Hi-Res Downloads, January 2021

hfnalbumRLPO/Vasily Petrenko
Rossini-Respighi: La Boutique Fantasque (Suite arr. Sargent); Stravinsky: Petrushka (1911 version) (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Onyx ONYX4192

Pair these two works together and the serious collector will immediately think 'Ernest Ansermet' – whose early 1950s Decca recordings set benchmarks rarely equalled. Petrenko too opts for the 1911 Petrushka scoring, and Onyx provides 14 tracks for this recording, done (like The Fantastic Toyshop) at the Philharmonic Hall back in late spring 2017. Producer Andrew Cornall, incidentally, recorded the complete Toyshop ballet with Richard Bonynge in 1982! Superbly played and conducted, with a wide range of dynamics changing in an instant, Petrushka is so vivid that you can 'see' the whole ballet, from the sensitive flute solo of the ballerina to the grumbling wild bears and the bustle of the fairground.The contrast with the amiable Toyshop, with its can-can and sentimental waltz makes an ideal 'wind down' sequel. CB

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
Recorded a month apart these genuine 96kHz renderings of two works both show some minor post-production spuriae at 38kHz but are otherwise very clean. Dynamic range is excellent with no peaks exceeding –0.3dBFs. PM


Don Gruisin
Out Of Thin Air (DSD64; 44.1-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.psaudio.com/products; Octave Records OCT 0001

The debut release from Octave Records, an offshoot of the PS Audio empire, this album comes in a variety of forms: a DSD/LPCM download bundle, vinyl LP, SACD/CD hybrid disc and DSD/PCM data disc. Recorded and mixed live in pianist Don Grusin's Moose Sound studio, the album comprises a set of relatively innocuous solo piano pieces, or what a friend described to me as 'an awful lot of noodling'. And that would be that, were it not for the fact that the recording is simply sensational, with perhaps the best piano sound I have heard: full of body and weight, sonority, space and air, and a very real sense of the instrument sitting before you with studio ambience intact. Which makes this something of a conundrum – not an album you'll be listening to repeatedly, as the music blurs into similarity as it rolls past the ears, it is a rather good way of assessing just what your system can do. AE

Sound Quality: 95%


Reviewed last month as the SACD/DVD bundle and here as a native DSD64 file [black trace] and 192kHz conversion. Both have sufficient bandwidth for piano but the LPCM file peaks 4-5dB higher (beware A/B comparisons). PM


Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt
Brahms: Symphony No 1; Tragic Overture (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Pentatone PTC5186850

Recorded live during autumn 2019 – with antiphonal violins and the first-movt repeat taken – this is the start of a new Leipzig Brahms Symphony cycle that promises a very different alternative to the revisionist Chailly/Decca set. At first I felt it rather fell between the two stools of classicism and romanticism – flexible phrasing in (i) and even hints of portamento in (ii), and none of Klemperer's granitic severity. But with familiarity (and you need to focus on what Blomstedt is giving us, rather than mentally recalling comparisons while listening) you hear a really beautifully played performance, the following Tragic Overture too. The sound is rather 'solid', perhaps an (unheard) audience present changing the acoustic, but no detail is lost. There's no applause included. CB

Sound Quality: 90%


Recorded post-Covid with mastering and release in mid-2020 this is a fine Pentatone offering and a true 96kHz/24-bit file, largely free of spuriae, that never peaks above –1dBFs. The ~48kHz bandwidth is fully occupied. PM


Philhofer Jazz Quartet
Full Circle (DSD64/128/256)
www.nativedsd.com; DMP CD-531

The story behind this 2001 set by German-born Herb Philhofer, who moved to the USA in the 1950s, is a simple one: having spent what he felt was far too long immersed in all the technology and trickery of the digital studio, he was itching to get back to basics and do what he did best – play his Bösendorfer piano. Hence this set, recorded by Tom Jung to DSD with a stripped-back band involving Philhofer's son Michael on drums, Steve Yaeger on vibes and Gordy Johnson on bass. Using simple mic set-ups, valve preamps and a mixer from Manley, the session has a wonderfully live and unforced sound, aided by Bob Ludwig's mastering. There's nothing flashy or 'over-produced' here, but rather accomplished musicians playing together and taking in a mixture of standards and other material, not least a version of Satie's delicate first Gymnopédie. It's a delight, from start to finish. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Captured in DSD64 via a Sonoma DSD multitrack recorder/editor, this file shows filtering of ultrasonic requantisation noise above 45kHz (no bad thing). There is some loss of bandwidth and dynamic range above ~28kHz, however. PM


Robert Dean Smith, Dame Sarah Connolly, Berlin Radio SO/Vladimir Jurowski
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Pentatone PTC5186760

In an Idagio video Iván Fischer describes Mahler's interests in pantheism and – more specifically – early Chinese poetry and music. And in this live recording of his 'song cycle/symphony' (given at the Berlin Phlharmonie in Oct '18) Jurowski brings out the individuality of scoring and Mahler's dabbling with the pentatonic scale to impressive effect. He also writes a lengthy personal introduction in the booklet. This is certainly a version to hear and it differs from the Bernstein, Klemperer or Walter versions in that the singers are less forwardly balanced – you lose some of the words, and in (i) as the tenor moves his head the image shifts distractingly. That said, to have the mezzo voice is a telling alternative to the contralto weight mostly heard elsewhere. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Our second Pentatone release this month is a genuine 96kHz/24-bit file offering excellent dynamic range, albeit peaking within 0.1dB of the digital end stops in the 1st movt. Some spuriae at ~28kHz but the ~48kHz bandwidth is fully used. PM