This blog features DSD Album reviews from three of the eight newly appointed NativeDSD Reviewers.
- Pál Szatmári reviews Florilegium: Telemann Concertos and Cantata Ihr Völker Hört
- Wayne Wilmeth reviews Aeon Trio: Elegy
- Mark Genfan reviews Pieter Wispelwey: Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Bruch
Let us introduce you to: Pál Szatmári
Pál, 49, is an English teacher and translator, who lives in Hungary. Music has always played an important role in his life. As a child, he learned to play the piano and later on he became interested in electronic keyboards. His favorite genre is progressive rock and avant-garde music but also listens to classical (mainly romantic and baroque) and jazz or fusion.
Equipment used for the review:
Korg DS-DAC100, Marantz PM8005 integrated stereo amp, Dynaudio Excite X18 speakers, QED Reference Audio 40 interconnect, XT40 speaker cables
“The Next Best Thing To Having A Time Machine”
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to travel back in time and experience life in a bygone era? Well, you might have your very own time machine sitting on your hi-fi rack right now – in the form of a DSD DAC.
“you believe you are sitting in a Hamburg church circa 1750”
This is what occurred to me today listening to the Channel Classics recording (Cat. No. CCS38616) of Florilegium performing 4 Telemann concertos, the cantata Ihr Völker Hört and an overture. The recording was released on CD but never as a Super Audio CD, so your only chance to hear it in high resolution is through downloading it from the NativeDSD site. And if you do so, your reward is being flown back in time to enjoy a private concert in the mid-18th century.
The clarity of the recording combined with the finesse of playing by the world-renowned Florilegium ensemble (using period instruments) give such a fascinating lifelike effect that makes you believe you are sitting in a Hamburg church circa 1750. The program is well-chosen, to begin with. You hear joyful, heavenly tunes, and the members of this extraordinary ensemble play with such effortlessness that you might want to grab a spare instrument and join in. The music has a soothing quality, like sitting on a moss-covered rock by a stream on a warm spring day with the sun filtrating through the canopy.
Now, the “flux capacitor” of your time machine is the DSD to Analog conversion circuitry in your DAC. With a great DSD recording like this, it is possible to experience recorded music like never before. Play the ‘Loure’ movement from ‘Overture in F major’, for example, and reach out to touch the pizzicato-like short string notes. Similarly, in Menuette, the horns and bassoon materialize in your listening room – or rather, you materialize in the concert room.
Let us introduce you to: Wayne Wilmeth
Wayne Wilmeth is a retired oilfield worker who has lived and worked all over the world, and is now living in Thailand. He loves his family, spicy food and music. He is heavily into home theater and is an audiophile – and a music lover for sure!
“Audiophile “ear candy” you cannot stop listening to”
Some of us “audiophiles” love to show off our systems or even just WOW ourselves with a few snippets of beautiful sounding music I call “ear candy”. Then move to the next snippet. But “Elegy” by the Aeon Trio stopped me in my tracks on first listen.
“In DSD 128 Stereo the recorded sound is the BEST! I have never heard a piano, cello or bass sound more real and present.”
It is all done with strings. From the opening octave and following melody bowed by Maya Fridman on her cello I was hooked!!! Achingly beautiful as she repeats the melody, soon Atzko Kohashi strikes the strings of her piano with the same melody and I am enthralled. Delicious. By the time Frans van der Hoeven plucks the melody on his upright bass I know Carla Bley’s, “Utviklingssang” is as stunning as it is unpronounceable (for me). More. Improvisations and innovative interpretations of other fine works follow, some written by Ms. Kohashi and the Aeon Trio, others by none other than John Williams, and even the classical Gabriel Fauré.
The trio is taking chances here. Williams’ “Elegy” was wonderfully recorded with Yo-Yo Ma. The interpretation of Faure’s “Lamento” stretches the sounds that can be produced by a Cello or a Bass until you experience/feel the lament. And within around 20 measures of “Lamento” Ms. Kohashi holds forth powerfully on key #1 and ends up playing #88, if my ears don’t deceive me. But by the time we get to the album’s last phrase Ms. Fridman plays on “Quiet Now” we have been taken on an Elegiac tour de force and never once thought of stopping and listening to something else.
“No toe tapping music here as one might expect from a ‘Jazz Trio’ but meaty, full-hearted, moving music.”
This is serious music, but it is not sad. An elegy, a poem for the dead can be, as it is here, a celebration of a life well lived, exultant and satisfying. No toe tapping music here as one might expect from a ‘Jazz Trio’ but meaty, full-hearted, moving music. This is not only exquisite music, but the sound is of natural instruments!
In DSD 128 Stereo the recorded sound is the BEST! I have never heard a piano, cello or bass sound more real and present. Listen to the piano on “Gary’s Waltz”. TRPTK has set up the recording session with the best equipment and techniques I have ever heard. The sound is near-field, but perfectly so, never once do you feel as if your head is stuck inside the piano/cello/bass. Lovely ‘you are there’ sound, “ear candy” you will want to hear more.
I will demonstrate my music system to guests with Aeon Trio’s “Elegy” but the listeners will be treated to this beautiful work in its entirety!
Let us introduce you to: Mark Genfan
Mark Genfan is an acoustic designer, focusing on the design of recording studios, film and video facilities, and high end critical listening rooms. Based in Austin, TX, earlier in his career Mark worked as a studio technician, and a recording engineer of classical music for Sony Classical in New York. Mark is an ever-campaigning proponent for high resolution and multi-channel recording.
“The DSD process brings you into the hall, with the best seat in the house”
The Channel Classics/Wispelwey SACD has become one of those special albums that are played when demonstrating the very highest fidelity systems. But it also will be a recording you play when you want to dive in deep, relax and be taken to the actual location and time of the recording. Recorded relatively early in the evolution of DSD and commercial SACD releases (2000), it is nonetheless shows off the reach and capabilities – and potential – of the format.
Performance-wise, Wispelwey and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen give a flawless reading of the Saint-Saens Concerto in particular, with the solo cello perfectly balanced amidst a mellow bed of accompaniment.
If you own a multi-channel playback system, prepare to be astounded. The recording engineers have utilized the wide bandwidth and virtually infinite resolution of the DSD process to bring you into the hall, with the best seat in the house. You can almost feel the air and space within. This recording stayed in the high resolution DSD realm throughout editing all the way to the final disc, and the result is a no-compromise musical event, even if you listen in two-channel. Interestingly, Peter Wispelwey is credited as one of the producers, and wrote some of the liner notes. His dedication to the masterful rendition of the pieces follows through every step in this album’s construction and realization.
“You don’t necessarily need a super high-end system to appreciate the resolution that lives inside the notes (…)”
The violinist Daniel Sepec also shares some of the spotlight on this recording, as Concertmaster for the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. The orchestra’s Musical Director, Daniel Harding of Great Britain, worked with Abbado in Berlin, but since the date of this recording, has moved on to both the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra.
But Wispelwey is surely the star here. He moves through the recording from Saint-Saens, into the Tchaikovsky variations, and finishing with an uplifting, distinctly European flavored Bruch. The entire listening experience here shows everything a master cello soloist can do, and then some.
This DSD recording showcases both the format and the artist. You don’t necessarily need a super high-end system to appreciate the resolution that lives inside the notes, because it was recorded as purely as modern technology can offer. In headphones, two-channel, you’re front and center in the concert hall, and you’ll cry and smile as Wispelwey does his magic. If you have the opportunity to listen in full surround sound, this is a unique experience in audio fidelity and sound-stage presentation. The recording is motivation for more record companies to take advantage of and commit to the DSD format.