What's spinning February 2022

This is an album that I play almost daily. I think that she has a wonderful voice.
It’s remarkable that she is able to perform music at all, considering her serious accident in 2003.

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This a very recent release. Qobuz 24/192.

For those who are fans of the Viola da Gamba, the SQ is excellent, with a lovely rich sound. Expertly performed, with enthusiasm (her breathing is clearly audible).

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Few of us here are classical music fans so few such recommendations appear in the “What’s Spinning” threads ( thanks Jonathan for the Bach above).

Here is something that I consider remarkable and , perhaps, might turn on some newcomers to this genre.

This is a brand new recording of several of Ravel’s orchestral pieces. Ravel was a composer with an unusually consistent output of the very highest quality of music and this recording contains several masterpieces in both my and better informed opinions.

Further , for audiophiles, Ravel was a great orchestrator ( think of his famous orchestration of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”). He has an incredible aptitude in this skill and I can only describe these orchestrations of what, in many cases, started as solo piano pieces as having a kind of musical Technicolour quality, so appropriate in compositions such as Ma mere L’Oye which induces mental images of illustrations of fairly tales from our childhood books.

I have some slight reservations about the recording quality of the first track " La Valse", a form of satire on the glittering fin de siecle Vienna and the rest of Europe in the light of the succeeding devastation of the Great War. Otherwise still a terrific performance. Thereon this recording is of the highest Chandos standard - what Hi-FI News used to call " demonstration quality". I have certainly been able to confirm that my upper frequency hearing is still pretty good considering my age.

The conductor, John Wilson, is one of the most talented around these days and his orchestra, the Sinfonia of London, is basically a recording band made up of the finest players hand picked by Wilson. Throughout the standard of playing is eye wateringly superb. Just listen to e.g. the horns or woodwind in Pavane Pour Une Enfant Defunct. Further what is a bit of a cliche of a piece " Bolero" is heard for the first time in its original ballet score where every instrument as it is added across the near quarter of an hour performance adds lustre and reveals the piece in a new and positive light. . No solo side drum with a spotlit microphone as in so many lesser recordings. Forget Dudley Moore and “10” ( though if, like him, you want to make love to it I am not going to stop you :smile:).

I have been listening to the hi-res 24/96 version via Qobuz but bought a download from them and, frankly, the small additional sound quality it gives adds much more than could be expected.

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Thanks, Pete — very kind of you to take the time! — I will give this a good listen tomorrow.

Thanks for the tip on the new Ravel disc. I will check it out. In heavy rotation…

Fine performance and excellent sound.

and a personal favourite. Antoine Tamestit playing (arguably) the rarest viola in the world - the 1672 ‘Mahler’ Strad in an all Telemann programme. Strad violas are rare and this is the only one built on the broader pattern.

Thanks Pete. I will definitely have a listen.

In the meantime, this is another excellent Channel Classics recording, expertly performed.

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Thanks for this suggestion!
It is fascinating to listen to this recording today (sparked by your suggestion), just after I played my favourite recording of these Cello Suites by János Starker last Sunday. That recording is 55 years old and, while completely different in interpretation and recording style, maybe even more liked by me than this modern high-quality recording.
I’m probably charmed more by the intimate recording and formalistic performance of Starker compared to the ambient sound and more romantic interpretation of Boulanger.

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Coincidentally, I played this János Starker recording from my library last Sunday.
I agree that ‘ancient’ recordings can often be more enjoyable than modern day high resolution ones, especially in the case of Mercury Living Presence recordings (as mentioned recently by @PAR, and showcased by dCS on their youtube channel)

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Thank you all, I’m so very happy we are talking music more.

:musical_note::smiley::notes:

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Thanks again Pete. I thoroughly enjoyed this. The Qobuz download is remarkably good value at £6.49

I was inspired to revisit my library and play this Ravel album.

Yes, this is a fabulous recording of Daphnis & Chloe which I place in a similar league to the classic Monteux and Munch versions.

I am a big fan of Francois -Xavier Roth and Les Siecles whom i have seen in London a couple of times and wish that they came to visit more often. M. Roth is a conductor who, aside from his superb musical accomplishments, manages to create the most warm relationship with the audience. I recall the encore to one of the concerts which was him singing a Daft Punk song! As well as this band which is his own period instrument orchestra he is a conductor with several modern instrument orchestras as well, like the London Symphony where he is appointed Principle Guest Conductor. There is a great Debussy and Ravel recording featuring this combination on the LSO Live label.

All of the Les Siecles discs are made up from recordings of live concerts at different venues. I was at one of them for Ravel Ma mere 'L’Oye etc. ( also on Harmonia Mundi) and it was fascinating to see that they employed a Decca Tree set up placed at the rear of the orchestra to preserve sight lines for the audience. Incidentally during Ma mere they had one of the top French graphic artists on stage who illustrated the fairy tales live on a computer with the images projected on a big screen. Elegant and beautiful if a bit distracting.

I can only advise hearing as many of their discs of French ( or historically related like the Stravinsky ballets) music as you can find.

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Thanks for the insight, and for sharing your experiences. Monsieur Roth is clearly quite a character (Daft Punk?!) as well as being hugely gifted!

Coincidentally, this is only other of his albums in my library, so I shall definitely explore his other recordings.

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Thanks for the Bartok recommendation. In fact I had already saved this on my favourites in Qobuz as the other work on the album the Concerto for Orchestra was part of BBC Radio 3 's weekly exhaustive review of all available recordings of a single work " Building a Library". This is part of Saturday morning’s( UK time) programme " Record Review".

As the final library choice the reviewer picked the classic recording by Frtiz Reiner and the CSO . Of course an immaculate decision but she was so impressed by the Maikki as well recording that I had to hear it.

I have to agree with her enthusiasm for the Concerto and echo it for the performance of Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta. Great fire and commitment with a superlative recording from BIS.

One of my personal favourite works and the first piece of truly 20th century music I became a ware of at the age of 19 when a guy I worked with during a summer vacation job lent me the Ozawa /BSO recording. So I was hearing Music for Strings etc. back to back with Abbey Road !

BTW, I have promised elsewhere to post a comparison of the SACD and recently remastered LP versions of the Mercury Living Presence Firebird by today. Sorry it has been delayed by my deciding to rehear both versions fully again ( glad that I did as it resolved a few confused ideas in my head). So tomorrow or Saturday. Please accept my apologies.

Boxer Rebellion - Ocean by Ocean

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Isak Danielson - Yours

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This Concerto is one of my all time favourites. And this interpretation closest to my heart. The combination of Ashkenazy and Haitink makes for a magical combination of warm and bright, precise and romantic in a seemingly perfect balance.

Just listen to that brilliant timing of the fading of the orchestra and the first few notes of the piano when Ashkenazy starts playing in the 3rd part of this Concerto.

I once set out to compare 21 different recordings of this Concerto (the joy of streaming services) but couldn’t find one that I could enjoy as much as this one. Although recording quality wise there are better options out there…

Could anyone here recommend a recording of this 2nd Piano Concerto of Brahms that I should absolutely give a try?

I enjoy this one with Nelson Freire.

If you want a shock to the system, try this one with Andras Shiff

I asked earlier in another thread if anyone is interested in a comparison of the SACD of the Mercury Living Presence Firebird ( Stravinsky). I had a couple of positive responses so I am posting it here as it is a bit off topic for the original thread.

The reason for this choice is that the SACD was made using dCS ADC converters. I suggest listening to the three dCS sponsored “ Trust Your Ears” podcasts if you have not already. These are part of the celebration of 70 years of the label for which the son of the recording engineer and Music Director ( Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart Fine respectively), Tom Fine, has remastered the remaining Mercury Living Presence catalogue. 5 of the titles have also been recut for LP at Abbey Road using their half speed mastering lathe. Firebird is one of these and is the one which Tom Fine seems to be particularly proud of.

I realised quickly that a true comparison cannot be made as that would only be possible if the media themselves were the only variables. They cannot be as it is not possible for the signal path from each to be identical. So these are really more in the nature of anecdotal remarks about listening to the two.

I am not going to make any detailed comment about the music or performance other than to say that this is a good performance albeit one that does not quite achieve the catharsis that I ideally seek in the finale.

My first impression for both SACD and LP was just how incredible the sound still is for a recording made nearly 63 years ago. Having owned the SACD since its release in 2004 means that I have previously listened to it via the dCS Elgar 4 box stack and the dCS Paganini 4 box stack. Neither experience produced the memorable sound I found via my Rossini Transport/Vivaldi stack. A marker for how far dCS have progressed over the decades.

SACD Notes

Open and natural sound. Convincing depth in both in terms of frequency response and stereo placement which is really three dimensiona and provides a convincing picutrie of a symphony orchestra. A great sense of transparency. Wonderful dynamics that impress. However in some forte passages brass sound can sound somewhat over bright and strings given a slight but unnatural hardness.

LP Notes

The only classical LP I have ever bought with, effectively, a “Play Loud” instruction (takes me back to my original copy of “Sticky Fingers”).

In so many ways the overall sound resembles that of the SACD . However the sense of transparency is even greater and the three dimensional image somewhat deeper. The brightness and/or hardness in forte passages is no longer apparent. Amazing dynamics overall for an LP. There are certainly moments of “ I didn’t even know that was possible”. However this has to be balanced against one unfixable issue with LPs – the effective velocity of the groove reduces as the disc is tracked towards the centre. This results is a diminution of the impact of the two huge cymbal crashes immediately before the finale when the villain of the ballet dies and his evil works disappear. SACD for this element without a doubt. Worse than this though is the other unavoidable fact of LPs. This is a ballet score that runs continuously for 40+ minutes. You cannot cut 40 minutes of a dynamically wide ranging stereo recording on a single side of an LP. So it is necessary to impose a break in the music to change to side 2. A really unartistic necessity.
Side 2 of the disc initially seemed less open but this is because it seems to have been cut at a slightly lower level to encompass some of the big dynamic shifts in the latter part of the score. A slight touch of the volume control restored things. There was also some minor and occasional low level noise on side 2. A lifetime of experience suggests that this particular type of noise is not a pressing fault but probably has more to do with the plating process or even with the original cutting lacquer. I would therefore expect other copies to be the same. Otherwise an immaculate pressing from Optimal.

One major difference SACD v. LP is that the LP is simply more beautiful to listen to – the real meaning of “audiophile”. That may be the LP per se or an artefact of the superb Ortofon Windfeld ti cartridge and all tube two box Icon Audio PS3 Special Edition phonostage that I use.It is all almost certainly less accurate than the SACD but conversely aesthetically more pleasing. I am not one of the “ I want warts and all, irrespective whether it sounds worse, it is more accurate” brigade. That attitude strikes me as like eating only raw food.

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Many thanks for the suggestions!

I have this one on vinyl, but haven’t played for a long time. Will spin it up this weekend!

This was a fascinating read, Pete. Thank you :pray:

Especially interesting for me was something I’d never thought of:

However this has to be balanced against one unfixable issue with LPs – the effective velocity of the groove reduces as the disc is tracked towards the centre.

So interesting!

Also…TURN IT UP! :stuck_out_tongue:

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