Hi-Res Downloads, October 2018

hfnalbum.pngBasel CO/Giovanni Antonini
Haydn: Symphonies Nos 3, 26, 30, 79 (88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Alpha ALPHA678

Subtitled 'Lamentatione' this album download comes with a 54-page PDF booklet populated with relevant b/w Magnum photographs – a classy affair. It's the sixth volume in a period instrument cycle shared with Antonini's Il Giardino Armonico [see HFN Sep '16, p92 for Decca's similar project under Ottavio Dantone]. Symphony No 26 in D-minor, the 'Lamentatione', is thought to contain an imagined conversation between God and a sinner for the Adagio (whereas Haydn mostly thought in terms of pure music). It contrasts with the C major 'Alleluia', while No 79 unusually boasts five movements. Symphony No 3 (c.1762) boasts a fugal finale alla breve. The playing is throughout superb and the sound beautifully balanced with an appreciable ambience from a hall within the city's Landgasthof Riehen. There's a 180g vinyl option too. CB

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
The vibrancy of the massed strings is instantly visible here in the burst of harmonics from the Minuet, Symp No 3, though the notch and reflection at 28kHz looks unusual. Otherwise it's an 88.2kHz file with good dynamic range. PM


Collagically Speaking (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.highresaudio.com; Blue Note Records 675543 1

To get the confusing name out of the way first, the name of Robert Glasper's jazz supergroup stands for 'reflect and respond now'. But don't let that kind of high concept put you off: this is a collective of highly-accomplished musicians playing tracks drifting between the ambient soundscape school of thought and more direct jazz styles. That means just when you are sinking into the wash of sound, something emerges to catch the ear, from guest vocalists to hard-hitting acid styles. 'Awake To You' is all trippy beats and processed vocals, sliding into the drum-driven 'By Design', and just when you think you've got a handle on what the album is all about, it's able to throw you a curveball courtesy of the flexibility of the musicians and guest appearances. All this dense complexity is well-served by a full, rich and punchy sound. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded into the 0dBFs endstops, this 'avantgarde jazz' set will have the 96kHz LED pulsing on your DAC but spectral analysis suggests it's a 48kHz upsample, albeit a clean one! Trks 10 and 11 also show in-band tones [black trace]. PM


Tia Fuller
Diamond Cut (88.2kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; Mack Avenue Records MAC1127

The look of this album is straight down the line, with an uncompromising shot of Tia Fuller staring down the camera, and that kind of prepares you for the sound of this set by the saxophonist/bandleader/college professor. From Beyoncé's band to her full-time academic gig, Fuller still finds the opportunity to make her own music, and does so here with a sparkling array of supporting musicians. Some tracks find her backed by Dave Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, others with James Genus and Bill Stewart filling those respective roles. The sound is crisp and clean, and puts Fuller's instrument centre stage with a detailed view of its tonality. Yes, the opening brio of 'In The Trenches' may initially seem to flag into more easy-listening territory, but the pace – and inventiveness – soon pick up again, making this a great listen. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Ultrasonic noise varies from track to track but is typically higher than average [see Graph] while there's evidence of 44.1kHz content on trk 12. Recording level is also high and there are signs of downstream limiting/distortion. PM


Angela Hewitt
Beethoven Piano Sonatas Opp.27:1, 31:2, 79, 109 (96Hz/24-bit, FLAC/ALAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68199

Angela Hewitt once told me how delighted she was to play on Wilhelm Kempff's old Steinway in Munich – although for this varied programme she's chosen a Fazioli grand, recording in the Berlin Jesus-Christus-Kirche and providing a detailed booklet history and analysis, noting performance difficulties. It's Vol 7 in her sonata cycle: works dating from 1801-20, starting with 'The Tempest', where Beethoven introduces recitatives, and ending in the E major, when his late works for pianoforte embraced variation form. Hewitt reminds me here of the old Gieseking recording in its clarity and calm as (iii) develops. She is at her very best in the finale of Op.27, and perhaps least effective in that of Op.79. There's a certain plainness to her Beethoven there, especially if you know the classic Backhaus Decca LP. But overall a fairly rewarding set. CB

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
This is a very clean recording issued by Hyperion with system (not tape) noise 100dB below the peaks of piano [see Graph]. This is a 96kHz rendering but the 48kHz bandwidth on offer is barely tickled by the piano's ~15kHz range. PM


Ray Lamontagne
Part Of The Light (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.highresaudio.com; RCA 19075-83789-2

Long ago, when there were record shops everywhere from high streets to market stalls, it wasn't unknown to take a chance on a discounted album just on the look of the cover or half-recognition of the artist's name. After all, for a quid what could go wrong? Trouble is, far too often one ended up with something like this latest release from Ray LaMontagne, with its fusion of – well, almost everything, from wispy ballads to screaming rockers, never quite gelling into a recognisable whole of an album. The sound here is at turns simple and detailed, then dense and almost a bit trippy, with the only constant being the singer's slightly raspy vocal. The songwriting ranges from hints of mystical prog to ponderous 'big themes' in tracks such as 'No Answer Arrives'. 'All of us asking the questions and yet no answer arrives.' It all feels – and sounds – terribly old-fashioned. AE

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
While no information was available on the recording of this album, the high-ish noise and ~30kHz bandwidth occupied by guitars, synth and percussion suggest analogue tape, then digitised. Sadly, we can see signs of clipped samples. PM