Hi-Res Downloads

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J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
This collection of chilled-out country/folk songs by the curiously-named June In The Fields duo of composer Jean-Michel Renaud (guitar/vocal) and singer Mélissa Brouillette hails from Canada’s Fidelio Musique audiophile label. Visit a hi-fi show in North America and you might bump into recording engineer René LaFlamme – who runs Fidelio Musique in Montreal – demonstrating his recordings promoted with the tag line: ‘We capture the feeling…’. This is an intimate set, the duo accompanied on tracks such as ‘Andaman Sea’ and ‘Summer Road’ by Sebastien Saliceti on double-bass to flesh out the sparse arrangements. The vocals in particular have been beautifully captured by LaFlamme’s all-tube mic and preamplifier set-up to produce a ‘charming’ sound that’s exceedingly cosy and seductive, if a tad lacking air and space.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
192kHz/24-bit FLAC, CKD 424 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) Why would you wish to forgo orchestral strings and the pairs of oboes and horns of the orginal scores for these three concertos from 1783/4? Mozart himself sanctioned just strings ‘a quattro’ as in this new recording, produced at Potton Hall, Suffolk, in May 2012. The Viennese pianist plays a Steinway D in this, his third programme for Linn Records, and provides the booklet notes; his supporting string players are all equally young.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
In this mid-2012 Brahms recording from the reverberant Lukaskirche, Dresden, Batiashvili is playing the Stradivarius owned by Joachim. She doesn’t play his familiar first-movt cadenza, however, but – like Isabelle Faust on Harmonia Mundi last year – the one by Busoni which has timpanist and orchestral strings joining in. The three Romances Op. 22 are by Schumann’s sister Clara (Joachim was again the dedicatee); these are airy and gracious pieces, and the violinist is nicely partnered by Ott.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
HRA has recently started offering Harmonia Mundi recordings as downloads (at low prices too). This particular programme – a recent classical Album Choice [HFN Jan ’14] – was made in May ’12 at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios only at 44. 1kHz resolution. Does this (24-bit) download offer a sonic gain? I thought there was a discernible difference: switching from an iMac/Audirvana/MF V-Link192/DAC to preamp chain to CD player/preamp brought a thicker, flatter sound.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
96kHz/192kHz/24-bit AIFF/ALAC/FLAC/WAV, Chesky Records (supplied by www. hdtracks. com) David Chesky is committed to fostering music education in young children and composed The Zephrytine as a fantasy ballet. The booklet PDF includes the narrative – in which a young boy meets a magical creature and travels to a utopian world where people are of all colours and ice cream grows on trees – along with vibrant illustrations by artist Ângela Vieira.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
It’s an unlikely pairing in anyone’s book: Billie Joe Armstrong, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of Californian punk band Green Day, teamed up with indie jazz/pop princess Norah Jones. Their Foreverly collaboration is a reinterpretation of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, a 1958 Everly Brothers’ album of traditional country songs. Foreverly was released four weeks before Christmas: I doubt they ever imagined it might serve as something of a valedictory to Phil Everly, who sadly passed away on January 3rd at the age of 74. It’s a charmingly playful recreation of the Everly’s rootsy ballads famously characterised by closely entwined vocal harmonies, Jones’ honeyed and breathy vocal quality marrying surprisingly well with Armstrong’s more aggressive, nasal style.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Stephanie Proot is a young Belgian pianist who trained in Antwerp, Paris and Brussels and attended various masterclasses – Bashkirov, Fleischer, Goode, et al – and has won several competition awards. She makes her debut plunging in at the deep end with Beethoven’s early F major, the two ‘quasi fantasia’ sonatas (the second the ‘Moonlight’) and – a brave try – the late A-flat. Recording in a dry Ghent studio, she plays a Yamaha Grand: it has decent presence but the album is sonically unremarkable. Proot has the necessary technical competence but not as yet the musical phrasing insights shown in the first recordings of Grimaud, Pires or Uchida, and her playing is somewhat mechanical.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Minneapolis-born keyboard player and composer Craig Taborn has worked with numerous musicians throughout his career, experimenting variously in electronic and acoustic settings. Chants sees him in a traditional acoustic jazz trio alongside bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver, the group’s first album release despite having collaborated for many years. It’s a challenging listen, the intense and dynamic improvisational performances demanding attention throughout. The title track, the delightful ‘In Chant’, displays a disciplined minimalism redolent of the experimental Splashgirl trio of Sweden, the composition’s intriguing melody weaving hypnotic patterns that keep you tantalisingly on edge.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
96KHZ/24-BIT ALAC/FLAC/WAV, Polydor Records 531 825-2 (supplied by www. hdtracks. com) Slowhand needs no introduction to rockers above a certain age, since it contains three of Clapton’s best-known signature songs: ‘Lay Down Sally’, ‘Wonderful Tonight’ and his perennial cover of JJ Cale’s ‘Cocaine’. Moreover the album’s other songs are far from just fillers.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
Steve Earle’s 15th release, featuring his cracking road band The Dukes (& Duchesses), was produced in collaboration with his ‘Twang Trust’ production partner Ray Kennedy. His fans couldn’t possibly be disappointed by the outcome, as the vitality and virtuosity of the band is abundant throughout the album’s 12 songs. Earle does what he always does best: tells world-weary stories that amuse, frustrate and infuriate in equal measure. It was recorded in one of the largest and most revered studio spaces in Nashville, the historic RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studios built in 1964 by Chet Atkins and acquired by Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five fame) in 2003.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2014
192kHz/24-bit FLAC/ALAC, Linn Records CKD 432 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) This second Linn album by the young Japanese artist Kuniko Kato comprises arrangements, mostly for marimba, of well-known minimalist pieces by Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt. She also plays a solo work by Hywell Davies, Purl Ground, premiered by Kuniko at Cheltenham in 2011.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2014
The trio’s first full-length album from 1990 is delightfully presented despite the sampling issues (below), whether Cole’s preparatory throat-clearing on opener ‘My Foolish Heart’ or the fine ‘live to two-track’ mix which leaves Ms Cole’s vocal thrillingly tactile, warmed by only the lightest of reverb. Her team is terrific – it takes confidence to barrel-bang the keys as Aaron Davis does on ‘Girl Talk’ and to vamp so sympathetically as on ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ (this immediacy is well worth the occasional fluff and vocal pop). And on the slower numbers his softly recorded piano augmentations slide into synchronicity with David Piltch on bass, whose own spotlight comes when slam-dunking the dem-room delight of ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ and giving good wood for Smokey Robinson’s ‘Cruisin’’, with a sax solo from John Johnson. A tight trio tackled with integrity.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2014
192kHz/24-bit FLAC/ALAC, Linn Records CKD 430 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) The two hunting horns played by Anneke Scott and Joseph Walters make a glorious noise at the start of Concerto 1, and their duo in 1(v), 6m 25s-7m 27s, is as clean as a whisker. Similarly, 4(iii) seemingly holds no terrors for trumpeter David Blackadder.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2014
A new reissue of Oldfield’s fifth album from 1982, which saw him less prog, more folk and pop, along with Vocoder and Fairlight CMI moments aplenty, the marvels of their day. Newcomers may be surprised to encounter Hall & Oates hit ‘Family Man’, but it’s Oldfield’s song and this is where it first appeared – ably sung by Maggie Reilly, though less so on the bonus live set from Cologne. These 1982 live tracks (8-15) hardly merit the 24/96 treatment, though include a fine ‘Tubular Bells Pt 1’, and show how the multiple personalities of the 24-minute ‘Taurus II’ combined less incongruously in its live arrangement than in the studio, where it spasms between splices of jazz-rock, fusion and ye olde Robin Hood music. Note that the physical 2CD version comes with a DVD of surround mixes and 12-minutes of video.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2014
Authentically Norwegian as Torvik and trio may be, Tranquil Fjord commences just as you might fear, the opening title track plinking a New Age path into a gentle guitar-led arrangement, meandering slowly through shallows rather regimented in their quantisation, and underlain by an intrusively full-width soundstage granted to the percussion of Hermund Nygård – close-miked snare brushes lent distracting prominence. These two qualities, forward percussion and ‘swinglessness’, continue even on speedier pieces such as ‘Kryssande’ and ‘Land Veg Helm’, bass and guitar each lacking a fully resolved space in either soundstage or equalisation, all three performers instead firing from the same place. When Torvik gives his guitar synth a few directionless refrains at the close of ‘Endelaus Veg’, it encapsulates the general meaninglessness of it all. JF Sound Quality: 70% Hi-Fi News Lab Report Unlike the ‘96kHz’ Mike Oldfield: Five Miles Out download (reviewed here) the limited ~20kHz bandwidth of this 24-bit recording is perfectly in keeping with its claimed 44.

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