Los Romeros – World Of Flamenco (1967/2015) [ProStudioMasters 24-96]

Los Romeros – World Of Flamenco (1967/2015)
The Romeros with Jaleo: Guitar, Song, Dance, Poetry
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 80:26 minutes | 1,83 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: ProStudioMasters | Artwork: Digital booklet | @ Decca

Los Romeros, The Romero Guitar Quartet, is a guitar quartet, sometimes known as “The Royal Family of the Guitar” — their personnel consists entirely of members of the Romero family. The quartet was founded in 1960 by Celedonio Romero, who grew up in Franco’s Spain. All three of his sons, Angel, Celin and Pepe, had made their performing debuts by the time they were seven. In 1957, the Romeros moved to the United States, where they continue to reside.

This historic flamenco recording from 1966 features the four Romeros: father Celedonio and sons Celin, Pepe and Angel, all guitarists. Known as “The Royal Family of the Guitar,” the quartet is still going strong after 55 years with the third generation of Romeros carrying the torch.


Julia Wolfe – Anthracite Fields (2015) [HRA 24-48]

Julia Wolfe – Anthracite Fields (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 59:39 minutes | 629 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: highresaudio | Artwork: Digital booklet | @ Cantaloupe Music

Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anthracite Fields, an oratorio for chorus and instruments, commemorates the Pennsylvania coal miners whose work fueled the industrial revolution. Drawing from oral histories, interviews, speeches, local rhymes and featuring the rich instrumental sounds of the region, Anthracite Fields provides an intimate look at a particular slice of American life. After extensive research about life in the Pennsylvania coal fields where the purest form of coal, anthracite, is found, Wolfe uncovered a complex world of political battles and deep cultural expressions.

Haunting, poignant and relentlessly physical, Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields is a lovingly detailed oratorio about turn-of-the-20th-century Pennsylvania coal miners, and a fitting recipient of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music. NPR Music’s Tom Huizenga describes the piece as “…almost a public history project and a music project at the same time,” which hints at the work’s universal appeal.
Weaving together personal interviews that she conducted with miners and their families, along with oral histories, speeches, rhymes and local mining lore, Wolfe sought to honor the working lives of Pennsylvania’s anthracite region. “It’s not necessarily mainstream history,” she told NPR shortly after she received word of winning the Pulitzer. “The politics are very fascinating—the issues about safety, and the consideration for the people who are working and what’s involved in it. But I didn’t want to say, ‘Listen to this. This is a big political issue.’ It really was, ‘Here’s what happened. Here’s this life, and who are we in relationship to that?’ We’re them. They’re us. And basically, these people, working underground, under very dangerous conditions, fueled the nation. That’s very important to understand.”
Featuring the always adventurous Bang on a Can All-Stars and the renowned Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Anthracite Fields merges multiple styles with classical themes—from the deep, ambient sweep of the opening movement “Foundation” (with the All-Stars’ Mark Stewart wrenching waves of keening sound from his electric guitar) to the high-energy work-song mood of “Breaker Boys.” In the sociopolitically poignant “Speech”, inhumane mining conditions are addressed with Stewart taking the lead in haranguing rock vocals, while “Appliances” reflects with mechanical denouement on the economic results of coal power.


Jonas Kaufmann – The Age Of Puccini (2015) [Qobuz 24-48]

Jonas Kaufmann – The Age Of Puccini (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 76:16 minutes | 788 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: Qobuz  | Artwork: Digital booklet | @ Decca/London

On 14 April 2010 Jonas Kaufmann became the first German tenor to sing Cavaradossi at the Metropolitan Opera in 103 years. He shaped Puccini’s music with exceptional elegance, balancing the character’s essential revolutionary fervour with a heart-stopping tenderness. Critics and audiences received the portrayal ecstatically. Listeners familiar with Kaufmann’s artistry in German and French repertoire exclusively will be astonished by his affinity for Italian music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In preparing this music by Puccini and his contemporaries (including Puccini’s and Mascagni’s teacher of composition, Ponchielli), Kaufmann was gratified that his fluent Italian enabled him to “understand double meanings and discover the secrets between the written lines”. Freedom from technical worries allowed Kaufmann to concentrate exclusively on communication, “with the text leading me automatically into the emotional circumstances of each piece.”

In conversation Kaufmann repeatedly emphasizes the emotional content of this repertoire — above all, the Zandonai aria: “I doubt that you can put more personal feelings into music. Romeo is mourning Giulietta, but in a shockingly realistic way. Listening to it is like sneaking into someone’s privacy.” In such music, “it’s satisfying when you can slip into your character and feel how the emotions change your sound, your breathing, your whole approach to the notes.”

Producers: Christopher Alder and David Frost
Recording engineers: Oldřich Slezák, Ivan Zbiral, Mike Hatch, Philip Siney
Mixing engineer: Richard King


Jonas Kaufmann – Nessun Dorma: The Puccini Album (2015) [HDTracks 24-96]

Jonas Kaufmann – Nessun Dorma: The Puccini Album (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 60:53 minutes | 1,21 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  | Source: HDTracks | @ Sony Classical

The ultimate all-Puccini album from “The greatest tenor of our day”. Contains famous arias and scenes drawn from Puccini’s greatest operas including Turandot, La Bohème, Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and more…

This release by the celebrated German tenor Jonas Kaufmann has been attended by a good deal of controversy; Kaufmann has publicly protested the release of a rival Puccini album by Decca, drawn from earlier Kaufmann recordings. He has a point in that the Decca album does not even consist entirely or even mostly of Puccini. Here you get a well-chosen set of Puccini arias, touching on hits like “Recondita Armonia” from Tosca and the title track, but also bringing out worthwhile, slightly frenetic pieces from the rarely performed early operas Le Villi and Edgar. Everywhere, Kaufmann continues to astonish with his sheer versatility. Opera specialists may quibble with the details, but for the ordinary fan of Puccini’s dramatically expansive style there’s little to suggest that Kaufmann has not been specializing in this stuff for his entire career, and that seems to happen whether he’s singing bel canto opera, Wagner, or what have you. The program consists mostly of duets, and Kaufmann or his handlers choose partners who can keep up with him. The only mild complaint is with the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Antonio Pappano, who at times don’t put the tenor quite front and center (something that may be an issue with the very live sound environment). In general, this is a major triumph from a true vocal star.


Jacqueline Du Pre, Janet Baker, John Barbirolli, London Symphony Orchestra – Elgar: Cello Concerto In E Minor – Sea Pictures (2011 Remaster) (1965/2012) [HDTracks 24-96]

Jacqueline Du Pre,Janet Baker, John Barbirolli, London Symphony Orchestra – Elgar: Cello Concerto In E Minor – Sea Pictures (2011 – Remaster) (1965/2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 53:52 minutes | 1,07 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | @ Warner Classics/Erato

On this magnificent audiophile download, world renowned cellist Jacqueline Du Pre renders a gut-wrenching performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor. This standard in the classical repertoire is delivered with unmatched emotion and virtuosity. This recording also features breathtaking vocals by Janet Baker on the Elgar classic, Sea Pictures. The purity of her tone is absolutely stunning. A highly recommended addition to any classical lover’s collection.


Various Artists – 2L, The Nordic Sound: DXD Tracks Sampler (2006-2013) [2L 24bit/352,8kHz]

Various Artists – 2L, The Nordic Sound: DXD Tracks Sampler (2006-2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/352,8 kHz | Time – 97:16 minutes | 7,84 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: 2L.no | Front cover

From combined musical and audiophile criteria we have compiled the most excellent recordings 2L have to offer. Two of the albums presented in this collection was nominated for the American GRAMMY Awards “Best Surround Sound Album” and “Best Performance”. Discover what the unique Nordic Sound is all about!


Various Artists – Opus3: DSD Showcase 1 (2013) [DSD64]

Various Artists – Opus3: DSD Showcase 1 (2013)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,8 MHz | Time – 40:24 minutes | 1,68 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: DSDFile.com | Front cover

Showcase is a test/reference sampler for people interested in music and serious High Fidelity and who wants to test or enjoy good HiFi equipment with a carefully made selection of acoustic music, World, Folk, Blues, Jazz and Classical music in a harmonic mixture – from the latest Opus 3 releases.


Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique – Lelio – Riccardo Muti, Chicago SO (2015) [24-96]

Riccardo Muti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Lelio (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 114:43 minutes | 1,99 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Digital booklet | @ CSO Resound – Naxos of America

This double album from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Riccardo Muti was recorded live in September 2010 at Orchestra Hall and produced by Grammy winner David Frost. The Berlioz programme includes the Symphonie fantastique and its rarely-recorded sequel, Lélio, narrated here by French actor Gérard Depardieu, also featuring tenor Mario Zeffiri and bass baritone Kyle Ketelsen.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s label, CSO Resound, is noted for its extraordinary sound quality and its exciting performances, many of which are among the finest it has ever offered on disc. This double CD of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and its intended sequel, Lélio, ou le retour à la vie, is a bit of a rarity because they are infrequently paired, due to the different forces required for each. Symphonie fantastique is a five-movement programmatic symphony for orchestra, while Lélio is a melodramatic cantata for narrator, vocalists, chorus, two pianos, and orchestra, which makes mounting a performance of the two works together a bit daunting (quite aside from the fact that Lélio fell into neglect after the Romantic era, while the Symphonie fantastique has always been a hit). For this performance, Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in a rousing, if solidly mainstream, interpretation of the symphony on the first disc, and he is joined on the second disc by actor Gérard Depardieu, tenor Mario Zeffiri, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, in a performance that conveys the extremes of lyricism and bombast that are so characteristic of Berlioz. It helps to know French, though the texts are provided, and Depardieu’s highly dramatic reading communicates the intensity of Berlioz’s passionate expressions. But listeners will be delighted by the variety and inventiveness of the music, both of which argue convincingly for Lélio’s revival. Highly recommended for Berlioz devotees and collectors of CSO Resound releases.


Pavarotti – 24 Greatest (2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Luciano Pavarotti – Pavarotti: 24 Greatest (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 1:19:10 minutes | 1,47 GB | Genrel: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | @ Decca Records

One of the greatest operatic tenors of the 20th century, Luciano Pavarotti was considered by many to possess one of the most lyrical and beautiful voices of his time. This album offers a definitive collection of some of Pavarotti’s greatest performances of his career in hi-res audio, including “Nessun Dorma”, “O Sole Mio”, and “Celeste Aida”.


Benjamin Godard – Piano Concertos – Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley (2014) [hyperion-records 24-96]

Benjamin Godard – Piano Concertos – Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:10:11 minutes | 1,14 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | @ Hyperion Records
Recorded: April 2013, Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

In sharp contradistinction to the rest of the composers in this series, all of whom look like walruses, Benjamin Godard looks quite a lot like Johnny Depp in his daguerreotype. We should be marketing this directly to teenage girls.

Howard Shelley directs the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the piano in this latest volume of The Romantic Piano Concerto series. As ever, they perform unknown music with consummate style and deep understanding, making the best possible case for the works. We have reached Volume 63 and the works of French composer Benjamin Godard, a figure who is almost totally forgotten today. He is described by Jeremy Nicholas in his booklet note as ‘a composer who combines the sentimental melodic appeal of Massenet with the fecundity and technical facility of Saint-Saëns’.

Among Godard’s oeuvre, well over seventy opus numbers are devoted to works for solo piano, ranging from Les contes de Perrault, Op 6, to Valse No 15, Op 153. His Hommage à Chopin can be found on Hyperion CDA67803, performed by Jonathan Plowright. Much of the enormous amount of music he produced followed in the tradition of Mendelssohn and Schumann (his admiration for the latter inspired a string quartet arrangement of Kinderszenen in 1876). With the emergence of more innovative composers, Godard’s conservative idiom meant his reputation faded before his early death in Cannes on 10 January 1895. However, in the three works presented here his writing for the piano exceeds the technical range of his two idols, and is often reminiscent of the bravura demands found in the concertos of Liszt and Rubinstein.


With Vol 63 of Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto’ series we alight upon Benjamin Godard (1849-95), the French composer remembered today, if at all, for the rather lovely Berceuse from his otherwise forgotten opera Jocelyn. On the evidence of his piano concertos in A minor (1875) and G minor (1893) and the Introduction and Allegro of 1880, his heroes were the likes of Mendelssohn and Schumann, seen though the prism, perhaps, of Saint-Saëns. As far as the pianism goes, Godard was evidently fully aware of the new vistas of technique and colour opened up by Liszt. That said, it would be difficult to claim that this music lives long in the memory after having heard it.

It does, however, tickle the senses with some attractive, dramatic ideas during the actual process of listening. There is, for example, a delightful, nifty Saint-Saëns-esque Scherzo to the A minor Concerto, and an even better one in the G minor, but the one in the A minor tends to run out of steam in its middle section. This is the main drawback in both concertos: if Godard has his moments, he seems all too often to lose his way in a labyrinth of lower than top-drawer material, exhausting its potential to lead anywhere. The Introduction and Allegro, less ambitious, is also more successful, with an opening Lento of grandiose pretensions but strong melodic definition as well, and an appealing rum-ti-tum Allegro. The performances by the indefatigable Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian orchestra cannot be faulted. –Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone