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  • Immersive and Stereo Musical Gems - TRPTK Edition, Part 2



    Audio: Listen to this article.



    In Part 1 I touched on the TRPTK label, its dedication to great music and great quality, and three of my favorite albums. In Part 2, my journey into the TRPTK catalog continues with three more favorites that have captivated me of late. I liste to the following albums in Dolby Atmos on my 7.1.4 music-only audio system. No screens allowed in my listening room, ever. The albums are also available in other immersive formats, high resolution stereo PCM, DSD, and even SACD. Let's dig in.



    The Music, Part 2


    Jonatan Alvarado & Jessica Denys - Voces de Bronce (TrueHD Atmos)

    TRPTK01.jpgThere's nothing like my favorite Argentinian music. Wait, what? I'm joking, but in the best way. This is another recording and style of music that I'd have never listened to in stereo, even through I should've. I took a chance on the immersive version and it grabbed ahold of me from the opening notes. Somehow the TRPTK team has managed to put the listener simultaneously inside Galaxy Studios, in Mol, Belgium and in Argentina, during Carlos Gardel's and Jose Razzano’s 1913 visit to the town of Mercedes.


    The opening track, Amargura (El Floridense), is 3:30 of pure beauty. Jonatan Alvarado's voice, his Francisco Nuñez guitar from the early 1900s, and Jessica Denys with her Francisco Rebasti guitar from 1921 are all magical. Listening to this track, it should be easy to understand how I was sucked into the album immediately. Alvarado's voice is so smooth, his delivery so emotional, and the recording captures the air around the studio so well, it's as if the listener is seriously right there with the musicians. 


    Most audiophiles will wonder how such "simple" music, with two musicians and two guitars, can be appropriately mixed for immersive audio. I don't blame them for thinking that way, I was once in that camp. TRPTK's Brendon Heinst recorded this album at DSD256 in a 7.1.4 channel configuration. It was immersive from the beginning, and it really shows. There is an absolute perfect amount of musical information in the surround and height channels for this type of music. Sure, this is subjective. A case could be made to put the instruments in a more adventurous immersive placement, but I love the way Voces de Bronce was recorded and mixed. It just feels like real life. 


    Other absolute gems include track 3. Estilo Criollo Op.8 No. 4, track 4. Gorjeos (La Mariposa), and track 8. El Alma Del Payador. Yes, every track on this album is special, but we all have favorites. Four tracks, featuring guest vocalists, should also not be missed. Tracks 7 and 14 feature Sophia Patsi, while tracks 15 and 19 feature Juan Vizán. On track 14 Patsi and Alvarado sing together and it's glorious how well their voices compliment each other. 


    Overall, this album has me very interested in more Argentinian music, more music from Jonatan Alvarado and Jessica Denys, and even more from TRPTK. 

    Link to stereo | link to immersive



    Rembrandt Frerichs - Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 (TrueHD Atmos)


    TRPTK02.jpgSwitching musical locations from Argentina to Netherlands, and to the contemporary classical genre, I highly recommend the TRPTK album Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 by pianist and composer Rembrandt Frerichs. This is a dynamic album that's adventurous, up and down like a hilly countryside, full of great musicianship, and a spacious immersive mix. 


    Track 1 opens a bit like the unmistakable music from the movie Jaws, with low end piano supplemented by the eerie string section of the Alma Quartet. It lightens up and opens up toward the end of its 3:38 run, before transitioning into Frerichs's beautiful piano playing in track 2. This track as sneaky dynamics that are very impressive on an audio system capable of reproducing high dynamic range. 


    I love this entire album for Frerichs beautiful compositions, playing, sound quality, and the immersive mix. If I had to pick a single track that I enjoy most, it would be track 3, Piano Concerto No. 1: Bohemia Theme. This track has all the emotions. It starts with a flowery piano, slides into a darker scene as the Alma Quartet takes the lead, then back to Frerichs' piano with its open airiness and some gentle percussion that was recorded very well, before finally finishing with everyone getting in on the action in a very dynamic sequence. The drums and percussion on this track steal the show for me. 


    The final four tracks, Piano Concerto No. 2, are a bit more esoteric than the first eight tracks, but excellent in their own way. All are energetic, fun to listen to, and sound superb.

    Link to stereo | link to immersive


    Pieter van Loenen & Tobias Borsboom - The Silence Between (TrueHD Atmos)


    TTK0058-scaled.jpgThe quote that kicked off this album concept for Pieter van Loenen and Tobias Borsboom is, "The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between them." I love that quote, so I was "in" from the beginning. The first four Stravinsky tracks however don't have much silence between the notes. These pieces are energetic and filled with van Loenen and Borsboom feeding off each other to create a unique interpretation. In typical TRPTK fashion, the sound is amazing right from the start. Pieter van Loenen's violin sounds stunning throughout, as does Borsboom's Steinway Model D Concert Grand.


    Music that's more my style, begins with the emotional Distance de Fee from composer Toru Takemitsu. I love the way van Loenen takes the listeners through the piece, with his delicate violin playing. When Tobias Borsboom fills in on the Steinway, he makes it sound absolutely huge, alternating between really hammering on the keys and gently pressing on them, creating a soft sound that moved me to the edge of my listening chair. As if I wanted more than he was giving, in the best way possible. 


    Track six is short and sweet, but also lovely. The 2:36, Claude Debussy, Jascha Heifetz arranged, track named Beau Soir. Every time I listen to this one, I want it to go on forever. It's just beautiful music.


    The album wraps with three pieces composed by Francis Poulenc, Violin Sonata FP 119. Track 9 is an energetic and frantic piece, with great musicianship. The sound fills my immersive space with the reverb of the studio at Westvestkerk, Schiedam in Netherlands. 


    More my style is the softer track 10, Intermezzo. I love the delicacy of both van Loenen's violin and Borsboom's playing of the Concert Grand. This TRPTK recording enables the listener to hear more into each instrument, the layers, the harmonics, and even the musicians themselves. This track has a wonderful flow and it's as if both players are skating around a rink in a delicate dance only inches apart. Each one anticipates their other's moves and compliments them gracefully with his own playing. 


    The entire album is full of ups and downs and has been an enjoyable listen each time I've played it from start to finish. The immersive mix on this one seems a little more tame than the other TRPTK mixes, but is still top notch. 

    Link to stereo | link to immersive


    TRPTK Wrap Up


    TRPTK is quite the label for stereo, surround, and immersive recordings. It's great that most, if not all, of the stereo albums are available to stream for those who want to taste the music before biting off the entire purchase. I encourage everyone to reward great musicians and engineers by purchasing the downloads if possible. TRPTK is one of very few labels offering so many format options and at such high quality. I await the release of the next album, Mattias Spee's Eclipse, Vol. 2: Hans Henkemans. I've listened to Vol. 1 and can't get enough.  




    Note: NativeDSD has a nice sale on TRPTK albums right now (LINK)

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    Can someone explain why NativeDSD does not appear to have spatial audio mixes available when they are listed in TRPTKs web shop?

    FYI, the NativeDSD sale ends today CET.  




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    Thanks for posting your thoughts on TRPTK.  I am a long time consumer of Brendon's work.  I have not tried ATMOS recordings as  I prefer 5.0 surround.  My most recent purchase is Mattias Spee's "Eclipse, Vol. 2: Hans Henkemans".  It is a superb album and I particularly enjoyed the concerto.  My download is DXD 352.8/32 (WAV format).


    Another new release is "Into Eternity".  The first three tracks are extremely emotional and sad.  See track two on YouTube: The Letter of Vilma Grunwald (Into Eternity).  Track four changes direction to delightful chamber/jazz fusion music.  This is a powerful performance.  Again, I downloaded the album in DXD 352.8/32 (WAV format).


    I now download direct from TRPTK.  Last year, Brendon discussed a complete revamping of his recording/mastering process to get even more sonic improvements: Lower Resolution, Better Sound Quality?.  Essentially, he records in DSD 256 and masters in DXD 352.8/64.  I think his new process works.  Brendon promises to remaster older performances using this new process.  He has already done so with "Eclipse, Vol. 1".  This is a free download if you previously downloaded the album from TRPTK.


    I'd like to add another star recording/mastering engineer Bert van der Wolf.  I download direct from his revamped website: The Spirit of the Turtle.  He also offers ATMOS versions of albums (and binaural for headset users).  Since I love solo piano music, my newest downloads are Hannes Minnaar's Shostakovich: 24 Preludes & Fugues, Op. 87 (2 DISCS Download) and Hannes Minnaar: Goldberg Variations (2 DISCS Download).  Fantastic recordings.


    We are so blessed to have such dedicated professionals who strive to produce such high quality recordings.



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