Jason Victor Serinus

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Mar 15, 2023  |  6 comments
Stravinsky: Violin Concerto & Chamber Works
Isabelle Faust, violin; Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth, cond.
Harmonia Mundi 902718 (reviewed as 24/96 WAV download). 2023. Jiri Heger, prod.; Aurélien Bourgois & Alix Ewald, engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

You might think that by 1931—the year Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) completed his unforgettable Violin Concerto in D Major—orchestral instruments were the same as those used today. Far from it. According to the website of Claire Givens Violins, pure-gut D strings began to disappear after WWI and were wound with aluminum after WWII. Gut A strings ceded to synthetics in 1970, and gut E strings transitioned to steel between 1910 and WWII. With no consistency between modern orchestras, the string sections we hear in live performances and on electrical recordings set down since 1926 are, for the most part, a grab bag. Wind instruments and pianos have changed as well, and halls have increased in size and pitch has risen. Put all that together, and you can well understand why this "period instrument" recording of music Stravinsky completed between 1907 and 1931 is a revelation.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Mar 13, 2023  |  1 comments

Music Matters, the mostly annual audio showcase from Definitive Audio in Seattle, made a welcome return March 8–9 after a two-year pandemic-imposed hiatus. Divided into two two-hour sessions, the 16th edition of the private, ultra-concentrated audio show in miniature saw invitees moving between 20-minute presentations in four rooms, with ample time left for visiting systems in two others and schmoozing with industry legends.

Between several national and regional product premieres, presenters at Music Matters 2023 emphasized the importance of Definitive Audio (with locations in Seattle and Bellevue) to their brands. As if to underscore the dealership's centrality, star presenters include David Steven, CEO of Cambridge, England–based dCS, audio legend Dan D'Agostino of Arizona-based Dan D'Agostino Master Systems, Mike Latvis (aka Mr. HRS) of Buffalo, New York's Harmonic Resolution Systems), and Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings, which imports and distributes Clearaudio.

Jason Victor Serinus, Stephen Francis Vasta  |  Mar 09, 2023  |  0 comments
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Schubert: Piano Trios • Notturno • Rondo • Arpeggione Sonata; Elgar: Viola Concerto & Suite for Viola & Orchestra; Johann Sebastian Bach: The Well-Tempered Consort—III.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 17, 2023  |  23 comments
Within seconds after hitting play on the 2006 remaster of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," played back with the dCS Vivaldi Apex DAC, what I thought would be a lovely opportunity to wax nostalgic morphed into something far deeper. The first few bars of the song grabbed us like nothing else we'd listened to over the past 10 days. Flack's complete calm, unwavering focus, and unapologetic intimacy took our breath away. The soundstage was wide, the silence profound, the presentation pristine. The beauty of Flack's voice and passion, enhanced by John Pizzarelli's guitar, Ron Carter's bass, and Ray Lucas's drums, transformed the music room into a holy sanctuary. Toward the end of the first verse, right before "To the dark and the endless skies," I rose long enough to turn off the lights. We sat together in silence, barely breathing.
Jason Victor Serinus, Stephen Francis Vasta  |  Feb 09, 2023  |  0 comments
Ruby Hughes: Echo: Songs Across the Ages; Anne-Sophie Mutter: Brahms Double Concerto & Clara Schumann Piano Trio; Mozart in Milan; Ben-Haim: Symphony No.1; Weinberg: Symphonies Nos.3 & 7, Flute Concerto No.1.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 03, 2023  |  46 comments
Almost five years after I submitted my review of Dynaudio's Focus 200 XD class-D active bookshelf loudspeaker—my first product review for Stereophile—word of its imminent successor, the digital Focus 10 class-D active bookshelf loudspeaker ($5500/pair), and its two larger siblings arrived via Mike Manousselis, Dynaudio North America's president, Americas. Then came the near-ubiquitous parts shortages and COVID-related slowdowns that have plagued high-end manufacturers worldwide.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 18, 2023  |  3 comments
Caroline Shaw: The Wheel
I Giardini: Shuichi Okada, violin; Léa Hennino, viola; Pauline Buet, cello; Eriko Minami, percussion; David Violi, piano
Alpha 881 (24/192 WAV download). 2022. Olivier Rosset, prod., edit., mastering.
Performance *****
Sonics *****

Prolific composer, vocalist, and violinist Caroline Shaw, who turned 40 just last year, possesses a unique gift—one that earned her the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Shaw has translated the old performer edict "Don't let them see you sweat" into her compositional craft and mastered the art of expressing complex thoughts economically through the simplest of means. Using minimal gestures, spare instrumentation, and unpredictable shifts in rhythm, pitch, and texture, she manages to create one masterful, all-engrossing composition after the other.

Jason Victor Serinus, Stephen Francis Vasta  |  Jan 13, 2023  |  1 comments
Nielsen: Symphonies 4 (The Inextinguishable) & 5, Mozart: The Prussian Quartets, Mahler: Symphony 5 and Julia Bullock: Walking in the Dark.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 22, 2022  |  19 comments
In the very first copy of Stereophile I encountered, back when issues were digest size, one review infuriated me. The writer went on at inordinate length about the fine wines he'd consumed during the review period. On and on he went, gushing about the costly drinks, until I exclaimed (in a sentence laced with expletives), "What in the world does any of this have to do with audio?!"
Jason Victor Serinus, Stephen Francis Vasta  |  Dec 16, 2022  |  1 comments
Tchaikovsky: Symphony 5, Rimsky-Korsakov: Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh—Suite, Mahler: Symphony No.5, Vaughan Williams: String Quartets 1, 2; Holst: Phantasy Quartet and John Luther Adams: Sila: The Breath of the World.