Contemporary Classical Masterpieces Aug 12 by Bill Dodd in Dodd's DSD Discoveries, Music Reviews

Some out of the way yet close to us in the classical music composing history discoveries today… Contemporary Classical 20th and 21st Century Masterpieces in DSD.


20th Century Masterpieces for Cello and Piano

Drinkall-Baker Duo

Label: Wilson Audiophile Recordings

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Stereo

Here’s a really lovely Cello-Piano duo recital! Terry Drinkall and Dian Baker combine to perform two beautiful sonatas and some other wonderful duets.  “20th Century Masterpieces for Piano and Cello” features Samuel Barber’s excellent Sonata, Op. 6, Debussy’s Sonata in D, Ginastera’s Pampeana #2 (A Rhapsody for Piano and Cello), a gorgeous arrangement for piano and cello of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Six Studies In English Folk-Song. While the Barber and the Ginastera stand out in my mind, all pieces are played with skill and great feeling. An outstanding recording. -> visit the album page


And Speaking of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), he is perhaps best known for his Fantasia on a Theme By Thomas Tallis and his nine Symphonies. His Oboe Concerto from 1944 certainly reflects the “pastoral” side of Vaughan Williams. Here it’s beautifully played by oboist Nicholas Daniel, accompanied by James MacMillan conducting the Britten Sinfonia. I can’t imagine a lovelier performance. Also included in the set is an Oboe Concerto by conductor MacMillan, more “modern” in nature—but also quite accessible. Winding up the bill is Benjamin Britten’s wonderful Suite on English Folk Tunes, Op 90, from 1974. The Britten Sinfonia is a very fine ensemble, and brings a lot of “heart” to this music. -> visit the album page

Vaughan Williams and MacMillan – Oboe Concertos

Nicholas Daniel

Label: harmonia mundi

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo


Pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi make up the piano duo, Zofo. They bring real energy and dedication to music by contemporary minimalist composer Terry Riley. I know some might be hesitant after seeing the words “contemporary” and “minimalist,” but this is not difficult music in any sense. Terry Riley blurs the lines between traditional classical, jazz, and even classical Indian music.Poulenc, Satie, and even Bill Evans came to my mind when I was listening. It’s amazing how much music two people at one piano can make. You just might want to get this one. Zofo is making a name for themselves with astounding performances– four hands on one piano. They worked closely with Terry Riley in the making of this set. -> visit the album page

ZOFO Plays Terry Riley


Label: Sono Luminus

Qualities: DSD 64fs, DSD 128fs, DXD
Channels: Stereo, StereoDXD


Riley – Four Four Three

Ragazze String Quartet

Label: Channel Classics

Qualities: DSD 64fs, DSD 128fs, DSD 256fs, DXD
Channels: Multi, StereoDXD, Stereo, MultiDXD

Screenshot 2016-08-11 16.51.28

Speaking of Terry Riley… don’t forget the new release, Four Four Three from the Ragazze Quartet, Kapok, and Slagwerk den Haag which features works by Riley — receiving rave reviews from all over. This month, Gramophone gives the recording an Editor’s Choice, writing: “The pulse is discreetly shunted towards the background, utterly charming the senses with an often delicate mechanism of light pizzicato strings and mallet percussion (…)” – Gramophone, Editor’s Choice (August 2016). I couldn’t agree more. -> visit the album page


What if I told you that an album called Sounds of War has 3 wonderful sonatas for violin and piano but no canons or marches– nothing but wonderful music from composers Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), Leos Janacek (1854-1928), and Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). The Poulenc and Prokofiev sonatas date from WWII, while the Janacek is from WWI. There is an underlying current to each piece that speaks of sadness– and sometimes anger. Violinist Maria Milstein and Pianist Hanna Shybayeva are totally convincing in these sonatas. I was drawn to this set for the Poulenc and Prokofiev sonatas, but the Janacek was a wonderful surprise. Beautiful music, beautifully captured. -> visit the album page

Sounds of War

Maria Milstein, Hanna Shybayeva

Label: Cobra Records

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo, Binaural


And speaking of Janacek, here’s a mighty choral piece: Leos Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, first performed in Brno in December of 1927. Just before its first performance in Prague in 1928, Janacek made some changes which some feel were not necessarily improvements. Marek Janowski chose to conduct the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in the original as reconstructed in 1994.   Jankowski keeps a somewhat tighter rein on things than some others I’ve heard, but this to me is a benefit. The soloists are very good, and there is an amazing sound to the organ solo.  The filler is Janacek’s Taras Bulba Fantasy for Orchestra. This is now my favorite Glagolitic Mass. -> visit the album page

Janacek – Glagolitic Mass, Bulba – Rhapsody

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

Label: Pentatone Classics

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo


Ravel’s music for piano is hardly a discovery for me — I devour it. But a genuine discovery on Native DSD is this double length set of Ravel pieces, Compared. The wonderful Paolo Giacometti plays 13 Ravel pieces, first on an “authentic” Erard piano, and then on a modern style Steinway. Ravel generally played Steinways in recitals, but at home he composed on an older style Erard. There are considerable structural differences and the pianist adapts his performance to the sound and mechanics of each. The same pieces are played, but the interpretations are subtly different. Sometimes I think I prefer the Steinway, but then I change my mind and go for the Erard. When you can have both, why quibble! -> visit the album page


Paolo Giacometti

Label: Channel Classics

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo


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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