Antwerp, Paris and Brussels and attended various masterclasses – Bashkirov, Fleischer, Goode, et al – and has won several competition awards. She makes her debut plunging in at the deep end with Beethoven’s early F major, the two ‘quasi fantasia’ sonatas (the second the ‘Moonlight’) and – a brave try – the late A-flat. Recording in a dry Ghent studio, she plays a Yamaha Grand: it has decent presence but the album is sonically unremarkable. Proot has the necessary technical competence but not as yet the musical phrasing insights shown in the first recordings of Grimaud, Pires or Uchida, and her playing is somewhat mechanical.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Steve Earle’s 15th release, featuring his cracking road band The Dukes (& Duchesses), was produced in collaboration with his ‘Twang Trust’ production partner Ray Kennedy. His fans couldn’t possibly be disappointed by the outcome, as the vitality and virtuosity of the band is abundant throughout the album’s 12 songs. Earle does what he always does best: tells world-weary stories that amuse, frustrate and infuriate in equal measure. It was recorded in one of the largest and most revered studio spaces in Nashville, the historic RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studios built in 1964 by Chet Atkins and acquired by Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five fame) in 2003.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 27, 2017
Steve Hicks is the kind of guitarist who can keep a crowd entertained for hours. This sweetly varied collection covers popular tunes reaching back to ‘Hungarian Dance No 5’ and ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ and forward into the modern era. His deft interpretation of ‘Funeral March Of A Marionette’ is as much fun as his conflation of Led Zeppelin and Mozart in the closing piece ‘Stairway To Mozart’, but he ventures into darker territory with ‘Bohemian Three-Step’. Here and there, he can’t help quoting melodically related tunes.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jun 26, 2017
He’s done the lutes, he’s done the concept album, and now Mr Sumner delivers perhaps the most down-the-line rock album of his solo career. It’s not quite as rootsy as one might expect, despite the road-trippy ‘Heading South On The Great North Road’: the album takes its title from the New York studio where it was recorded, after all. Yes, this outing by the Englishman in New York is occasionally overblown and stodgy, though that kind of goes with the ‘rediscovering one’s inner rocker’ genre, but when it’s good it harks back to the glory days of early Police tracks, which is no bad thing. The sound, while dense in places, has decent clarity, with of course the voice front and centre, but there’s nothing much here to challenge a high-res audio system, and frankly the ‘issues’ tackled here seem somewhat predictable, from refugees to the plight of the ageing rocker.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 25, 2017
96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; Chandos CHSA5175 (supplied by www. chandos. net) The BBC Symphony for Vivaldi? Well, Tasmin Little says she prefers a ‘big sound’ for ‘The Four Seasons’, and Chandos provides a warm cohesive balance with clear continuo. To my mind, harpsichordist David Wright is the star of the show, coming into his own in ‘Autumn’ with a linking cadenza and a virtual Doppelgänger shadowing the violin.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2016
Trumpeter and composer Blanchard joins forces with his regular quintet to deliver an album of covers and originals combining plenty of funk and groove, along with lush, deep washes of sound and moments of sparkling musical genius. Executive producer here is Blue Note president Don Was, and the material ranges from a soulful version of Hank Williams’s ‘I Ain’t Got Nothing But Time’ to the take on Coldplay’s ‘Midnight’ used to close the set. The sound ranges from the stripped down to the near-orchestral, with Blanchard’s instrument always sounding glorious, and the band – Donald Ramsey on bass, Oscar Seaton on drums, guitarist Charles Altura and Fabian Almazan – has that intuitive ability to break free and bounce the tunes around when required. Mixed sample rates notwithstanding [see Lab Report, below], this is one superb-sounding album.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 01, 2016
44. 1kHz-192kHz/24-bit FLAC/ALAC, CKD471 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) A fellow-pupil with Beethoven in Bonn, Antoine Reicha (from Prague) wrote no fewer than 24 wind quintets, represented here by an Adagio for cor anglais and wind quartet and Quintets in G and B-flat.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 23, 2018
These four young Spanish musicians decided they would like to undertake the three Brahms Piano Quartets – composed for piano, violin, viola and cello and first heard in 1861, ’62 and ’75. No 1 is by far the most popular, not least for its final ‘Rondo alla Zingarese’, and it was later orchestrated by Schoenberg (and twice recorded by Rattle). The 1949 set by Serkin and the Busch players is still current and these new recordings face huge competition. The stage width in this Zaragoza studio production is rather narrow and the 1862 Vuillaume violin sounds less generous in tone than I would have liked.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 03, 2017
I’m not exactly sure ultimate fidelity was the aim of this great set, recorded ‘fast and dirty’ at West London’s British Grove Studios, with occasional drop-ins by passing musicians – Eric Clapton on a couple of tracks – and accomplished add-ons of the calibre of Darryl Jones on bass. Rather the intention was to return to the band’s roots, paying tribute to some of the artists influential in their early days: the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter, both of whom get more than a nod here. The familiarity with the material shows in confidence and swagger: rough round the edges this may be, but there’s an excitement and vitality about the music-making you may not expect from septuagenarian white boys, with Jagger in very fine voice (and harp) indeed, and Keef as laconic as ever, yet equally always ready with the killer riff. Lovely stuff.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 01, 2014
Thanks to preparation and de Waart’s keen ear for balance, every detail of Elgar’s orchestration of the A-flat Symphony is heard – possibly with greater definition than you’ll find elsewhere. But it’s all rather literal and comes at the cost of passion, heartache and a sense of momentum. Gerontius has been the almost exclusive recording preserve of English knights – Ashkenazy the exception. The attractions here are fine orchestral playing and choral sound (set back in a spacious Antwerp hall).
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 01, 2014
This debut album outing from California’s This Wild Life sees the duo Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso recording with Aaron Marsh of Florida-based indie rock band Copeland, performing a collection of heartfelt and melodic ‘acoustic punk-rock’ songs described as a melding of punk and folk. Indeed the band describes itself as being able to successfully perform softer music while touring with heavier bands that play the sort of hardcore punk and metal they spent the formative years exploring. The sound quality throughout is slightly hard-edged and in-your-face, the production ‘crowded’ and subjectively forward. Lacking air and space between instruments and voices, it soon becomes fatiguing.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 01, 2015
192kHz/24-bit ALAC/FLAC, CKD 462 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) This first instalment in a new Sibelius cycle with the BBC’s Welsh Orchestra has prompted a mixed response. Criticism of the sound from Cardiff’s Hoddinott hall strikes me as spectacularly wrong (Gramophone) as – at 192kHz/24-bit at least – this is an extremely fine, natural orchestral presentation.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 26, 2018
96kHz & 192kHz/24-bit, FLAC*; Linn CKD572 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) Sibelius’s First Symphony has long attracted hi-fi enthusiasts with landmark recordings by Collins, Maazel, and Vänskä that showed off your system – not least in the exciting scherzo with its textural contrasts. The Sixth, by contrast, was his most austere symphony, described by the composer as offering ‘pure cold spring water’.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 01, 2016
Written for Joachim in 1853 (as was the more coherent Phantasy in C), Schumann’s Violin Concerto was suppressed until 1937 – with perhaps some justification. Zehetmair found many errors in the printed edition when preparing for his 1988 Teldec CD, and this is his second recording. Choosing a chamber orchestra for Schumann is now the norm but such is the reverberance of the venue, the Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés, it could be of any size. And I didn’t like effectively a separate acoustic for the solo violin.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 10, 2017
This set by German trumpeter and vocalist Till Brönner will neither set the world alight nor challenge any jazz preconceptions, as it’s very much on the safe ground some hundreds of metres back from the cutting edge. If that’s damning with faint praise, so be it: this is a selection of familiar standards covered with a combination of breathy brass and easygoing vocals, set against assured accompaniment and fine production. Brönner’s keen musicianship is matched by pianist Larry Goldings, guitarist Anthony Wilson, John Clayton on bass and drummer Jeff Hamilton, and the whole thing was produced at LA’s Ocean Way by Ruud Jacobs, creating a flawlessly easy sound to match the album’s subtitle, ‘Music for Peaceful Moments’. It may well be a bit too formulaic for some ears – so high marks for technical, if notched down a little on artistic, presentation.