Hi-Res Downloads (January 2019)

hfnalbum.pngRoberto Prosseda, Residentie Orkest The Hague/Jan Willem de Vriend
Mendelssohn: Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2; Rondò Brillant; Overture The Hebrides (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Decca (Italy) 481 7207

The Italian pianist made his 2009 debut (with Chailly) in Mendelssohn's incomplete Third Piano Concerto and went on to record all of the solo piano works for Decca – this programme with the Hague orchestra and its principal conductor was recorded in Sep '17. It ends with a terrific account of the Hebrides Overture: stormily atmospheric and assertive in the march-like tune (c.10m). In the Concertos and Rondò Prosseda makes fine musical sense of Mendelssohn's rapid figuration and is expressive when the music relaxes. He's set a little forward but not excessively so and the general hall sound is rich and detailed. There's no Decca booklet included by HRA but this may be found elsewhere, with downloads to 352kHz/DSD256; amazon.uk has the import CD. CB

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
This is a clean 96kHz rendering and while the keyboards only occupy the lower 10kHz of its bandwidth, the violas and cellos fill up to 25kHz and the fanfares of trumpets and horns have harmonics that reach out across the full 40kHz. PM


Lotta-Maria Saksa
You're The Cream In My Coffee (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Acoustic Music 319 1588 2

Here's a genuine curiosity: an album of mainly '20s and '30s music, in arrangements taken from pianola (player piano) rolls scanned by enthusiasts keen to preserve them and then saved as MIDI files for posterity. Finnish guitarist and teacher Saksa took to those files as a means of expanding her interest in the music of the period, and they're here presented as a set of acoustic guitar duets, with the artist playing both parts via studio overdubs. The result is as simple, charming and inconsequential as all the above suggests, the music passing by in perfectly pleasant manner, with really only the immaculate close-up recording meriting any real comment. The only real problem here – and I'm not sure whether this is down to the player piano arrangements or the performances – is that it all sounds a bit samey, and so just slips by. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
There's more than adequate dynamic range in this 96kHz recording despite levels of noise varying slightly from track to track [trk 4 in black, above]. Variations likely stem from the overdubbing of each solo guitar to yield the 'duets'. PM


Connie Han
Crime Zone (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Mack Avenue Records MAC1140

It just goes to show you should never judge a book – or indeed an album – by its cover: seeing Ms Han in all her leather-clad glory on the front of Crime Zone, I'm not sure what I was expecting – perhaps I've heard too many albums by committed, but unimpressive, Asian vocalists. I was wrong on all counts. Han is a precociously talented jazz pianist in her early 20s and, while she may sometimes slip into favouring sheer attack over subtlety, has produced a set of (mainly self-written) tunes to grab, and hold, the attention. Ably backed by drummer Bill Wyaske, who influenced her percussive style, and bassist Edwin Livingston, Han plays with no shortage of attitude, but has the musical ability to back it all up. Slip-ups in the digital offering notwithstanding, the sound is rich, dynamic and superbly detailed and serves her talents and obvious panache very well. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recording details for Han's 'edgy jazz' debut are thin on the ground, but while this download will certainly register as '96kHz' on your rendering software/DAC, tracks 3 and 5 [black spectrum] are evidently upsampled from 44.1kHz. PM


Calidore String Quartet
Resilience (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Signum SIGCD551

The young Los Angeles-founded group has chosen four string quartets here all triggered by personal anguish or upheaval, none of them offering comfortable listening: Mendelssohn's Op.80 (begun when his sister Fanny's sudden death occurred); Janáček's No 1, the 'Kreutzer Sonata' (after Tolstoy's novella – Janáček was himself in an unresolved love-tangle); Prokofiev's No 2 (when the Soviets under threat from German invasion moved him away from Moscow in 1941); and Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov. This 2000 piece contrasts his young son's innocence against the brutal conflict in Israel – slides and tremolandi here. A co-production with BBC Radio 3, Resilience was recorded in the Alpheton New Maltings studio with the four strings close-mic'd. Best played, I'd say, in reverse order, although the commitment and expertise are never in doubt. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Sensitively recorded with plenty of fresh air between 0dBFs and the most enthusiastic segments (inc. the final coda), the harmonics of the two violins sail out over 40kHz of this 96kHz recording's available bandwidth. PM


Greta Van Fleet
Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Lava/Republic Records 00602567964438

Not content with appearing to be named after a truck rental company's advertising slogan – Greta Van Fleet is the band, not a person – this family-based outfit from Michigan has excelled itself with an album of toe-curling, irony-free awfulness. One might charitably say they're an unholy mash-up of Led Zep instrumental posturing and a falsetto vocalist who would dearly love to be Percy, or even Geddy Lee, but they're really not that good. Yet on they plough, leaving no mythological cliché unstoned, through wild lands, dark skies, smoke, ice and snow – their total, jaw-dropping seriousness recalling another car rental slogan: 'Drive smug'. If this was a parody of '70s pomp-rock, performed with some wit, it would be funny – unfortunately it's none of the above, sounds horrid, is as pretentious as its title, and yet has topped the US album charts. Go figure. AE

Sound Quality: 65%


Lab Report
There's nothing especially 'peaceful' about Greta Van Fleet's 'Army' as their melee tickles the digital end-stops, taxing the clipping behaviour of your DAC. Also, this does not look like a native 88.2kHz file, but upsampled from 44.1kHz. PM