Music Discovery with High Water Sound
The demos given by High Water Sound’s Jeffrey Catalano are as much about music as they are gear. Attending one is like sitting in on a music history lesson with a wonderful professor. Catalano most enjoys making direct connections between the seemingly disparate.
On this occasion, he practically shook with excitement. As he walked across the large listening room, on his way to select one of the many vinyl LPs that had been propped up against a side wall, he paused to address the crowd: “For me, what I’m about to play . . . this is just the best piece of music I’ve heard . . . in . . . years.”
We listened. Violins shivered, whirred, and swirled in the great space between the two loudspeakers. The system was made of TW-Acustic’s Raven AC Anniversary SE turntable ($32,000) with two TW-Acustic 10.5 tonearms ($5500 each), one with an Ortofon Windfeld ($3899) and one with a Miyajima Labs Zero Mono ($2000) phono cartridge; Cessaro’s massive Liszt loudspeakers ($165,000/pair); and Tron Electric’s Telstar GT SE 211 power amplifier ($65,000), Syren II GT preamp ($55,000), and Seven GT mono phono preamp ($15,000). Speaker cables and interconnects were from High Fidelity Cables; Shun Mook and Telwire power cables were plugged into two Silver Circle Audio Tchaik 6 power conditioning units ($9500 each).
“Does anyone know what we’re listening to?” Catalano asked. “Does it sound familiar to anyone?”
Someone in the back of the room responded: “Well, I hear a bit of The Four Seasons in there.”
“That’s because you’re very smart,” Catalano replied, holding up the album jacket: Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons. The album, released by Deutsche Grammophon, is exactly what its title suggests. The composer told NPR that, as a child, he loved The Four Seasons, but his affection waned as he grew older. “It’s beautiful, charming music with a great melody and wonderful colors. Then, later on, as I became more musically awareliterate, studied music and listened to a lot of musicI found it more difficult to love it. We hear it everywherewhen you’re on hold, you hear it in the shopping center, in advertising; it’s everywhere. For me, the record and the project are trying to reclaim the piece, to fall in love with it again.”
Seems to me that Richter achieved his goal. Hear this recordthrough a High Water Sound system, with commentary from Jeffrey Catalano, if at all possible.