Hi-Res Downloads, July 2020

hfnalbumRoger Eno & Brian Eno
Mixing Colours (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Deutsche Grammophon 483 777 1

A collaboration between the Eno brothers, in a sequence of what can only be called 'tone poems' evoking various hues. Sounds pretentious? Well, the result is much more successful than one might have dreaded. It's a mix of past experiments in ambient music, with compositions mainly by Eno R produced and processed by Eno B, giving the whole project a sound that's at times relaxing, at others slightly unsettling. You find simple layers of instrumenting complementing and layering over each other. So it's hardly 'get the party started' stuff, but in what one seems to have to call 'the current situation' I found it both calming and worthy of repeated listens. New details emerge each time from the beautifully judged sound here, so whatever may be colouring your mood right now, the light and shade with Mixing Colours might be just the tonic you need. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
This is a 44.1kHz/24-bit file and so while bandwidth is necessarily restricted to ~20kHz there's potentially more dynamic range than CD. In practice the range is good (peak-to-RMS typ. 17dB) but some clipped samples on trk3 [black trace]. PM


VPO/Herbert Von Karajan
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Decca 485 0869

Recorded at the Sofiensaal in September 1961 and produced by John Culshaw, this remains the most enjoyable of Karajan's four recordings of the Nutcracker excerpts – Philharmonia 1952, Berlin 1966/82 (this last a rather unpleasant sounding digital remake). Remastered, it comes as a 'bargain' download at £6.40 and, out of interest, I compared the sound with a WAV rip from the 1995 CD transfer. The new version is marginally more open and set back, smoother – the 'Russian Dance' no longer edgy – with correspondingly more pinpointing of instruments, eg, celesta in 'Sugar-Plum Fairy'. There was always plenty of stereo information in this recording – and you might pick up occasional imperfect ensemble. But less welcome are minuscule silences at the ends of tracks and, 54s into the 'Waltz of the Flowers', what sounds like a new edit in the harp writing. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
With peak levels varying from a low –8dBFs (Russian Dance) to a very low –20dBFs (Arabian Dance), this is a very 'quiet' analogue-to-digital remastering, but dynamic range is still good. However, much above 20kHz is purely noise. PM


Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela
Rejoice (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; World Circuit WCD094

If ever there was an album with an appropriate title, this exuberant set, bringing together Nigerian trumpeter Allen and the late trumpet great Masekela is it. Recorded in 2010, decades after the two were introduced by Fela Kuti, the sessions were produced by Nick Gold, who was responsible for the Buena Vista Social Club's rise to fame, but the tapes sat unfinished until Masekela's death in 2018. Working with his estate, Tony Allen and Nick Gold got together last year in the same London studios where the original recordings were made, bringing in extra musicians to complete the project. The result is a cracker, with fabulous sound and musicianship, not to mention sheer joy, and it really swings. If all you know of Masekela is endless repeats of 'Stimela' at hi-fi shows, this jazzy, boppy set is a fine place to start a further exploration. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded hot (–0.4dBFs) there's certainly a great deal of energy in this 96kHz rendering even if much of the ultrasonic content looks to be distortion from the trumpet and percussion feeds, or compressors/limiters downstream. Still fun though! PM


The Garden Of Eve (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.qobuz.com; MPS 0214360MS1

What you might not be expecting here is not just a tribute to the blues, but a superb album in its own right. Recorded 'as live' – that's to say in performances, not mixing-desk assemblies – it has a vitality and freshness about it that's highly attractive. What rough edges there are to the sound only add to that sense of immediacy, so this is not a piece of buffed-up audiophilia, but rather an album with real guts, soul and spirit. You feel that right from the opening track, 'Hope', which was released ahead of the album at the end of last year. Malia's voice is attractive and powerful, and the musicians assembled here are of high quality and real grit. You know what? This might go on to be a firm demo choice, even though it's so much better than that. In a world of overproduced, compressed and 'commercial' albums, The Garden Of Eve has a very welcome authenticity to it. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
While the bandwidth (response) of this 48kHz file is only slightly beyond that of CD at ~22kHz, the digital rendering is free of clipping (max –0.3dBFs) while the peak-to-RMS range is typically around 12dB. Nothing untoward here. PM


Mona Asuka
Mozart: Piano Works (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Hänssler Classic HC19082

Mona Asuka Ott is a Munich-born German-Japanese artist who made her concert debut in 2004 aged 13 – she's the younger sister of the better-known pianist Alice Sara Ott. Her first studio CD was on the Oehms label in 2007 (Liszt and Schubert), while here she plays – on a 1928 Bechstein – the 'Paris' Sonatas in A-minor, K310, and in F, K322; K545 in C; the A-minor Rondo, K511; and the Minuet in G, written when Mozart was about five. Perhaps it was unfortunate that the recital starts with the 'Sonate facile' (K545) where the playing is neat and all the repeats are properly observed, but that's about all. The Rondo, which Claudio Arrau saw as a deeply tragic piece, is much the same. Asuka is at her best in the scampering finale of K322; but in K310 if you go to Lars Vogt [HFN Nov '19] a world of colour, light and shade opens out – very different from the narrow view here. CB

Sound Quality: 70%


Lab Report
Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered at Digital Natural Sound in Piding, Germany, this is a clean rendering with more than enough bandwidth (~45kHz in theory, but only 30kHz used here) to capture the ~12kHz range of the vintage piano. PM