Extreme beauty ahead Aug 10 by Bill Dodd in Dodd's DSD Discoveries, Music Reviews, NativeDSD SALE

I’ve certainly covered a lot of wonderful recordings in doing 28 of these blogs, but occasionally there are some that get left behind. So I’ve spent the last few days looking. And I found some great ones!

Caution! Extreme beauty ahead…

Arabella Steinbacher, backed by Lawrence Foster and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, brings us some exquisite melodies and some old favorites. Old favorites can sometimes have a bit too much moss growing on them, but not so here. Waxman’s Carman Fantasie from 1944 is delightful. As is Saint-Saens’ Havanaise and Massenet’s Meditation from “Thais”, as well as the other selections. But the stand out for me is The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams. If you have never heard this, sit quietly, clear your mind, and only then – listen. Right from the beginning this music is so lovely and beautifully played, it’s like that feeling you get when you first step outside on a perfect Spring day.

Fantasies, Rhapsodies & Daydreams

Arabella Steinbacher, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo

album page: https://pentatone.nativedsd.com/albums/PTC5186536-fantasies-rhapsodies-daydreams

Another piece that can have the effect of stopping you in your tracks, and one that you’re probably more familiar with, is Samuel Barber’s beloved Adagio for Strings. The Adagio began life as the second movement of Barber’s String Quartet No. 1, but when Toscanini asked him to arrange it for a string orchestra a world favorite was born.

In 1967 Barber took the Adagio a step further and created an a capella version using the text of the Agnus Dei from the Roman Catholic Mass. In this recording Manfred Honeck conducts the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the Adagio for Strings, but he writes that used the a capella version in his mind as a way of “finding the deeper sense of this piece.” I think you’ll agree that it is very moving. And you could consider a wonderful rendition of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 a very nice extra! The third movement is a superb companion to the Adagio.

Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Barber Adagio for Strings

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

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

album page: https://referencerecordings.nativedsd.com/albums/FR724SACD-shostakovich-symphony-no-5-barber-adagio-for-strings

Imagine a string sextet playing Schoenberg. Ok, what do you expect? Well, if you’ve never encountered Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht you’re probably in for a surprise. It’s not picnic music, but it is beautiful! I wasn’t surprised since I have the Hollywood String Quartet’s recording from 1951, considered by many to be the finest. The Sestetto Stradivari’s recording compares very well, and the recording quality is lightyears ahead. Also in this release is Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir De Florence. There is much to enjoy here.

Sestetto Stradivari – Schoenberg, Tchaikovsky

Sestetto Stradivari

Qualities: DSD 64fs, 128fs, 256fs, DXD
Channels: Stereo

album page: https://vdmrecords.nativedsd.com/albums/VDM03855033-sestetto-stradivari-schoenberg-tchaikovsky

And speaking of Tchaikovsky…

I think that those of us who are familiar with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra would consider any of his albums to be self-recommending, but I thought I’d mention that both his Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 are very fine. You probably wouldn’t be disappointed by any of the recordings of these symphonies available at the NativeDSD Store, but these with the BFO are at the top of my list. Besides, with the BFO’s number 6 you also get a performance of Borodin’s  Polovtsian Dances that will make your socks roll up and down!

Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 36 & Romeo And Juliet Overture

Budapest Festival Orchestra

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo

album page: https://channelclassics.nativedsd.com/albums/symphony-no-4-in-f-minor-op-36-romeo-and-juliet-overture

Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 6 in B minor

Budapest Festival Orchestra, Iván Fischer

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

album page: https://channelclassics.nativedsd.com/albums/37016-tchaikovsky-symphony-no-6-in-b-minor

Back in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s it was common for selected bits of Mozart’s operas (greatest hits?) to be performed in the salons and music rooms of fashionable people in wind sextet arrangements. These can be remarkably satisfying, musically speaking. In one of my early blogs I also highlighted “Harmoniemusik from Mozart’s Favorite Operas” with this group of fine musicians calling themselves Winds Unlimited doing arrangements of selections from Le Nozze di Figaro, La Clemenza di Tito, and Don Giovanni, all arranged by Georg Kasper Sartorius in the early 1800’s. Oh yes, besides the winds there is a double bass to give a little bottom to the whole thing.

Harmoniemusik from Mozart’s Favourite Operas

Winds Unlimited with Chen Halevi

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

album page: https://cobra.nativedsd.com/albums/COBRA0049-harmoniemusik-from-mozarts-favourite-operas

But here’s another!

Mozart for Wind Octet

Oslo Kammerakademi

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

album page: https://lawo.nativedsd.com/albums/LWC1141-mozart-for-wind-octet

The Oslo Kammerakademi performs two Mozart Seranades, and wind sextet arrangements of the Overture and many arias from La Clemenza di Tito by Joseph Triebensee. The Kammerakademi expands the arrangement with 11 players including a double bass and a timpani.

Both albums are beautifully recorded with the first being a bit more intimate. These are fine releases for those who like their Mozart tuneful and in shorter doses. I highly recommend both.

And talk about tuneful! Haydn’s English Sonatas!

Dejan Lazic brings these Haydn Sonatas to us with great clarity and a true understanding of their nature. Love, joy, and a couple of jokes. You absolutely won’t be able to keep from smiling. Why read about them when you can listen! Oh yes, you also get a delightful Beethoven Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major with Heribert Beissel conducting the Kassische Philharmonie Bonn and Lazic supplies his own cadenza. What a wonderful discovery!

Haydn English Sonatas, Beethoven Piano Concerto 2

Dejan Lazic

Qualities: DSD 64fs
Channels: Multi, Stereo

album page: https://channelclassics.nativedsd.com/albums/19703-haydn-english-sonatas-beethoven-piano-concerto-2

Bruno Bavota is difficult to catagorize. And that begs the question, “Why insist that things go into catagories?”   The Neopolitan composer/pianist is classified by some as neo-classical. I’m not so sure. But I don’t care. This music is not Debussy, nor is it Jazz or (so-called) soft-jazz. It just is. It’s warm, and it’s friendly. The titles are descriptive, but I don’t think it’s necessary to apply the pictures those titles suggest. I find it a change of pace, a clearing of the mind. “Out of the Blue” can mean a surprise, but one could argue that it also can mean a change of mood. The recording quality is excellent.

Bruno Bavota – Out of the Blue

Bruno Bavota

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

album page: https://sonoluminus.nativedsd.com/albums/DSL92206-bruno-bavota-out-of-the-blue

Here’s another change of pace for me:

Rafael Fraga is a guitarist, arranger, and songwriter who was born in Lisbon, raised in the Azores, and studied classical composing for a BA in Lisbon and a MA in Amsterdam, where he now lives. Along with the members of his quartet he has expanded his performance skills as a vocalist to record an album of songs he wrote in Portuguese.  The result is jazz oriented, and reminds me very much of music from Brazil. I’ve listened to this 4 or 5 times, and I like it more each time. It is well recorded and shows that Fraga vocal abilities are very well suited to music like this. If you enjoy Jobim, Gilberto, or even Portuguese Fado, take a listen. This is very enjoyable music from Rafael Fraga and his quartet.

Trova Caminhada

Rafael Fraga

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

album page: https://trptk.nativedsd.com/albums/TTK0014-trova-caminhada

Coincidentally, I just heard the news that this same DSD Album was selected as ‘Audiophile Highlight of the Month’ in German magazine Stereo, August 2018. It’s not just me who throughly enjoys it!

It was fun to catch up on some that I missed before. I hope you’ll give them a listen.

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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