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High-Resolution Downloads to die for…

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I realize there are other threads covering e.g. sound quality. This is no more and no less a thread of recordings I would not want to live without (mostly because of their musical/interpretative virtues), records that I've owned in every available format virtually since I was born, and that I think are worth buying again (for the umpteenth time) as high-resolution downloads provided this download sounds as good or better than earlier releases/formats. Needless to say, 99.9% of my all-time favourite records are not available as high-resolution downloads (yet - there's always hope, isn't there?), which will keep this thread deplorably short - unless some of you care to add to it.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Available in 24/96. What my dad used to play for months and months when I was a kid, the record I'd take to HiFi stores when trying to decide on my first loudspeakers with my hard-earned flea-market money as a teenager - much to the chagrin of audiophile dealers who tried to compare the virtue of one pair of speakers over another, I invariably stormed out protesting not one sounded anything like my grandma's Steinway on which my sister was allowed to practice. It's the recording that made me start building loudspeakers, and thus made me embark on a seemingly never-ending audiophile journey.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Available as "24/96" Studio Master download. Maybe you remember when you first got into computer audio - which were the downloads you most feverishly browsed for, hoping they'd exist in some form or other? The quality of the music-making, the orchestra, the cast, the recording quality, everything seems to come together in this classic of the opera repertoire. One of those recordings that will make one smile, laugh out loud, weep, sing along off-key, jump about in joy, pull out a great bottle from one's wine cellar, or fall in love with the first floozy that crosses one's way, depending on how one is inclined…

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Charlie Haden/Antonio Forcione, Heartplay (Naim Label)

 

One of my earliest, and still one of the best. They (Charlie Haden, acoustic bass, and Antonio Forcione, acoustic guitar) are in the room with you.

http://www.naimlabel.com/recording-heartplay.aspx

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Upon closer inspection, it's almost impossible to pick a favourite for warhorses of this stature. Carlos Kleiber's recording of Beethoven's 5th may indeed be my favourite. Certainly from the stereo era. It's songful yet feverish, light where others tend to be heavy and woolly, and the forward drive and overall sweep is second to none.

 

I collect recordings, and would rather not be forced to pick a desert island favourite in the literal sense of the term. Maybe the scale would tip in favour of Furtwängler's 30 June 1943 Berlin live performance if that ever became available in anywhere near the same sound quality (which is going to take a technical miracle given it's a wartime monaural radio broadcast). Needless to say, there are other fine recordings (how could there not be, we're talking about Beethoven's 5th, after all), even in the stereo era (on a side note, someone out there should turn their mind on making the complete René Leibowitz cycle for Reader's Digest available as high-res download). On balance, this is "it", and has been for almost 40 years.

 

As to the 7th, I may have a slight preference for Carlos Kleiber's 1983 Amsterdam live performance, but again, this hardly matters in the context of recordings from the stereo era, let alone available high-resolution downloads. I know one audio critic who says the funeral march from the studio version is what he invariably wants to hear first on any stereo under review, and may be the last piece of music he wants to hear on his deathbed.

 

Just make sure to get the 24/96 "Studio Master" download and not the 24/88.2 downsampling from the upsampled DSD/SACD - the difference is noticeable!

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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I collect recordings, and would rather not be forced to pick a desert island favourite in the literal sense of the term.

 

 

?? LOL. You aren't "forced to pick" anything...you started the thread idea! :)

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Available as 24/96 "Studio Master". Critical consensus has it that Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's 1957 recording is pianistically the greatest Ravel's Piano Concerto is likely to receive - ever. From a purely musical/interpretive perspective I'd always want to have both in my collection. Samson François nails the wittiness, irony and sweetness of the piece, and who could conduct this repertoire better than André Cluytens, or sound any more French than the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra?

 

Plus it's coupled with one of the very finest recordings of Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (my favourite are Fleisher's, the earlier under Comissiona in particular, the old Casadesus deserves to be heard, as well as Katchen's entry - the first few notes that have made some critics wonder if perhaps he cheated using both hands).

 

More than decent sound quality, by the way, Samson François has never sounded better than in these 2011 remasterings (the same that served as a basis for the SACD release).

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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?? LOL. You aren't "forced to pick" anything...you started the thread idea! :)

 

What I mean, it's easy in the context of available high-res downloads (= at this point in time still a realistic proposition) - but it wouldn't be taken literally, i.e. being able to listen to just one interpretation for the rest of one's life. I for one love variety in interpretation - it's why I'm a record collector.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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I have many recordings of Thomas Tallis' blockbuster, and the interpretation by the Magnificat ensemble is my favourite one. The quality of Linn's studio master is remarkable.

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Available in 24/96. What my dad used to play for months and months when I was a kid, the record I'd take to HiFi stores when trying to decide on my first loudspeakers with my hard-earned flea-market money as a teenager - much to the chagrin of audiophile dealers who tried to compare the virtue of one pair of speakers over another, I invariably stormed out protesting not one sounded anything like my grandma's Steinway on which my sister was allowed to practice. It's the recording that made me start building loudspeakers, and thus made me embark on a seemingly never-ending audiophile journey.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

+1!!! I'll never get bored from this album

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I have many recordings of Thomas Tallis' blockbuster, and the interpretation by the Magnificat ensemble is my favourite one. The quality of Linn's studio master is remarkable.

 

Thanks for pointing me to this one! Will also investigate the Charlie Haden mentioned further above. Thanks guys!

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Thanks for pointing me to this one! Will also investigate the Charlie Haden mentioned further above. Thanks guys!

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

 

You are welcome. The high-resolution download is available directly from Linn's website (www.linnrecords.com).

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Available as 24/96 "Studio Master" download.

 

Rarely heard a recording in which massed strings sound so lifelike. The spatial projection is such that one might say, yes it's boxy, only it's a realistic box the size of a symphony hall. The winds have cut and sweetness to them (even if they sometimes sound a bit distant and/or veiled, which becomes the music well, however).

 

Ironically, this is one of the rare exceptions of a Previn recording I truly like. His interpretations tend to be bland, so it's tempting to quip his approach fits the musical content to a tee, when the truth is rather that Previn takes the music just for what it is, with the result that it'll make one swoon. No doubt the great sonics have much to do with it. Beautiful!

 

There are perhaps more "Russian" sounding recordings out there (as well as the fine Zinman recording on Telarc, thus far only available as CD), but none will make one sit through an hour of symphonic Rachmaninoff this easily.

 

Note also this is the full score, without the traditional cuts.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Available as 24/176.4 (alternatively 88.2) download. A DSD remastering using the dCS ADC, the download appears to be an integer downsampling of the SACD's DSD layer.

 

If this were a ranking list, Reiner's Scheherazade would have been closer to the top, but I'm adding as I'm browsing. An audiophile classic if there ever was one, not much to add. Asking wind players, they'll tell you the final movement being recorded in one take is a tour de force. Apparently Rimsky-Korsakov in his position as professor of composition, harmony and orchestration used this piece to incorporate just about all that springs to mind, and the result is a musical orgy of immense proportions. When well-performed it's also, quite simply, a story well-told.

 

I'm ever so slightly hesitant in recommending this download because in this particular instance, I very much happen to like the warmer, admittedly bass-heavy and less wide-band (possibly less neutral, more "coloured") XRCD remastering - although without access to the original master tape, we can only guess, the higher-resolution DSD remastering seems to bring out minor tape flaws, as well as putting emphasis where it doesn't belong, such as on distracting noises like conductor's/soloist's breathing. Perhaps the problem is that the DSD remastering presents us with what the master tape sounds like "naked", whereas the XRCD was produced by someone who may have had the sound of the (prohibitively expensive) original vinyl in mind.

 

Be that as it may, Fritz Reiner's Scheherazade belongs in everyone's collection. It's also one of those classical scores that will delight audiophiles that won't usually listen to classical music. It's an audiophile showpiece - just as Rimsky-Korsakov intended it.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Available as 24/176.4 (alternatively 88.2) download. The download appears to be an integer downsampling of the SACD's DSD layer.

 

Byron Janis's recording of the 3rd is my favourite from the stereo era for sure, and it profits from being one of Bob Fine's finest 35 mm Westrex film (versus half-inch tape) recordings, as well as the fact that the orchestra is the London Symphony (versus Dorati's comparatively provincial Minneapolis SO in the 2nd). Janis's 2nd is still one of the finest recordings from the stereo era as well (my favourite stereo recording is probably Julius Katchen's under Solti's helm, again with the LSO).

 

Among the fillers, note Janis's Prelude in C-Sharp Minor Op. 2 No. 3 isn't quite in Hofmann's or the great composer-pianist's own league, but very fine, too.

 

Rachmaninoff with virtuosity, colour and punch, highly enjoyable!

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Available as 24/176.4 (alternatively 88.2) download. The download appears to be an integer downsampling of the SACD's DSD layer.

 

I for one have always preferred the original piano score to Ravel's highly successful and popular orchestration (a greater orchestrator may never have lived). There are those who will maintain it is pointless to listen to any performance other than Sviatoslav Richter's 24 February 1958 live performance in Sofia, Bulgaria, which doesn't just come in "murky" sound as even Richter's most avid fans (and I'm certainly one of them) admit, the wow and flutter may drive even the most benign listener crazy (it's really an even greater problem for piano solo than e.g. symphonic music).

 

The sound quality of Janis's long-lost yet found-again recording is well-neigh incredible for its age (seriously, is anyone even able to tell this recording is over half a century old?). And there's an elegance and subtlety to the playing itself that, over the years, has made me wonder if this isn't, quite simply, my favourite interpretation of the score (having said that, Horowitz deserves a listen, too). Listen to e.g. the tender coloristic shading of those Ravel-like repeated notes - unforgettable.

 

The coupling or "filler", Dorati's 1959 recording of Ravel's orchestration, even if not in the league of Reiner or (perhaps my favourite) Ormandy, has been unjustly neglected by the critics (I think the Minneapolis SO makes the score sound aptly crude where it sometimes suffers from too much refinement) - but it's true it'll ultimately wet one's appetite for more.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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As a classical buff, you should be truly into SACD/DSD.

 

In Geneva there was a shop that sold Pentatone SACDs for CHF10- each, but most have gone. I know the Brahms Beaux Arts Trio from the 1950s went like hot cakes. He does have Praga Digitalis, Corviello(sp?) and one other SACD brand there...

 

As for rendering piano faithfully, the Heil (Air velocity transformer) driver is the best I heard, so far.

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As a classical buff, you should be truly into SACD/DSD.

 

In Geneva there was a shop that sold Pentatone SACDs for CHF10- each, but most have gone. I know the Brahms Beaux Arts Trio from the 1950s went like hot cakes. He does have Praga Digitalis, Corviello(sp?) and one other SACD brand there...

 

As for rendering piano faithfully, the Heil (Air velocity transformer) driver is the best I heard, so far.

 

Heil's Air Motion Transformer is a fascinating driver. The concept is really quite old, I've known it since I started building loudspeakers as a teenager. The real crux building loudspeakers is not (no longer) the availability of high-tech drivers, but achieving an overall coherent sound reproduction, that is, resonance-free frequency response, rise and settling time, time and phase linearity across the whole spectrum (ideally beyond). As far as integrating it into a concept taking into account all of the afore-mentioned, it is hardly surprising one rarely sees it applied using its full theoretical frequency response anymore. Also, whether or not the AMT is particularly suited to the reproduction of classical music is debatable. But we're digressing.

 

More in keeping with the thread subject, the problem of high-resolution formats, including SACD/DSD, is that literally, 99.9% of the music true "classical buffs" cherish, is unavailable in any such lofty format - as a matter of fact, much of it is unavailable in any format worth listening to.

 

My personally compiled list of classical recordings worth investigating (originally started as a "favourites" list for an inquisitive friend of mine) is currently 216 pages long (at roughly one entry per line, between 50'000 and 75'000 entries). It's depressing to see how little of it is available in any digital high-resolution format.

 

Also, I've yet to be convinced that DSD should be considered the ideal format. As one violin maker once told me, one must wonder why the industry keeps insisting on digital formats using 44.1 kS/s sample frequency multiples - a mystery understandably to anyone who spent a lifetime perfecting their secret varnish recipes trying to attenuate if not suppress "ugly-sounding" resonances and their dividers and multiples.

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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Aloha David,

 

I remembered I cried the first time I heard the Previn/Rachmaninoff 2, which was about 30 years ago. I borrowed the record from the library and it has been my favorite Rachmaninoff 2 since. I also like the Beethoven 5/Kleiber--in fact, I have the 24/88 download. But where did you get the 24/96 studio masters for both of these excellent recordings? Maybe they're not available in the US.

 

Thanks,

Nealsons


neals

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Previn Rach 2

I much prefer Previn's early 1980's Rach 2 with the Royal Phil on Telarc. The phrasing and rubato have a "sighing" effect that I love. Unfortunately it is early digital, so it cannot be improved by remastering.


Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer or Audirvana > exaSound e32 > Parasound JC-1 > Thiel 3.7

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Hyperion 67923 is a 24/96 recording of Schumann duos for different instruments with piano: oboe & piano; horn & piano; clarinet & piano; viola & piano.

 

Often these pieces are transcribed for other instruments, but these are the instruments for which Schumann originally wrote them.

 

My favorite is the Romances op 94 for oboe & piano, followed closely by the Fantasiestücke op 73 for clarinet & piano.

 

The performers are current members of the Nash Ensemble.


Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer or Audirvana > exaSound e32 > Parasound JC-1 > Thiel 3.7

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Berg piano sonata, op 1

On 2L label in various formats.

This recording enabled me to finally appreciate this piece!

Pianist is Tor Espen Aspaas, whom I'd never heard of before.

 

On the same album, available for FREE, is the first movement of Beethoven's last piano sonata, op 111, also in superb performance and sound. The second (final) movement did not impress me as much. For me it lacks the transcendence one hopes for in this piece.


Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer or Audirvana > exaSound e32 > Parasound JC-1 > Thiel 3.7

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Other favorites in high-res:

 

Bach violin concertos: Hahn, Kahane, Los Angeles Chamber Orch (DG)

 

Bartok violin sonatas: Ehnes, Armstrong (Chandos 24/96)

 

Bolcom, Serenata Notturna (Boston Symphony's own label)

 

Brahms horn trio: Neunecker (h), Weithaas (v), Avenhaus (p) (BIS)

 

Liszt “Years of Pilgrimmage”, complete: Lortie (Chandos)

 

Lutoslawski symphony 4: Gardner, BBC Sym (Chandos)

 

Mozart, String Trio, K 563: Frank Peter Zimmermann (v), Poltera © (BIS)

 

Nielsen string quartets 1 & 4 by Danish String Quartet (DaCapo)

 

Nielsen “Pan & Syrinx” by Dausgaard, Danish National Sym (DaCapo)

 

Prokofiev piano concerto 2: Bronfman, Gilbert, New York Phil (NYP’s private label on HDTracks)

 

Rachmaninoff cello sonata by Chaushian & Sudbin (BIS)

 

Ravel “Daphnis & Chloe”, Levine, Boston Sym (Boston Symphony's own label)

 

Sibelius symphony 4: Vanska, Minnesota (BIS)


Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer or Audirvana > exaSound e32 > Parasound JC-1 > Thiel 3.7

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