Music and Recording Features

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Robert Baird Posted: Aug 08, 2013 1 comments
Down deepest, beneath everything he does, underlying all the facets of his ever-expanding career in music, Terence Blanchard is still a New Orleans guy. Question that and you can hear his dander rise.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jul 31, 2013 4 comments
Many of David Wilson's highly acclaimed, long out-of-print recordings are poised to make old and new generations of audiophiles very happy. On August 1, the first two of a selected batch of Wilson Audiophile Recordings will return to circulation as high-resolution (176.4kHz/24-bit), CD-quality, and MP3 downloads. Distributed by Naxos via a host of mass-market and hi-res digital music stores, including Chandos' "The Classical Shoppe," eClassical24bit, HDMusic, HDTracks, HiResAudio, Linn Records, Onkyo, and Qobuz24bit, the first titles in the series are Recital, James B. Welch's disc of four centuries of organ music, and Beethoven and Enescu Sonatas, performed by violinist David Abel and pianist Julie Steinberg, this magazine's "Recording of the Month" for February 1984.
Robert Baird Posted: May 09, 2013 Published: May 01, 2013 0 comments
"You see that empty space?" says Willie Nile, motioning toward a lot between buildings on Bleecker Street, an impish Irish grin flickering across his face. "They haven't built anything there yet because Anna Wintour lives around the corner. And that red-brick house over there, the one with the white door? That's where Dylan lived. I used to see Bob around the neighborhood now and again."
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 07, 2013 9 comments
Let's say you're lucky enough, or just plain old enough, to have bought a copy of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood on January 12, 1966. Let's say you're lucky enough or just plain smart enough to have held on to it and kept it in perfect shape for the past 47 years. And let's say it was one of the first 500 copies, which the author signed. If so, congratulations: For once in your life, even the smuggest collector can't claim that his copy of a book is "better" or more valuable than yours.
Richard Lehnert Posted: Jan 23, 2013 3 comments
This reconstruction of the Ninth's Finale is the result of 30 years' work by Bruckner scholars Nicola Samale, John A. Phillips, Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and Giuseppe Mazzuca (SPCM). (See March 2010 feature story.) For this new "Conclusive Revised Edition 2012," SPCM shortened by 18 bars the coda, of which little of Bruckner's writing survives, and reworked it to include, based on Bruckner's description, a development of the trumpets' "Alleluia" in bar five of the Adagio. This works well, though the coda now seems a bit short. A further "final" edition is in the works.
Robert Baird Posted: Jan 04, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
In a discussion about what their music is—and is not—Dave King, drummer for the Bad Plus, remembers opening a show for free-jazz patriarch Ornette Coleman at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. After their set, the band joined the audience to watch Coleman.

"After the first couple tunes—and this was in a seated theater—I swear, half the audience had left. Fifty years into your career, and he's still making people want to check it out and then decide if they can take it. And that's every night, I bet.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Dec 24, 2012 7 comments
Just in time for the New Year, Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records has released the first-ever DSD (Direct-Stream-Digital) download of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's recording of Mahler's Symphony No.1. Recorded live in Davies Symphony Hall in September 2001, shortly after 9/11, and first released as a hybrid SACD in 2003, the recording is one of the only four Mahler symphonies in SFSO's complete Mahler cycle that were recorded directly to DSD.

The Mahler 1 files, available in four formats, are all derived directly from San Francisco Symphony's master, not from a copy of the SACD. The formats include two DSD formats: DFF and DSF. For those whose computer playback software or DACs are not equipped to play DSD files, 24/96 and 16/44.1 PCM files in WAV format are also available.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Dec 12, 2012 5 comments
In order to get in the right mindset for the Dallas Wind Symphony's first ever Christmas CD, Horns for the Holidays, from Reference Recordings and recording engineer Keith O. Johnson, you have to understand something about Dallas.
Robert Baird Posted: Nov 13, 2012 0 comments
Humble, unprepossessing, modest are not words normally associated with lead guitarists, or lead singers, or lead anything. But Albert Lee, the Fender Telecaster devotee, has, by all accounts, always been refreshingly down to earth. The other unusual quality about Lee is that he's an English guitarist who, in country music, can hold his own against any American player.
Robert Baird Posted: Oct 10, 2012 Published: Oct 01, 2012 9 comments
It's the first rule of being a stereophile: sound quality is serious business. Simon Gibson, one of the engineers at Abbey Road Studios who worked on EMI's new Signature Collection of hybrid SACD/CDs, knows the drill: remaster and change the sound of a much-loved classical recording from the label's glorious back catalog and you risk becoming a target of blogs and forums. Gibson's aware that the more hallowed the recording, the more quickly knives come out at the mention of remastering.
Robert Baird Posted: Aug 21, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 3 comments
"We tried to do some work between the legs of . . .

"Ummmm . . . that sounds weird."

Rock musicians—do they ever think about anything but sex?

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson chuckles. He explains that what he meant to say was that he, singer-bassist Geddy Lee, and the exalted, formerly mustachioed object of Planet Earth's most fervent drummer cult, Neil Peart, were trying to write songs during a break in a recent tour.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Aug 25, 2012 3 comments
Photo of the author in Bayreuth: Paul Hyde

For audiophiles, the acoustic of the Bayreuth Festspielhause in Germany, home of the annual festival of Richard Wagner's operas, vies with Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and Vienna's Musikverein as one of the most fabled for recording as well as listening. As a participant in the Music Critics of North America 2012 institute at the Festival, I had the opportunity to not only explore the venue from a near-ideal seat in Row 25 Center, but to also visit the fabled "covered pit" from which many of the greatest Wagner conductors of the last 136 years have led exalted performances.

Robert Deutsch Posted: Aug 20, 2012 0 comments
I'm a great fan of the musical theater: musicals, operetta, and opera, more-or-less in that order. A typical summer vacation for my wife and me involves driving from Toronto to the East Coast, stopping off to see musicals (and some plays) at places like the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA, the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, , and the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, ME. The Glimmerglass summer opera festival, near Cooperstown, NY, is not far from the route we usually take, but I never thought of visiting it because my impression has been that they specialize in performances of modern and obscure operas, which are not quite our cup of tea.

My discovery of the fact that Glimmerglass has greatly expanded the range of its offerings came about through sheer serendipity. . .

John Marks Posted: Aug 09, 2012 0 comments
Don't waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Fantasy Symphony Season competition, announced in this column in February, has been a smashing success—as far as I'm concerned, it's the most worthwhile write-in competition yet. The 13 winning entries and one hors-concours laureate are posted in the follow-up to February's column on Stereophile's website. The update lists the compositions in each winning Fantasy Symphony Season entry. I created a spreadsheet to determine the most popular composers and works in the winning entries.

Robert Baird Posted: Jul 10, 2012 1 comments
It is perhaps the most cherished tale from hi-fi's primordial past: In 1951—when music was first being recorded on magnetic tape, when the use of much-improved microphones became a mix of science and art, and when Stereophile's founder, J. Gordon Holt, was still a little nipper, years away from his first martini (though I wouldn't swear to that)—the team of Robert (Bob) and Wilma Cozart Fine began to build a legendary catalog of recordings of classical music. It eventually included the work of conductors Rafael Kubelik, Antal Doráti, and Frederick Fennell; the Chicago and Minneapolis symphony orchestras; the pianists Byron Janis and Gina Bachauer; and the cellists Mstislav Rostropovich and János Starker—all released with often wildly colorful covers under the still-evocative title of Mercury Living Presence.

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