Hi-Res Downloads

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C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 11, 2016
96kHz/24-bit & 16-bit, FLAC, Harmonia Mundi HMC 902181. 82 (supplied by www. eclassical. com) For these 2013 Freiburg Ensemblehaus recordings of the seven keyboard concertos with strings – BWV1057 more familiar as the Fourth Brandenburg, BWV1054 and 1058 derived from violin concertos – Staier has chosen a modern copy of a 1734 Hass instrument.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 11, 2016
Sounding much more like a Pink Floyd album than last year’s ‘Endless Album’ of cutting-room sweepings [Endless River; reviewed here], David Gilmour’s first solo outing for almost a decade has all the familiar traits and musical clues to keep the faithful more than happy. There’s the soaring guitar, and little things like the title track fading out into steam-hammer-like industrial sounds. Similarly, the track ‘Faces Of Stone’ might well have come from any Floyd album you care to mention. And Mrs Gilmour, Polly Samson, can write perfectly Floydesque lyrics! With exemplary production and sound, and a guest roster encompassing David Crosby and Graham Nash, Robert Wyatt and Jools Holland, this is just what you might expect from David Gilmour as he approaches the ripe age of 70 – although some might suggest that’s both its greatest strength and its major weakness.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2016
As with their Dvorák series with the Czech PO, Faust/Melnikov/Queyras are coupling a chamber work with a concerto – this time with a period-instrument orchestra. For the Schumann Concerto, Melnikov has elected to play a robust 1837 Érard; then an 1847 Streicher in the Trio – with more body than the one heard in their Trio No 3 [HMC 902196]. Clear and open, this is an attractive recording, with some subtle detailing mostly from Faust. The Concerto is more unsettling.
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.
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.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2016
So, why Space Squid? Drummer/composer Bill Stewart says ‘I like the sound of the title and I am slightly fascinated with squid and octopus. They can also be delicious’. With that out of the way it’s also worth knowing that, according to German label Pirouet, he ‘reaches for the sky and plumbs the depths with a group of like-minded musical explorers’. Hmmm… Joined here by Seamus Blake on sax, Bill Carrothers on piano and bassist Ben Street, and recorded at Sear Sound in New York, Stewart serves up ten original tracks, closing with a downbeat take on ‘Dancing In The Dark’.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 12, 2016
Kaufmann and Puccini – how could anyone resist, when his vocal artistry is so complete? He floats a line with infinite care then expands dynamics to meet every theatrical demand. Terrific warm backing from Pappano too. And the production adds variety by changing vocal perspectives for soloists and chorus – occasionally, though, I found Kaufmann almost too forward and spread. Every Puccini opera is represented with these arias except, of course, the all-female Suor Angelica.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
As the highly variable sound quality makes clear, this album is a sort of travelogue/travel blog by Polish saxophonist Piotrowski. The essence of the album is inspired by the various musicians Piotrowski has met on his travels while building his One World Orchestra project and ‘leaving their messages on tape’. Trouble is, the whole ‘world music’ thing has rather been done to a turn by now, and what were once startling sounds from unfamiliar parts of the world are now well-known. Frankly, I’m not sure the whole new age ‘sax and ethnic’ concept sounds anything more than rather tired these days.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
Calling your début duo album Juvenile might seem like asking for critical trouble, but in the case of this lovely inventive set by pianist Böhm and guitarist Scholly it seems more self-deprecating, such maturity do both performers display. With instruments stripped down and exposed, and no rhythm section for support, they nevertheless weave intriguing sonic pictures. Not only does this set offer demonstration-quality sound throughout, it also captivates with the endlessly inventive handling of the eight original tracks and one cover – a beautifullyre-sketched ‘Georgia On My Mind’ – and the way the two seamlessly swap the roles of soloist and accompanist within tracks, showing masterful interplay and understanding. On the surface it may seem like ‘audiophile jazz’, but give it the attention it deserves and this unusual album is likely to become a firm favourite.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
Recorded in 1973 for BASF, and for a long time one of those unavailable and therefore sought-after albums, this studio set may not see Pass at his flamboyant best, but it comes up fresh in this DSD release. It’s a rather laid-back set by the guitarist, backed by bass player Eberhard Weber and Kenny Clare on drums, meaning this collection, mainly of standards, is in pretty safe hands. However, there are flashes of the famous Pass style, notably in the improvised ‘Joe’s Blues’ and a samba’d-up take on the perennial ‘Ode To Billy Joe’, and while the version of ‘Stompin’ At The Savoy’ here may not be the stompiest you’ll ever hear, there’s still much to enjoy. The balance is much as you’d expect, with Pass’s guitar prominent, but there’s also fine extension and definition in the bass and drums, making this a cleanly recorded, if not actually challenging, set.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
48kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC/ALAC, naimcd198 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) Those most familiar with Sabina Sciubba’s breathy vocals on the well-known Meet Me In London set with Antonio Forcione [HFN Apr ’12] are in for a surprise: on this solo album the voice is harder-edged, and the whole concept reminiscent of everyone from Nico to Marianne Faithfull. From the off, this is an album designed to grab the attention with the impact of its sound, which is hard-hitting in a lo-fi way, with everything from thin, vintage-sounding vocals to hard-working percussion, all of which can sound catchy at times, and just plain annoying at others.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 03, 2015
48kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC/ALAC*, naimcd215 (supplied by www. naimlabel. com) Any compilation album from a label’s roster of artists is always going to be as much a grab-bag as an introduction to what’s on offer, and that’s certainly true of this package – despite the title, very far from the Naim Label’s first such selection. As editor PM notes in his brief lab report below, that also makes for a variety of sources for the recordings, from CD to true 48kHz/24-bit, but more striking is the jolts of musical style, as Neil Cowley’s cinematic, percussive piano trio jazz gives way to Sabina’s Left Bank oddness, and then the soulful sound of label stalwarts Phantom Limb or the calculated grunge of Huey And The New Yorkers.
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)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Now here’s a download to divide the jazz purists. On this album Sheppard’s Trio Libero set-up of bassist Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford is joined by Elvind Aarest on ‘guitar and electronics’, suffusing much of the music here with underlying drones and washes of sound, in a kind of ‘jazz meets ambient’ mixture. It’s a tribute to both the (typically ECM) quality of the recording and the ability of all the musicians that this doesn’t just become a mush of sound, although those more used to hearing their traditional jazz combos crisp and clean may find the amalgam somewhat less than satisfying. That’s especially so on a track like ‘Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir’, where the electronic layers often threaten to rise up and overwhelm the acoustic instruments, but to these ears the combination is both intriguing and highly effective.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Many young soloists have made their debut recordings in one or other of these works. Arabella Steinbacher – whom we associate more with 20th century concertos – says she’s never previously felt the need to record either until she began working with Charles Dutoit (there’s a 2009 Tchaikovsky video from Tokyo on YouTube). The problem is that she tends to slow the music to show off her beautifully cultivated sounds with the 1716 Stradivarius, although Dutoit could hardly be more accommodating. So I much prefer his 1983 Decca CD coupling with Kyung-Wha Chung, whose playing is utterly selfless (and the Mendelssohn finale has an elfin lightness).

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