Hi-Res Downloads, March 2021

hfnalbumJoachim Eijlander
Dark Fire (DSD64/128/256/512; DXD)
www.nativedsd.com; TRPTK TTK0056

This album by cellist Eijlander is, like the Paper Motion set [HFN Feb '21], another TRPTK release, which means it's also heavily annotated when it comes to the equipment employed in the recording process – but it couldn't be much more different in style and approach. It's one of those 'musical cultures meet' projects, the cello being joined by guitar, piano, accordion and duduk. Yes, I had to look it up too: it's an Armenian double-reed woodwind instrument made from apricot wood. It's OK, you can thank me later. Anyway, the pieces here are unfamiliar, but both the performances and the recorded sound, placing the instruments in an atmospheric church acoustic, are really rather excellent, with Sulkhan Tsintsadze's '5 Pieces On Folk Themes' especially attractive in making use of the varied instrumental textures on offer. It's a slow-burner, to be sure, but one well worth exploring. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Supplied as FLACs, the DXD files are best unpacked to WAV before playback. The latter are normalised some 5-6dB higher than the DSD128 files [black trace], but both offer ample bandwidth to capture these acoustic instruments. PM


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Beethoven: The Symphonies (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; RCO Live 9029686533

Each Symphony here has a different conductor in characteristic live recordings dating from 1962 to 2003: No 1 David Zinman; 2 Leonard Bernstein; 3 Nikolaus Harnoncourt; 4 Herbert Blomstedt; 5 Mariss Jansons; 6 Roger Norrington; 7 Rafael Kubelík; 8 Philippe Herreweghe; 9 Antal Doráti. If you buy the CDs No 7 is with Carlos Kleiber (rights issues necessitating the change here) – but, anyway, he's well represented in live Sevenths and, albeit mono, it's good to have this rather glorious Kubelík alternative to his two DGs. Jansons apart, these are all guest appearances and styles vary from the traditional to the 'historically informed', the magnificent orchestra keeping up with some rapid speeds from Norrington. But turn to Jansons and Bernstein and there's a more palpable rapport. Zinman I found too slick and Harnoncourt's 'Eroica' unfathomable. CB

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
The 20kHz 'CD bandwidth' is sufficient to contain the range of the earliest 1962 (mono) analogue recording [No 7, black] but not, perhaps, the newer digital renderings. Signs of peak-level clipping in trks 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 26, 30 and 37. PM


Monty Alexander
Love You Madly – Live At Bubba's (DSD64/128/256/512; DXD)
www.nativedsd.com; 2xHD 2XHDRE1187

The more of these albums the 2xHD label uncovers, remasters and releases, the more you appreciate the work it's doing in letting us rediscover superb performances. These live recordings, taken from pianist Alexander's own collection and made in Aug '82 at a Florida 'Jazz Restaurant', were captured by engineer Mack Emerman, founder of Criteria Studios – home of many a big-selling recording. Here we find a tight little quartet featuring bassist Paul Berner, Duffy Jackson on drums and extra percussion from Robert Thomas, Jr performing a set that's both coolly relaxed and at times driving and spirited, generous in its 92min running time, exceptionally well-recorded and finely remastered. You really don't have to be a beard-stroking jazzer to enjoy this – an ear for a great recording of fine performances will do. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
With both DSD128 [black trace] and DXD masters derived from original analogue tapes it's the latter that defines both dynamic range and bandwidth. The DXD tracks peak ~6dB higher than via DSD, so choose whichever 'flavour' suits! PM


Sophia Loren, Russian National Orchestra/Kent Nagano
Prokofiev: Peter And The Wolf (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Pentatone PTC5186011

This is a download-only decoupling from the well intentioned but slight Wolf Tracks by Jean-Pascal Beintus, on the 2003 SACD aimed at children, with narrators Sophia Loren and Bill Clinton, and intros/outro by Mikhail Gorbachev. Highresaudio still lists the original – at higher resolution and with booklet too. Sophia Loren returned to filming recently with the acclaimed The Life Ahead; here she sounds genuinely interested in the project and her timing is eminently suited to small listeners. As the instruments are matched to the characters – the cat (clarinet) the obvious star here, the percussion clearly enjoying themselves – the orchestra is faded down, which is a pity. It seems their parts were done in sections to illustrate the texts, whereas Nagano's earlier Lyon version [Erato, deleted] had more musical continuity. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Trks 13 and 14 are offered as 48kHz files [green], while the other tracks look like upsamples from 44.1kHz [peak, red; RMS, blue]. Note also the 20kHz pilot tone on Sophia Loren's vocal track [black], latterly mixed into the ensemble. PM


David Gerrard, Ewan Robertson, The Choir Of Paisley Abbey/George Mcphee
A Celtic Prayer (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.prioryrecords.co.uk; PRCD1234

Priory specialises in church music and organ recordings. Its latest collection has contemporary Scottish pieces – five by McPhee, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Paisley since 1963; a setting by James MacMillan, Chosen, in tribute to him; and music by six other composers – and two 4m works by (15th century) Robert Johnson, choir alone. Texts and informative notes on the 17 tracks only come with the CD. We had these, but with the Abbey echo it was pointless trying to follow the words… Women's voices dominate the 25-strong choir. Ewan Robertson plays bass flute (strange timbres!) in three Donne settings by Edward McGuire. Organist David Gerrard is a specialist in early keyboard instruments. Stuart McRae's 'Adam Lay Ybounden' is the most musically interesting item here. CB

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
The 96kHz sample rate is well chosen to capture the harmonic span of organ and massed voices up to ~26kHz. Trks 5, 7, 9 and 17 are close to full scale at –0.2dBFs but the typical spectral peak-to-RMS of ~20dB suggests good dynamic range. PM