Hi-Res Downloads

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 16, 2018
Forget the PDF booklet hyperbole about a project ‘opening new doors’ and seeking the ‘spirituality and sounds’ of Bach. Now 27, Christian Grøvlen plays 18 works – the Chromatic Fantasy And Fugue, Sinfonias Nos 1-15; French Suite No 3, Partita No 5 – on a modern Steinway and he’s recorded with an array of mics set up in a Norwegian church. There’s a pleasing ambience to the sound which is as clean as Grøvlen’s own fingerwork. He’s a thoughtful interpreter and unafraid to use the pedals (which András Schiff avoids in Bach keyboard works), while his ornamentation ripples and gives a fluidity to the musical line.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 11, 2017
This set by German saxophonist Weidner is just one of a growing number of titles available on highresaudio. com both in straight FLAC and also in MQA, more or less halving the file size. I also tried it with my Meridian Explorer 2 DAC into the system, and can confirm that the MQA process proves entirely transparent, the ‘folded’ version sounding just like the bulkier FLAC files. The music itself, played by Christian Weidner with his quartet partners Achim Kaufmann on piano, Henning Sieverts on bass, and Samuel Rohrer on drums, is either endlessly inventive or a series of squeaks and parps, depending on your view of the freer end of the jazz spectrum.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 06, 2015
Born in Paris in 1656, Marin Marais studied the viol under Sainte Colombe and worked under Lully in the court orchestra. He wrote over 800 pieces for viol, many in suite form and the Canadian oboist has transcribed six of those here. (The baroque oboe was first heard in a work by Lully a year after Marais was born and it quickly became very much in demand in France. ) The suites are typically in seven-movement form – Prélude, Courante, Sarabande, Menuet, etc – with a few concluding Gigues having descriptive titles: ‘La Chicane’, ‘La Badine’, ‘La Petite’.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2017
This set by Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle started life as a series of gigs back in late 2014, and while it’s somewhat alarming to discover that the two performers are now heading for their bus-passes – both have hit the big six-oh – there’s an easygoing rapport between the two on this upbeat set of mainly jointly penned tracks. What’s even more remarkable is the way the two voices mesh together in flawless harmonies: they just fit like they’ve been doing this all of their professional lives. Even the cover versions here – among them Jagger and Richards’s ‘Ruby Tuesday’ – bring a fresh perspective to the songs, and while the recording isn’t by any means state-of-the-art or demo-quality, having a decidedly rough edge to it, it’s hard not to enjoy the ‘let’s just get together and share some songs’ freshness about it. It’s an album that’s difficult not to like.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 20, 2017
The Texas-based choral ensemble Conspirare here performs musical director Craig Hella Johnson’s first major composition, a full-length concert piece about the murder of Matthew Shepard. A gay student at the University of Wyoming, in 1998 Shepard was kidnapped, beaten and left to die tied to fence in a field, his funeral later picketed by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. Drawing on Shepard’s own journals, contemporary sources and musical snippets from the Bach opening to ‘Frère Jacques’, the piece evokes the senselessness of the crime. In its scope, structure and power, this is a modern oratorio, albeit as grounded in country music as it is in the sacred tradition.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 06, 2015
96kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC/ALAC*, BMG/Chrysalis 538013154 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) This solo outing from award-winning composer Craig Armstrong was started when he was in Australia working on the music for the recent Baz Luhrmann remake of The Great Gatsby. Take all that on board, and you’ll probably have an inkling of what to expect from the generous 17 tracks that are on offer here,11 of which are instrumental – it sounds pretty much like film music, the songs having a distinct air of being rolled out to underpin the end titles of a movie.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 09, 2017
The title implies a haunted existence – by whom or by what we cannot tell from the imploring nature of this collection of often lengthy jazz instrumentals, some murky and meandering (‘Abandoned Reminder’, ‘The Great Silence’) and others quirky and upbeat (‘New Glory’). Taborn and crew tentatively explore a musical netherworld, here and there casting light into the shadows – ‘Ancient’, for example, opens with an extended, almost inarticulate bass solo, before other instruments reluctantly enter the fray. The repeated, intensifying figures near the end of this piece do achieve an intellectual resolution, if not an emotional one, while the sweetly mournful ‘Jamaican Farewell’ has the listless ambience of a sailing venture undertaken on a nearly windless morning. ‘Phantom Ratio’ follows a similar trajectory, while ‘The Shining One’ provides a bumpier ride.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Minneapolis-born keyboard player and composer Craig Taborn has worked with numerous musicians throughout his career, experimenting variously in electronic and acoustic settings. Chants sees him in a traditional acoustic jazz trio alongside bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver, the group’s first album release despite having collaborated for many years. It’s a challenging listen, the intense and dynamic improvisational performances demanding attention throughout. The title track, the delightful ‘In Chant’, displays a disciplined minimalism redolent of the experimental Splashgirl trio of Sweden, the composition’s intriguing melody weaving hypnotic patterns that keep you tantalisingly on edge.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Do you need to understand what’s being sung in order to enjoy a vocal performance? Clearly not, if the evidence of this set by German-Iranian vocalist Cymin Samawatie and her quartet is to be believed: listening to Phoenix I may have been missing some of the subtler nuances of the lyrics – well, all of them, actually – but treating the voice as an instrument proves quite rewarding when it’s as affecting as Samawatie’s. That’s particularly so in the first of two tracks from which the album takes its name, where she duets with Martin Stegner’s viola in especially striking manner. In fact, throughout this set the combination of Samawatie’s vocals and the mixture of jazz shapings and unfamiliar rhythms is highly involving, helped by the way this recording makes the slightest touch of stick on cymbal crystal clear and reveals instruments in sharp relief. AE Sound Quality: 83% Hi-Fi News Lab Report This 96kHz recording is accompanied by a significant level of spuriae (30-38kHz) also seen on ECM’s Jacob Young Forever Young [reviewed here].
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2017
Yes, that Cyndi Lauper – just in case you’d dismissed her as a novelty act after ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, here she is, now in her 60s, goin’ country. Yee-haw, and all that, with not a sign of newer Americana genres here, but instead a series of cover versions of tracks going back to the 1950s, supported by a roster of guest artists. This could so easily have turned into a mawkish set of near-parodies, and as camp as Christmas, but Lauper’s heart is clearly in the right place, and the recording has all the signs of being a labour of love throughout, both musically and in the quality of the recording. It’s just on the right side of being a novelty record, and duets with Willie Nelson (‘Night Life’) and Vince Gill (‘You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly’) work well enough; but the Alison Krauss harmonies blow Lauper out of the saddle on Dolly’s ‘Hard Candy Christmas’.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2016
This début album by Croatian-born but German-resident singer ?a?ija features what could only be described as an eclectic mix of music, from hip-hop influences to standards (some of them recorded live), but with one major unifying factor: the star, here front and centre before a band of anonymous musicians, has a damn fine set of pipes on him. He can cruise through Mingus’s ‘Strollin’’ with consummate ease, slam out the self-arranged ‘No Church In The Wild’ (which credits writers from Kanye West to Phil Manzanera and James Brown), and whip up the audience at the North Sea Jazz Festival with his take on ‘Lush Life’, one of three live tracks closing the album. He’s served well by recordings (again uncredited) fully able to reveal his timbres and techniques, to make a fine showcase for what is clearly a highly impressive voice and some great musicianship. AE Sound Quality: 80% Hi-Fi News Lab Report All tracks present as 88.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2015
The theme of this album is composers who found new lives in Hollywood, some but not all escaping from Germany in the 1930s. Korngold’s Violin Concerto is the longest work in selections, not exclusively for films, spanning from 1908 up to Schindler’s List and American Beauty. We hear themes from Casablanca, Ben Hur, El Cíd, et al, ‘Tränen in der Geige’ bringing relief from the general romantic wash. Max Raabe is good in ‘Speak Low’ and Daniel Hope’s friend Sting appears to swallow his mic in one arrangement.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 01, 2015
Daniel Hope and colleagues (the pianist is the wife of former Emerson Quartet cellist David Finckel) recorded this programme live at Lincoln Center in March ’15. Mahlerians will want primarily to hear the fragment composed in 1876, not well represented in the catalogue. But it’s rather repetitive and Mahler only found his true voice a few years later in the Klagende Lied. The Brahms (First) Piano Quartet is the one orchestrated by Schoenberg.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 27, 2018
A sequel to their demanding Adès/Nørgård/Abrahamsen ECM album [HFN Dec ’16], this is a self-produced, helpfully annotated 16-track collection of mainly Nordic folk music, arranged by the group and including a reel after Dowland, ‘Shine You No More’, by the leader, Rune Tonsgard Sørenson. To add textural variety, he also plays harmonium, piano and glockenspiel. And cellist/bass player Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin contributes three compositions, ‘Shore’, ‘Intermezzo’ – especially delightful – and the unwinding ‘Naja’s Waltz’ with pizzicato backing. The traditional pieces also include ‘Unst Boat Song’ from the Shetlands and the Faroese ‘Stædelil’.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 05, 2017
This is a programme for the adventurous listener: three works for string quartet all written when the composers were young (respectively 23, 20 and 21). Adès’s seven-movement Arcadiana has a lot of sliding up the notes with simultaneous pizzicati and bowing. This independence of the string parts it has in common with the 10 Preludes by the Danish composer Nørgård. He is of an earlier generation (born 1932) and in fact Hans Abrahamsen was a pupil of his.