LATEST ADDITIONS

John Atkinson  |  Dec 18, 2018  |  3 comments
It was January 1986. Stereophile's then publisher, Larry Archibald, and I were driving in his diesel 'Benz sedan from Las Vegas to Santa Fe. We had shaken hands at the just-concluded Consumer Electronics Show on my replacing J. Gordon Holt as the magazine's editor, and now, during the 750-mile drive, we mapped out the strategy to take what was then an "underground," digest-format, somewhat irregularly published magazine to the position of dominance in audio publishing it still enjoys.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 18, 2018  |  0 comments
Joyce DiDonato: Into the Fire
Works by Heggie, Strauss, Debussy, Gruber, Lekeu
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano; Brentano String Quartet
Erato 573802 (24/96, CD). 2018. Jeremy Hayes, prod.; Steve Portnoi, balance, mastering. DDD. TT: 77:38
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

On the 2017 Winter Solstice, the astounding Joyce DiDonato—the coloratura mezzo-soprano from Kansas who zips through impossible runs of Rossinian roulades faster than anyone can shuck corn—took a break from opera to present a song recital in London's famed Wigmore Hall. With Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's moving song cycle Into the Fire as its centerpiece, this live recording of DiDonato with the Brentano String Quartet confirms that she is a song interpreter of rare distinction.

Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 17, 2018  |  2 comments
Sorry I've been away from this space for so long. My day gig (national-security columnist for Slate) has kept me busy (as you can imagine), and I've got a tight deadline on a new book. Still, as Congreve observed, "Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast," and there's plenty of breast-beating savagery out there, so I've continued to listen, and here is my dispatch on the Best Jazz Albums (10 new and two historical discoveries) of 2018.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 15, 2018  |  6 comments
Terpsichore, the Greek goddess of dance and chorus. How appropriate that her delight in dancing should be honored in Terpsichore: Apotheóse de la Danse baroque (Alia Vox), the latest beautifully produced and packaged Alia Vox SACD from Jordi Savall and his baroque orchestra, Le Concert des Nations. Filled with high energy orchestral music by Jean-Ferry Rebel (1666–1747) and the even longer-lived Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767), the recording exalts the exuberant French style of instrumental dance music that became popular during the rise of the baroque orchestra in the courts of Kings Henry IV and Louis XIII in the early 17th century.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 13, 2018  |  22 comments
My Russian neighbor's blind grandfather, Vlad, has very discriminating ears—but only when I tell him what to listen for. If I don't, he just bitches about my choice of music. And he refuses to listen to "weak" American orchestras.

Not surprisingly, Vlad worships Mikhail Glinka. "Herb! Play Russlan and Ludmilla!" When he asks for "Pyotr Ilyich," I groan and quietly put the vodka back in the freezer.

Herb Reichert  |  Dec 13, 2018  |  4 comments
I needed one black tiddledywink (not provided) to use Dr. Feickert Analogue's three-speed, two-motor, two-armboard Blackbird turntable. The tiddledywink was for covering the Blackbird's painfully bright power-on LED so that it didn't blind me when I cued up a record. The first night, in my dark listening room, this tiny indicator sprayed the wall behind and the ceiling above with more light than a bright-emitting 845 vacuum tube.
Stereophile Staff  |  Dec 12, 2018  |  2 comments
Friday December 14, at 3pm and 6pm, Fidelis (460 Amherst Street, Nashua, NH 03063) are presenting "An Afternoon with Michael Fremer" (above). Saturday, December 15, 11am–3pm, House of Stereo (8780 Perimeter Park Ct #100, Jacksonville, FL 32216) are hosting their 2019 KEF Product Launch event.
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 11, 2018  |  3 comments
Wayne Shorter is 85. His mind moves at warp speed, a million miles from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, who rescued him from Newark, New Jersey—or the Miles Davis's second great quintet, for which the saxophonist wrote the compositions that would establish his genius. Shorter's constellation of classic Blue Note recordings from 1964–67—Night Dreamer, JuJu, The All Seeing Eye, ETC, The Soothsayer, Adam's Apple, Speak No Evil, Schizophrenia—is now but a dim cluster of stars in his ever-expanding musical galaxy.
Richard Lehnert  |  Dec 11, 2018  |  1 comments
Keith Jarrett: La Fenice
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 2601/02 (2 CDs). 2018. Keith Jarrett, prod.; Martin Pearson, eng.; Christoph Stickel, Manfred Eicher, mastering, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 97:47
Performance *****
Sonics *****

This July 2006 concert, performed in Venice's Gran Teatro La Fenice, is Keith Jarrett's seventh recording of the shorter solo-piano improvisations he's explored since the early 2000s, after chronic fatigue syndrome robbed him of the stamina needed to improvise for unbroken stretches of nearly an hour. Despite their many high points, none of its six predecessors—Tokyo Solo, Radiance, Carnegie Hall, Testament, Rio, Creation—matched the cumulative power and depth of his best long-form improvisations: Köln, Sun Bear, Bregenz München, Paris. This one does.

Stereophile Staff  |  Dec 10, 2018  |  45 comments
Yes, the January 2019 issue of Stereophile is hitting newsstands, mailboxes, and tablets this week. And to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our going from a digest-sized publication to a full-sized one, we have recreated the cover of the January 1994 issue, the "musicality vs accuracy" debate as strong today as it was a quarter-century ago. The 25th anniversary edition of the same Cary tube amplifier is featured on the cover and in this issue's review section, but instead of the solid-state Krell we had on the 1994 cover, we have the solid-state Cambridge Edge A integrated amplifier which is also reviewed in this issue.

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