Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Latest Favorite Downloads

Okay, trust me, I haven't abandoned LPs, CDs, or SACDs for musical media, but I have recently jumped on the digital download bandwagon.  Why?  Two reasons ... 1) sometimes I just don't want to wait to receive my CDs in the mail, and 2) I'm interested in the prospect of listening to studio masters.  There appears to be some debate in the audiophile community as to whether 24-bit, 192 kHz studio masters are worth the money and extra hard drive space, but I'm willing to consider them.  They are, though, quite expensive compared to downloading the standard 320 kbs mp3 or even the 16-bit FLAC files.

In any case, I just thought I'd share with you some of the more interesting downloads I've purchased in recent days.  Some of these were purchased out of curiosity ( has a 50% off album download each hour, if you are willing to keep refreshing your screen hourly), some by recommendation ( or  If you have some recommended downloads, I'd love to hear from you.

Faure:  The Complete Barcarolles, Trois Romances sans paroles.  Charles Owen, piano.  Avie Records.
This is a lovely solo piano album.  Charles Owen plays these works with such a beautiful touch, the music really sings.  I wasn't familiar with these works before purchasing this recording, but they will make for enjoyable listening in the future.  It will be interesting to compare this Faure album to one which Angela Hewitt will release this fall on Hyperion.  This album came highly recommended in Fanfare.

Franz von Suppe:  Overtures and Marches.  Neeme Jarvi, Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  Chandos.
Recommended by Fanfare, BBC Music, Gramophone, Musicweb International.  I don't normally listen to a lot of Suppe, but this is a fun album.  It starts off with the Light Cavalry Overture, which almost everyone will recognize if they don't already by name.  Neeme Jarvi has put out a number of fantastic sounding orchestral albums on the Chandos label in the last couple of years.  If you like this, try his Saint-Saens Orchestral Works album on Chandos which came out last year.  This Suppe album is one to turn up the volume ... 

Rachmaninov:  The "Elegiac" Piano Trios.  The Borodin Trio.  Chandos. 
Found it 50% off and went for it.  I like the Rachmaninov Trios, even if they are not considered to be his finest works.  I've been looking for a good recording of these works and decided on this one.  The only version I have is one included in the Brilliant Classics boxed set of Historical Russian Archives of Leonid Kogan.  Hyperion will re-release the Moscow Trio's recording on its Helios label later this summer.  Any of you have a recommendation?

Debussy, Poulenc, Ravel, Francaix:  Piano Concertos.  Florian Uhlig, piano.  Pablo Gonzalez, conductor.  Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbruecken Kaiserlautern.  Hanssler Classic.
I recently read a very positive review of this album on (rated 9/9) and was curious to give it a shot.  I guess everyone has their favorite recordings of these works, particularly the Ravel Piano Concerto and the Poulenc, but this is one of the first times (if not the first) that I've seen them grouped together like this.  It makes for some very interesting listening!  I really enjoyed this album.  The performances were excellent, and the sound was superb.  Very clear, very dynamic, nicely balanced.  This stands up there with the Bavouzet French piano concertos album on Chandos.

Ravel:  Complete Works for Piano and Violin.  Lena Neudauer, violin.  Paul Rivinius, piano.  Julian Steckel, cello.  Hanssler Classic.
Got this based on a positive review in Gramophone.  I had not heard of Lena Neudauer before this album, but based on my impressions of it I might be interested in her future recordings.  I've only listened to this album once so far, but it's growing on me.  Would be interesting to do a comparison with the recent Hyperion release with Alina Ibragimova and Cedric Tiberghien. 

In the Mists.  Janacek, Schubert, Liszt, Rachmaninov.  Ivana Gavric.  Champs Hill Records.
I've read some positive articles and reviews about this pianist but thought I'd use the 50% off sale to take the opportunity to explore her work.   Will comment more later.

Ravel:  Daphnis et Chloe, Bolero, Pavane.  Valery Gergiev, London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.  LSO Live.
I find it hard to turn down recordings of Ravel's orchestral music, since he is one of my favorite composers, and it's even harder if recorded in excellent sound.  I'm giving this one a shot.

Vivaldi:  The Four Seasons, La Tempesta di Mare, Il Piacere.  Cho-Liang Lin, violin.  Sejong.  Anthony Newman, harpsichord and organ.  Naxos.
Another recording of the Four Seasons???  Well, yes.  I happen to really like Cho-Liang Lin's playing, and I wanted to check out his performance of these concertos.  Haven't gotten through all of them yet, but they are so far delightful.  La tempesta di mare is one of my favorite Vivaldi violin concertos, so its presence on this album is a nice bonus for me.


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