LATEST ADDITIONS

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  2 comments
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch, conductor
RCA Victor LSC-2608 (LP). TT: 48:40

It is easy to forget that the hi-fi movements—the "March to the Scaffold" and the "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath"—comprise barely a third of the music in the Symphonie fantastique, yet when we listen to most of the available versions of this, we can understand why the first three movements are usually passed up by the record listener. Two are slow and brooding, one is a wispy sort of waltz, and all three require a certain combination of flowing gentleness and grotesquerie that few orchestras and fewer conductors can carry off. It is in these first three movements where most readings of Berlioz' best-known work fall flat. Either they are too sweetly pastoral or too episodic and choppy, or they degenerate into unreliered dullness.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  6 comments
"They expect 180,000 people this year," the Lyft driver told me as we headed to the Strip shortly after sunset. "That's 10,000 more than last year!"

Does that mean there will be 10,000 more gadgets on display?

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 06, 2019  |  3 comments
From last week's contemporary realities, as viewed through the lens of David Chesky, we move back in time to 1707–1710, when the emotionally overwrought women, mythological subjects, shepherds, shepherdesses, and nymphs of Handel Italian Cantatas were in vogue. If those subjects strike your fancy, and/or you love baroque artistry and great singing, this new Erato recording from Emmanuelle Haïm's Le Concert d'Astrée, French lyric coloratura soprano Sabine Devielhe, and Franco-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre belongs on your must-hear list.
Richard Lehnert  |  Jan 03, 2019  |  2 comments
Bruckner: String Quintet (arr. for Large Orchestra), Overture in g
Gerd Schaller, arr., cond.; Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
Profil PH16036 (CD). 2018. Milan Puklický, prod.; Jan Lzicar, eng. DDD. TT: 57:12
Performance ***
Sonics ****

Bruckner & Mahler: String Quintet (arr. for Chamber Orchestra) & Symphony 10: Adagio
Peter Stangel, arr., cond.; Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra
Edition Taschenphilharmonie/Sony ETP008 (CD). 2017. Sebastian Riederer von Paar, prod., eng., ed. DDD. TT: 59:12
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Bruckner's only mature chamber work, the String Quintet in F, has long sounded to many less like chamber music than like a Bruckner symphony squeezed into far smaller form. It's long, follows Bruckner's version of classical symphonic form, and is as meticulously composed and as contrapuntally intricate as his far larger-scaled symphonies. Like many of those, it has an alternate movement, an Intermezzo. In tenderness and poignancy, the Quintet's warm Adagio is close enough in depth and quality to its counterparts in Bruckner's symphonies 00 through 5 that it now exists in at least 11 arrangements (none by Bruckner) for string orchestra; three of those, the most popular being Hans Stadlmeier's, include the Quintet's three other movements.

Herb Reichert  |  Jan 03, 2019  |  49 comments
On the first page of the owner's manual for iFi Audio's Pro iDSD tubed/solid-state multibit DAC and headphone amplifier, the British company unabashedly describes it as "a 'state of the art' reference digital to analog converter" and "a wireless hi-res network player or the central DAC in an expensive high-end home system." As if in an afterthought, it continues: "The on-board balanced headphone section means high-end headphones can also be directly connected to it." The manual doesn't describe the headphone "section" as "state of the art," so I'm deducing that the Pro iDSD is really more a fancy-pants DAC than a high-tone headphone amp.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jan 02, 2019  |  0 comments
Saturday,January 5, 1:30–4:30pm, the Pacific Northwest Audio Society (Congregational Church, 4545 Island Crest Way, Mercer Island, WA 98040) is holding a J-Corder Technics event. The free analog source workshop will showcase the Reference Series 2018 products from Technics, including the SL-1000R Reference Class turntable and modified RS-1500 legacy open-reel tape recorder.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  45 comments
Among the many bits of audio lore that never have and probably never will be aired in public is the story of the amp that ignited the reviewer's curtains. (I assume that at least some of you hoped I was going to say "pants.") I can't tell it in any great detail, partly because the reviewer in question is a friend (though not a Stereophile colleague), and I'm not sure how much of the story he wants out there. In any event, my object here is to offer a long-overdue apology, to all concerned, for having laughed at that story over the years, because it has now happened to me—not the part about the curtains, but definitely the part about the burning amp.
James W. Keeler  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1962  |  8 comments
Britten: Noye's Fludde
Owen Brannigan, Sheila Rex, Trevor Anthony, Children's Chorus, and East Suffolk Children's Orchestra, Members of the English Chamber Orchestra, Norman Del Mar, conductor
London OS-25331 (LP). Colin Graham, prod. Recording date, 1961-07-03. Recording venue, Orford Church, Suffolk. TT: 48:00

This musical setting of the Chester miracle play about Noah, his ark, and the problems attendant thereof, if one of the most movingly beautiful recorded works I have ever heard. Its simplicity and sincerity are a stinging rebuke to those contemporary composers who have forgotten that music is basically an expression of emotion, without which its appeal can be only to the logic-oriented "mind" of a computing machine.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1963  |  1 comments
Mahler: Symphony No.1 in D ("The Titan")
Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Bruno Walter, conductor
Columbia MS-6394 (LP). John McClure, prod. TT: 52:15

This is one of those rare combinations of a superb recording and a stunning performance. As far as I'm concerned, it is the best Mahler First that Bruno Walter committed to discs during his lifetime, including the last one that he made with the New York Philharmonic. And the fact that this recording is far superior to that accorded Walter when he conducted the New York Philharmonic does not detract one bit from my feeling about this new release.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  3 comments
Many of us enter the New Year with a mixture of sorrow for our losses and hope for what lies ahead. While there's no right way to celebrate 2019's symbolic new start, one approach to creating space for the new is to pause long enough to acknowledge our lives and environment for exactly what they are at the present moment.

Cue David Chesky's Rap Symphony 2.0, a reworking of Chesky's original release currently available in download and video form.

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