Stepping off the Merry-go-round May 19 by Bill Dodd in Dodd's DSD Discoveries

Last year I praised the album of works by “Herbert Howells” performed by Gloriae Dei Cantores which I find myself returning to quite often. This time I’d like to spotlight another set by this wonderful ensemble: “The Chants of the Holy Spirit”. The set opens and concludes with the sound of the bells at the gorgeous Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts, where this recording was made. Many “chant” albums have gained public attention over the years, but this one is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. Some recordings sound a bit too “rustic”, others are too operatic. But this one seems absolutely “right” to me. Even if you’re not a fan of Gregorian Chant, I think you will find this set uplifting and relaxing at the same time. And listening with headphones is even more transporting. Particularly in troubling times, there is a welcome peacefulness in these recordings.


GDCD057

 

Chants Of The Holy Spirit

 

GloriÆ Dei Cantores Women’s Schola

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

 

This next discovery, “America Again,” is from pianist Lara Downes. It’s also a wonderful way to step off the merry-go-round for a while. I listened before reading the booklet notes, and I was struck by the “in the room” quality of the recording, and the sensitive, expressive playing.   There are 19 pieces from 18 different composers, ranging from Morton Gould, Leonard Bernstein, and Scott Joplin, to Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington, and George Gershwin. I was particularly struck by Downe’s arrangement of the traditional “Shenandoah.” Taken as a whole, this is the perfect album for listening on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The music is uniquely American without overdoing it. And with this recording, you will swear she really is right there in the room playing for you.


DSL92207

 

America Again

 

Lara Downes

 

DSD 64fs, 128fs, DXD
Stereo

 

I am a huge fan of Jan Willem de Vriend’s Beethoven symphonies– now all available from Challenge on this site. I recommended some of these last year, but now that I have heard them all, I rank them right up there with my favorite complete sets, including Monteux with the LSO and VPO, and Jochum with the Concertgebouw! And the recording quality is certainly superior. Everybody has favorites in Beethoven, and while I don’t believe in a right or wrong choice– there is only what moves the individual listener. I very much like the “attitude” that de Vriend brings to these. They remind me of the Monteux in showing the avant garde side of Beethoven, but they also have some of the “dancing” qualities of Jochum’s Concertegebouw recordings. Highly recommended!


CC72364

Beethoven: Symphonies No. 1 & 5

The Netherlands Symphonie Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

 

 


CC72532

Beethoven: Symphonies No. 2 & 3

The Netherlands Symphonie Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

 

 


CC72361

 

Beethoven: Symphonies No. 4 & 6

The Netherlands Symphonie Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

 

 


CC72500

Beethoven: Symphonies No. 7 & 8

The Netherlands Symphonie Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

 

 


CC72533

Beethoven: Symphonies No. 9

The Netherlands Symphonie Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

 

 

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 4 and 5 with soloist Hannes Minnaar and Jan Willem de Vriend conducting the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. While these are perhaps not as “monumental” as some performances, I do enjoy the lyrical approach that seems to be prevalent here. Again, the Chalenge engineers have done an excellent job of capturing the performance.


CC72672


Beethoven: Piano Concertos No. 4 & 5

Hannes Minnaar, piano
The Netherlands Symphonie Orchestra
Jan Willem de Vriend

 

DSD 64fs,
Stereo, Multi

Bill Dodd

Bill Dodd

Bill Dodd is a retired radio broadcaster who was born and raised near San Francisco, but now lives in the USA’s Pacific Northwest. “Discovery is important to me. Along with finding an exciting new viewpoint of a favorite work, I really love discovering music and composers I haven’t heard before, or haven’t been able to get close to in the past.”

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