Music and Recording Features

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John Atkinson, Igor Kipnis  |  Jun 08, 1996  |  0 comments
"Rarely, if ever, can this densely written sonata have been presented so lucidly with each note precisely in place...the dramatic and lyrical aspects were never slighted or taken for granted."
—Peter G. Davis, writing in the New York Times about Robert Silverman's New York debut in 1978, when he performed the Liszt B-Minor Piano Sonata in Alice Tully Hall.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  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  |  Jul 31, 2018  |  2 comments
We who love recordings of massed voices have learned the hard way that some succeed in blending vocal clarity with acoustic resonance, while others deliver echo-muddied jumbles. Happily, some very fine choral recordings have come my way in the last six months. Along with John Atkinson's acoustically stunning engineering of recordings by the vocally gifted Portland State Chamber Choir and the all-male ensemble Cantus, these aural documents do composers proud.
Richard Lehnert  |  Nov 17, 1987  |  0 comments
Frank Zappa on CD (and LP), Part I
Stereophile Vol.10 No.8, November 1987
Robert Baird  |  Oct 15, 2015  |  1 comments
Playing the blues gets old fast. Since this most fundamental American popular music, stopped being the African-American party music of choice, and became a traditional music, celebrated as the precursor of rock'n'roll, blues players face a stark choice: change, or be content with playing small clubs and bars.
Robert Baird  |  Jun 27, 2017  |  2 comments
New Age. Most of it was acoustic. While there were vocals here and there, much of it featured instrumentalists playing solo or in groups. Some of it was meant to alleviate stress. Some of it was marginally connected to a similarly named movement in spirituality. Environmentalism and respect for nature were constant themes. Some New Age artists created moody, ambient sounds that were intended as background music, to promote healing and relaxation.
Robert Baird  |  Sep 15, 2011  |  0 comments
Big bands died out back in the 1950s, right? They went away when the jitterbug faded and folks began dancing to music other than swing? And then real jazz fans departed when the bebop soloists came along and made big-band players look clumsy and quaint?
Thomas Conrad  |  Aug 01, 2019  |  3 comments
Early in 2019, three jazz CDs appeared on a new record label. They were Jason Palmer's Rhyme and Reason, Johnathan Blake's Trion (both double CDs), and Eric Alexander's Leap of Faith. The label was Giant Step Arts.

Given that hundreds of jazz records—many of them good— are released every month, and that new jazz labels pop up all the time, is the release of three new albums really news?

Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 06, 2019  |  0 comments
What better way to get into the proper frame of mind for Munich High End than by listening to native German speaker baritone Matthias Goerne’s new recording of Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 24—Kerner-Lieder Op. 35, with accompaniment by the distinguished piano soloist Leif Ove Andsnes? It’s available on CD (Harmonia Mundi HMM902353), as a download (up to 96/24), and streaming.
Robert Baird  |  Mar 05, 2014  |  2 comments
As songwriters go, Guy Clark has been touched by the muse more than most. Unfortunately, in recent years he's also been visited by illness and heartache. In June 2012, his wife of 40 years, Susanna Clark, who was both a songwriter ("Easy from Now On") and an artist (the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust), died in Nashville. In the past several years Clark, 72, has battled lymphoma, had his knees replaced, and undergone an arterial replacement in one leg. He was being treated for skin cancer when I visited his home, south of Nashville, in October 2013.
Jim Austin  |  Jun 19, 2018  |  45 comments
Photos: Jim Austin

I'm sitting in a rented Nissan just off Highway 61—yes, that Highway 61—looking out at a Shell station through the bug-stained windshield and across a litter-strewn, not-yet-planted cotton field. It's late March, and I've just left Clarksdale, Mississippi, on my way to Memphis. Leaving Clarksdale made me thoughtful, so I've pulled over to jot down a few notes.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 30, 2019  |  4 comments
It's 150 years since that quintessential French Romantic, Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803–1869), left the planet. A near-contemporary of the equally romantic Chopin, Gounod, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Liszt, Berlioz shared with Meyerbeer (1791–1864) and Wagner (1813–1883) a propensity to express his passions and fantasies in music that sometimes unfolded slowly as it extended drama to extraordinary lengths.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 22, 2016  |  6 comments
I am sad to report that, 19 years to the day after I recorded her performing Schulhoff's Sonata for Solo Violin for Stereophile's Duet CD, Ida Levin passed away on Friday November 18, after a lengthy battle with leukemia. She was 53. Our condolences to her family, her fellow musicians, her students, and to all who, like me, were thrilled by her playing. As a tribute to Ida, from now until January 1, 2017, we are offering Duet to our readers free of charge (though we will still have to charge shipping and handling).
Kalman Rubinson  |  Mar 25, 2007  |  0 comments
Iván Fischer, founder and conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, has performed with many major orchestras and recorded for a number of major labels, most significantly with Philips, from 1995 to 2004. Fischer/BFO made the first multichannel orchestral recording for SACD, which Philips used as a demonstration disc for their first SACD players. I still treasure that disc—it demonstrates many of the advantages of the medium with a wide and varied program—but it has never been commercially released.
Robert Baird  |  Jan 29, 2015  |  8 comments
For famously civilized and jaded New York City, the crowd at the resplendent Beacon Theatre is uncommonly involved. Loud requests, many in tangled liquor dialects, boom from the balcony:

"'REDNECK FRIEND'!"

Onstage, Jackson Browne smiles and shakes his head.

"'COCAINE'!"

"I could do that, but it would have to be the rehab version." [crowd roars]

"'FOR A DANCER'!"

Oh, wait—I'm yelling that.

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