Hi-Res Downloads, February 2023

hfnalbumMette Henriette
Drifting (44.1kHz/16-bit, WAV)
www.ecmrecords.com; ECM Records ECM 2766

This second release from Sámi-Norwegian composer and saxophonist Mette Henriette Martedatter Rølvåg is produced by Manfred Eichner and has that haunting, super-detailed 'ECM sound' combined with achingly realistic instrumental timbres. Building on her acclaimed self-titled ECM debut of 2015 – the first time any artist had launched with a double album on the label – Henriette here joins forces with pianist Johan Lindvall and cellist Judith Hamann to create something she describes as 'in movement: it's on its way somewhere and has its own pace – its creative agency is fundamentally different from what I've done previously'. The result is a wonderfully calm, atmospheric and beautifully recorded album with a distinctly Nordic feel. These short pieces – the exception being the six-minute-plus 'Oversoar' – fuse together to form a lush, restful soundscape that's perfect for a chilly evening. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Peaks vary from as low as –23dB to as high as –2dB, the latter still comfortably short of the 0dBFs ceiling. The anti-alias filtering is both gentle and yet sufficient to eliminate artefacts. Piano has enough bandwidth, the sax slightly less so. PM


Alina Ibragimova
Telemann Fantasias For Solo Violin (96-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68384

No one could accuse Telemann's 12 Fantasias of being under-recorded: these works, often put alongside Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for the same instrument, have been played by many a famous violinist, including Ibragimova herself. But what she brings to this recital, apart from the wonderful tone of her 1570 Amati instrument, is an avoidance of the tendency to make these works Bach-like. Instead, the soloist goes for a distinctly Telemann tone: sprightly, almost dancing, and with a warmth and radiance to the playing that's hard not to like, reflecting the fact that the pieces were written for the enthusiast musician rather than with the concert platform in mind. Adding to the allure is another typically fine Hyperion recording, here made in London's Henry Wood Hall, which adds its own ambience. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Tested in its highest 192kHz 'Studio Master' guise, this rendering offers the widest dynamic range of the albums here and yet not one of its 40 tracks exceeds –5dBFs. The ~58kHz spuriae are untidy but of no subjective consequence. PM


Manfred Honeck/Pittsburgh SO
Beethoven Symphony No 6 & Stucky, Silent Spring (96kHz-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC; DXD; DSD64-512)*
www.nativedsd.com; Fresh!/Reference Recordings FR-747

Does the world really need another Beethoven's 6th? Hasn't the Pastoral been done to death from its recorded repertoire to its use as screen music? Conductor Honeck clearly believes it still has more to give in this live release, part of his complete Beethoven Symphony cycle with the Pittsburgh orchestra, captured in that city's Heinz Hall by the Reference Recordings team using a mixture of omnidirectional and spot microphones. Recording direct to DSD256, they've captured a fast-paced, slightly unorthodox performance – listen out for the orchestra's gently stamping feet in the third movement's 'Peasant Dance' – but one that lives up to the name of the Fresh! label on which it appears. Add in Steven Stucky's ominous Silent Spring, with its dramatic closing 'Fade To Black', and you have a truly thrilling recording. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded in DSD256, with production in DXD, the ~48kHz bandwidth would suggest the file also spent time at 96kHz [DXD, red/blue traces]. The DSD conversion [black] peaks ~5dB lower but has the same usable bandwidth. PM


Vince Mendoza/Metropole Orkest
Olympians (44.1kHz/16-bit, WAV)
www.vincemendoza.net; www.mo.nl; BMG/Modern Recordings

To a great extent, composer Mendoza set out his orchestral jazz stall with his 1999 recording Epiphany, with no less than the London Symphony Orchestra, but just in case you're already running screaming at the thought of an orchestra playing jazz, take a listen to this new set. You see, Mendoza doesn't start with jazz and then bolt on the chaps and chapesses in evening dress, but rather treats all the sounds of the musical forces as part of the composition. Principally recorded in the famous Hilversum studios, but with performances inserted from locations in the USA – including Dianne Reeves contributing the vocal on 'Esperanto' – and two tracks captured live in Amsterdam, Olympians creates a big, bold sound picture with bags of instrumental detail and a real swing. The effect is just like a really tight small jazz ensemble – but written on a grand scale. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Produced by Vince Mendoza, all nine tracks are normalised to full scale (0dBFs) which may cause clipping in some DACs. Otherwise this rendering shows very sharp anti-aliasing and is free of obvious downstream distortion or spuriae. PM


Art Ensemble Of Chicago
The Sixth Decade – From Paris To Paris (44.1kHz/16-bit, WAV)
roguart.com; RogueArt ROG-0123

Recorded live at the Festival Sons d'hiver in Paris, this set by the improvisational jazz/classical group covers all the bases from traditional roots jazz styles to choral music and experimental multi-instrumental pieces. Not for the uninitiated, it's definitely art music with a capital 'A', from the soaring, almost liturgical voices of the opening 'Leola' to the brass drones and spiky interjections of 'Introduction To Cards', while the sequence beginning with 'Ritual – Great Black Music' takes the sound back to its African roots. At times the musical styles are somewhat difficult – deliberately so, perhaps – but there's no shortage of fascination in the multiple instruments, the spoken word, and the shifting sands of this excellent live sound. It's an acquired taste, but still a rewarding listen if you're willing to let your ears work a bit! AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Most tracks are normalised within ~1dB of full scale (to not overload some DAC chips) and while dynamic range is as good as achieved by most 24-bit files, bandwidth is necessarily limited by the 'CD' sampling. Stopband is 'clean'. PM