Hi-Res Downloads, August 2021

hfnalbumManna Lucia Richter, Bamberg Symphoniker/Jakub Hruša
Mahler: Symphony No 4 (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Accentus Music ACC30532

We had a highly individual Mahler 9 with the Bamberg Orchestra under veteran conductor Herbert Blomstedt [HFN Nov '19]. He was then almost 91, whereas their current chief conductor, Jacub Hrůša, is this year a mere 40. Trained in Prague he first came to the orchestra in 2015. As shown in the extensive PDF booklet, the players at the July 2020 sessions (producer Jan Smaczny) were spaced across the extended Konzerthall platform with a marginal reduction in string forces. The orchestra is given a quite distant balance, the vocalist centred in the finale – where her pitch accuracy impresses, although expressively her singing becomes properly interesting in the final section. Hrůša's reading is remarkable: the scherzo has never sounded so charmingly rustic, the retuned fiddle gradually tempered, while the slow movement suggests both innocence and inwardness. CB

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
This is a genuine 96kHz/24-bit rendering offering excellent dynamic range (a peak-to-mean of 23dB in 'III. Ruhevoll') and no hint of overload. Effective bandwidth is ~40kHz but ultrasonic noise is very low and spurious tones mercifully absent. PM


Daniel Murray, Marilyn Mazur & Michala Petri
Brazilian Landscapes (DSD64-512; DXD/24-bit)
www.nativedsd.com; Our Recordings 6220618

Just how obscure do you want your recordings? A set of Brazilian music for recorder, percussion and guitar would seem to fit the bill. But forget any ideas of the wind instrument you heard in primary school, for in the hands of Michala Petri it takes on an almost ethereal sound on the opening 'Sonhos' before bursting into life with the captivating rhythms of 'Jongo', setting the pattern for the folky, bouncy pace of the album as a whole. And while the engineering task would seem simple enough here – after all, it is just recorder, guitar and percussion – the team of Mikkel Nymand and Preben Iwan, recording not in Brazil but Copenhagen, has done a fine job balancing the delicate woodwind and guitar with the occasionally exuberant percussion, giving the whole enterprise a sense of intimacy and joy. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded in DXD (352.8kHz/32-bit), analogue noise is quite high and while the recorder is 'clean' to ~22kHz [blue, RMS, red, peak] there's evidence of (ADC?) clipping on the percussion feed [black]. DSD128 file [green] has +5.8dB gain. PM


Martin Stadtfeld
Piano Songbook – Arrangements And Miniatures (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Sony Classical G010004446521J

This is an out of the ordinary programme comprising 20 short pieces freely arranged from secular and sacred work extracts – Bach, Beethoven, Dvořák, Handel, Purcell, Schumann, et al – followed by ten 'Piano Songs' by the German pianist. These bear genre titles: chorale, canon, lullaby, march, etc, and are he says 'simple' and suited to the amateur pianist. Stadtfeldt has a substantial Sony discography and in this Aug '20 SWR Studio production he plays a Steinway. I'd wager that the piece purchasers will be playing to friends is the 'Nature Song' – Beethoven's 'Pastoral' theme with birds – an absolute charmer! The 'Folk Song' after Dvořák is another winner. The sequence is carefully composed with contrasts, eg, the Purcell 'Lamento', then a rumbustious 'Eroica' track, then Mozart's stately Zauberflöte March. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
While the practical ~22kHz bandwidth offered by a 48kHz sample rate is sufficient to capture the harmonic range of a piano, it looks as if the native rate was higher (possibly even DSD) and the commercial offering a downsample. PM


The Eye Of Time
Acoustic II (44.1kHz/16-bit, FLAC)
www.denovali.com; Denovali DEN347

Just occasionally when I'm playing music for these pages, a passing listener brings me up short with a pithy comment. In this case, just six words did the trick: 'It's a bit "Glassy", isn't it?'. She had a point – this album of music by French soloist Marc Euvrie, who plays piano and cello here, betrays a minimalism in its repeating motifs, which is hardly surprising as he quotes both Philip Glass and Michael Nyman as influences. The set is based on a tour he undertook a few years ago with just an upright piano and his cello, now recorded using a grand piano and his cello drones, created using loops and taps on the body of the instrument. This is a relaxed, contemplative set with the two instruments both well-recorded and given space to breathe, making it very easy to immerse yourself in the soundscape and just drift away in the flow of the performances. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
CD/16-bit encoding? Yes, but this is more than sufficient when the dynamic range is set by analogue noise at –90dB. Piano occupies the first 10kHz of this file's ~21kHz bandwidth [peak, red; RMS, blue] with cello boosting 10-20kHz [black]. PM


Ryland Angel & David Merrill
Chant Electronique (48kHz/24-bit, WAV)
www.hdtracks.com; Chesky Records JD469

The sleeve notes for this set by British singer Ryland Angel and producer David Merrill begin a bit like the trailer for a disaster movie: 'In a time where the world is in a unified state of unprecedented chaos', they say, '2020 has plunged humanity to ponder some of life's most important questions and triggered some of the most unpredictable of coping mechanisms'. Well, Angel's response was to chant and record a psalm a day, here produced remotely by Merrill with the addition of washes of analogue synthesiser. Gone 'Hmmm…' yet? Well, no need to, as this is a remarkable-sounding album, with the voice of Ryland captured gloriously, and the lush textures of the electronics adding to the ambience of the whole project. Not sure I'd go so far as the sleeve notes' assertion that Covid has no chance against collaborations like this, but it's a very affecting project. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded to within –0.2dBFs of peak this file has a moderate dynamic range, but while the synths have a sub-20kHz range the voices might have benefited from a higher sample rate. Note 22kHz alias on some tracks [black]. PM