Free – Tons Of Sobs (1968) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2014] [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Free – Tons Of Sobs (1968) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2014 # UIGY-9564]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 52:23 minutes | Scans included | 2,13 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 1,00 GB
Genre: Rock

Although Free was never destined to scrape the same skies as Led Zeppelin, when they first burst out of the traps in 1968, close to a year ahead of Jimmy Page and company, they set the world of British blues-rock firmly on its head, a blistering combination of youth, ambition, and, despite those tender years, experience that, across the course of their debut album, did indeed lay the groundwork for all that Zeppelin would embrace. That Free and Zeppelin were cut from the same cloth is immediately apparent, even before you start comparing the versions of “The Hunter” that highlight both bands’ debut albums. Where Free streaks ahead, however, is in their refusal to compromise their own vision of the blues — even at its most commercial (“I’m a Mover” and “Worry”), Tons of Sobs has a density that makes Zeppelin and the rest of the era’s rocky contemporaries sound like flyweights by comparison. The 2002 remaster of the album only amplifies the fledgling Free’s achievements. With remastered sound that drives the record straight back to the studio master tapes, the sheer versatility of the players, and the unbridled imagination of producer Guy Stevens, rings crystal clear. Even without their visionary seer, however, Free impresses — three bonus tracks drawn from period BBC sessions are as loose as they are dynamic, and certainly make a case for a full Free-at-the-Beeb type collection. Of the other bonuses, two offer alternate versions of familiar album tracks, while “Guy Stevens Jam” is reprised from the Songs of Yesterday box set to further illustrate the band’s improvisational abilities. As if they needed it.

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Free – Free Live! (1971) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2014] [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Free – Free Live! (1971) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2014 # UIGY-9565]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 40:42 minutes | Scans included | 1,64 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 806 MB
Genre: Rock

Although Free made excellent studio records, Free “Live” is perhaps the best way to experience the band in all its glory. Led by singer-guitarist Paul Rodgers and lead guitarist Paul Kosoff, the band swings through nine songs with power, clarity, and a dose of funk. Of course, the hit single “All Right Now” is gleefully extended, much to the audience’s and listener’s delight. Superbly recorded by Andy Johns, this is one of the greatest live albums of the 1970s.

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Frederic Chopin – Arthur Rubinstein / Wallenstein / Skrowaczewski – Piano Concertos (2005) [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Frederic Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21
Arthur Rubinstein – New Symphony Orchestra / Stanislaw Skrowaczewski & Symphony of the Air / Alfred Wallenstein
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 2,60 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,24 GB | Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: RCA Red seal “Living Stereo” # 82876-67902-2 | Country/Year: US 2005, 1958-1961
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic

This is absolutely the best recording of Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concertos! I heard many recordings of these familiar works (for example: Zimmermann, Polish Festival Orchestra, DG), but this recording beats my all old favorites.
1) The recording quality is excellent. Their were made in 1958 and 1961, but still sound is very clear. Unfortunately this isn’t five-channel hybrid recording, there is only three-channel engineering. Music comes only from both middle speakers and front speaker.
2) Rubinstein is brilliant pianist, maybe the greatest of all time! First Concerto sounds very effectively, and peaceful second movement is performed beautifully. Second Concerto is also outstanding, and fast finale is breathtaking!
3) The booklet and SACD are packaged nicely in a strong jewel case.
This is excellent purchase for all classical music lovers! It is very good, that Living Stereo label publishes old masterful recordings on multi-channel SACD! Incredible!

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Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Rage Hard: The Sonic Collection (2001) [2.0 & 5.1] [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Rage Hard: The Sonic Collection (2001) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 64:34 minutes | Scans included | 4,24 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 66:23 mins | Scans | 1,29 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Genre: Synthpop

Rage Hard: A Sonic Collection is a greatest hits album by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, released in 2004 by ZTT Records, exclusively to SA-CD. The album takes its name from a song title from the band’s Liverpool album. The track listing is a mixture of singles and album tracks. The band’s seven singles are accounted for here, in their album versions. Also featured are the four cover versions the band committed to album. This SACD pressing reproduced by legendary original Frankie Goes To Hollywood producer Trevor Horn.

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Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live In New York City (2001) [2xSACD 2.0 & 5.1] [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live In New York City (2001) [2xSACD]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 122:56 minutes | Scans included | 9,43 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 2,76 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround — The entire HBO concert plus 6 more tracks | Genre: Rock

Compared to the gargantuan Live/1975-85, 2001′s Live in New York City seems like the very definition of restraint, but consider this — not only does it span two discs, it leaves out a considerable portion of the set list from the show and thereby the set list of Springsteen’s celebrated 2000 reunion with the E Street Band. Some critics complained that this record was little more than a tie-in to the HBO special of the same name, but even if that’s true, the record would have merit since it illustrates exactly why this group should never have parted ways. In a sense, even if this is the third live album in Springsteen’s catalog, it’s the first that attempts to replicate the feeling of an evening out with the E Street Band (the Live/1975-85 box tried too hard to be an ultimate experience; MTV Plugged captured a transitional phase). Though most reunions feel a little forced, this feels natural, yet never nostalgic, since the track listing never relies on the predictable. There are no hits in the conventional sense — outside of “Born in the U.S.A.” tucked away on the second disc and an initially uncredited “Born to Run” — but there are many fan favorites interspersed with a few obscurities and new songs, most notoriously the protest song “American Skin (41 Shots).” This works in Springsteen’s favor, since there’s no pandering — only the joy of making music with the band that understands him best. This doesn’t really result in something essential, even if the new songs are quite good, but if you’ve ever been a fan, it’s hard not to warm to Live in New York City.

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Bill Frisell – Richter 858 (2005) [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Bill Frisell – Richter 858
SACD ISO (2.0): 1,79 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 790 MB | Full Artwork: 110 MB
Label/Cat#: Songlines # SGL SA1551-2 | Country/Year: Canada 2005 | 3% Recovery Info
Genre: Rock, Avant-Garde, Jazz | Style: Modern Classical, Ambient Rock, Jazz Guitar

Review by Sean Westergaard
The music from Richter 858 was originally commissioned and recorded to accompany a book of paintings by Gerhard Richter, which was only available in limited quantities back in 2002. Tony Reif of Songlines decided to rescue the recordings from obscurity, and re-released them in early 2005. The band is Frisell on guitar and delay, Eyvind Kang on viola, Jenny Scheinman on violin, and Frisell’s old bandmate Hank Roberts on cello. The pieces were directly inspired by a specific painting, and recorded live to two-track with no editing or overdubs. In the booklet are thoughts and guidelines given to Frisell by producer David Breskin and an interview on the subject with Frisell, and they shed a great deal of light on the process of how this music was created. Since art is, of course, a subjective thing, you may or may not feel that the music directly relates to the paintings, but there’s no denying that this is a fascinating project. The majority of the songs are built on simple repeated figures, and the players all seem free to embellish and improvise on top of that. Frisell’s delays play a major role in this music (Breskin points out that Richter’s technique of applying a squeegee to wet oil paint is analogous to Frisell “smearing” notes by manipulating his delay), and the way he uses the delayed guitar signal to complement, and in some cases mimic, the strings is quite amazing (remember, this was done live with no editing). It’s been years since Frisell has made such extensive use of the delay, but he’s still an absolute master. There is also a minimalist quality to the pieces, but the interplay between guitar, delay and strings keeps them from becoming static. Most of this album is quite serene and beautiful, although there are a couple of hairier moments. The paintings themselves are also reproduced in the booklet, and also as enhanced content on the disc itself, which is encoded for Super Audio playback. This is a very interesting new sound for Bill Frisell, and apparently this band is developing more music together outside the scope of the original project. Recommended. ~allmusicguide

This sumptuously presented hybrid stereo SACD is enthusiatically recommended to listeners of contemporary classical, especially fans of the Kronos quartet. It will appeal to avant garde art aficionados, and with its complex electric guitar and electronics tracks, also to rock music lovers. is the website of the lead artist and composer, the jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. He plays electric guitar, which is further manipulated by electronics. The other artists are a string trio of violin, cello and viola. The music comprises eight untitled tracks based on a series of abstract paintings. The music is a live two-track analogue recording, mastered to DSD for the stereo SACD layer, and to HDCD for the PCM layer.

The artist behind the paintings, entitled ‘858’, is the contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter. This very important figure is usually classified as a ‘pop painter’. His ongoing 45-year artistic career commenced in the early 60s, but unlike most pop artists his work includes numerous elaborate abstract paintings. These works, painted on the unusual surface of sheet aluminium, are displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

There is a not inconsiderable body of art inspired by music and vice versa. Berg’s string quartets have led to more than one set of abstract paintings, but on this SACD, the influence is art on music. However, there seems to have been no direct creative contact between the painter and these musicians.

This is probably the most elaborate SACD I have encountered. The thick booklet, printed on magazine style glossy paper, has full page colour reproductions of all the art works, plus commentaries by and an interview of Bill Frisell. Where the multichannel SACD layer would normally be lies a CD-ROM layer. This incorporates multimedia which is PC and Mac capable. This disc on a computer has two replay options : the PCM layer, or a MP3 layer tied to a ‘real time’ gallery of the eight paintings synchronised to the music. As one hears the MP3 layer, you can choose to see the entire painting on screen, or autoplay through details which presumably are the sections which directly inspired the music currently playing. On a good computer display, the colours of these abstract paintings are breathtaking. This SACD really is a labour of love.

Frisell in the booklet notes says, “I expect the music will delve deep into the language of the electric guitar. These are shimmering, electric paintings. They hold, bury, mix, and reveal a lot of visual noise– beautiful, aching, sweet, painful noise….. The music should not be ‘pretty’ in the conventional or sentimental way, because the paintings are simply not…. Given the structures and methods of the paintings… I think there is a rightness to this architecture of electric guitar [ the modern, the postmodern ] with acoustic strings [ the historical, the tradition…].”

Unfortunately for the casual browser, the disc starts with dissonant chord clusters which seem intent on outdoing the famously acerbic opening of George Crumb’s 1970 string quartet, ‘Black Angels’. Although this makes an arresting opening with avant-garde street cred, it really isn’t typical of the more gentle pieces which follow. The two most well known string quartets specialising in avant-garde classical, the Kronos and the Arditti, have generally mutually exclusive repertoire. Frisell’s compositions sound far more congenial to the ‘Califunkiness’ of the Kronos quartet rather than the patrician modernist airs of the Arditti’s core repertoire.

The third, fourth and fifth pieces would be the best places to start for the listener. Frisell typically composes short melodic and rhythmic cells, tonal and unassuming. These are then repeated, for instance in an ostinato for the cello, while the electric guitar and associated electronics enters to overlay progressively more elaborate soundscapes. Compared to, say, the later Boulez or Xenakis works for electronics and acoustic instruments, Frisell’s melodic fragments can sound a little naive– say, like the Styrian waltz which pops up in Stravinsky’s ‘Petrouchka’. The electronic and guitar elements also fall short of the complexities in Boulez or Xenakis. This actually means that Frisell’s work should appeal to wider sections of the genuinely curious musical public. However, there is a degree of shrewdness in Frisell’s simple thematic germs. One really isn’t sure whether this naivety is deliberate, to be counterpointed by the more sophisticated electronic domain, the way that Stravinsky embeds that little waltz in ‘Petrouchka’. However, these tonal kernels do have the function of acting as anchors in what could otherwise be a too formidable morsel for may listeners. Playing this SACD through several times, I appreciated the compositions’ ability to retain sustained interest, picking up thematic and textural connections not evident on first hearing. The opening of the first movement aside, I was left with the general impression of searching, unpredictable yet searching compositions. A playful element of scattiness in some sections is a refreshing tonic to the more high minded and academic branches of contemporary classical music.

Copyright © 2008 Ramesh Nair and

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Beethoven – Herbert Kegel / Dresdner Philharmonie – Symphonies 3 & 1 (2003, 1982 & 1983) [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphonies 3 & 1
Herbert Kegel / Dresdner Philharmonie
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 4,35 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,20 GB | Full Artwork
Label/Cat#: Capriccio # SACD 71 008 | Country/Year: Germany 2003 | 3% Recovery Info
Genre: Classical | Style: Viennese School

Artist Biography by Adrian Corleonis

Known in the United States primarily as the conductor of a surefire recording of Orff’s Carmina Burana, Herbert Kegel was respected in Europe as a pivotal figure in establishing the works of such individual Modernists as Blacher, Dallapiccola, Dessau, Penderecki, and Nono in the concert hall and on discs. He was one of the first to champion Britten’s War Requiem, while his recording of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron was instrumental in keeping this difficult and challenging work before the public. His involvement with Orff’s music typifies the duality of a distinguished career whose impact is not yet fully appreciated and whose legacy remains to be assimilated, for beside the ever-popular Carmina Burana, Kegel also recorded — superbly — the remaining cantatas, Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite, speech-inflected works the composer regarded as parts of a single cycle of Trionfi and that look ahead to the uncompromising utterance of his Antigonae and Oedipus der Tyrann. Kegel studied at the Dresden Conservatory, where Karl Böhm was one of his teachers, from 1935 to 1940, beginning his career, after serving as a conscript during the war in 1946, as kapellmeister of the Volkstheater Rostock. From 1949 to 1978 he was associated with the Leipzig Radio Orchestra & Choir, becoming choirmaster, music director, and principal conductor of the Great Radio Orchestra and Radio Choir in 1953. He became principal conductor of the Leipzig Symphony Orchestra & Choir in 1960. In 1977 he was named principal conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic, a post he held until 1985. From 1985 until his death he frequently appeared as guest conductor at the Dresden and Leipzig opera houses, the Staatsoper Berlin, and the NHK Orchestra, Tokyo. Teaching engagements included a professorship with the Mendelssohn Bartholdy Hochschule für Musik in Leipzig from 1975 until 1978, and a Dresden master class in 1980. Kegel’s grasp extended over the standard repertoire, from Bach to Stravinsky, though his center of interest revolved around the German Romantics, Bruckner and Mahler in particular, and the Modernists, great and minor — Hartmann, Honegger, or Theodorakis no less than Bartók, Berg, and Hindemith — with a smattering of such audience pleasers as Carmen and Margarethe (that is, Gounod’s Faust for German audiences). Several recordings — including Carmina Burana and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 — feature distinguished solo work by Kegel’s second wife, soprano Celestina Casapietra. His manner was without affectation or grandiosity, rhythmically alert and lyrically poised, always efficient and often inspired. He committed suicide in Dresden on November 20, 1990. ~allmusicguide

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Anton Heiller – J.S. Bach. Organ Works (2004) [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Anton Heiller – J.S. Bach. Organ Works (2004)
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 43:39 minutes | Scans included (PDF) | 1,76 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included (PDF) | 872 MB
Genre: Classical

Anton Heiller (1923-1979) was one of the great organists of his time. He was also renowned as a keyboard improviser in the tradition of Bach himself, as evidenced in many of the recordings he made for Vanguard Classics.
Vanguard Classics remade this collection of organ warhorses from J.S. Bach (1675-1750) in 2004, redoing their earlier failed stereo collection that originally included the Bach warhorse of all warhorses, the Tocatta and Fuuge in D minor BWV 565. Thankfully, Vangauard left it out of this collection.
The Austrian organist Anton Heiller made this recording on Vangaurd HM 73 and it was also issued as Bach Guild BGS-70675. For the performance on this recording, he selected the organ at the St. Mary Church in Helsingborg in Sweden. It was previously available on CD in the Organ Works by Bach and other recordings of variable quality. This version is the best-sounding one yet, produced by Artemus Records, which purchased the Vanguard Classics line from Omega Records in 2003. A lengthy discussion on this is included in the well-written but difficult to read seven pages of notes that accompany this issue.

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Anton Bruckner – Carl Schuricht – Symphony No. 8 & Symphony No. 9 (2012, 1961 & 1963) {2x Hybrid-SACD} [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1890) / Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Wiener Philharmoniker / Carl Schuricht (conductor)
2xSACD ISO (Stereo): 5,11 GB | 2x24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 2,26 GB | Full Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: EMI Classics “Signature Series” # 50999 9 55984 2 0 | Country/Year: UK 2012, 1961 & 1963
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic, Orchestral

First of all, let me tell you that I am not a musician in the proper sense. By this I mean that I am not a player (though sometimes I struggle with my double-bass…) but a listener.
(And for the record, I think that we, the listeners, are as important for the music as the players themselves, because if we are not there to attend, playing should be no less that infertile and meaningless)
For so many times I’ve read reviews wrote by musicians, also intended for musicians that have to know every term in it to understand why the interpretation was good enough, or not. From scholars to scholars.
In my case, listening to music has to do with pleasure and not with any other approach. I’ve always thought that when a well known conductor at the podium gives us his interpretation of a piece of music, he knows how to read a score quite well, and his decisions are taken seriously after a thoughtful study.
Then we come in, and we like it or we don’t. And for me that is all what matters.
Now, I will speak briefly about this SACD, because I cannot say anything more than this: it is a miracle. The way EMI remastered these old takes from 1961 and 1963 is astonishing. I am not saying that this SACD will sound as perfect as a new production, but… what levels of mastery had those technicians in the past that used to edit the tape sometimes cutting it with razor blades.
Not to tell the clarity that Schuricht gives to the music. He is probably an old fashioned conductor for nowadays standards, as we can say about Furtwängler, Klemperer or Jochum, for example. But those good old days gave us lots of great musicians that are now a source of inspiration for the new stars.
Schuricht’s Eight is the Nowak Ed. (with some liberties taken by the conductor, as the booklet says and I quote: “…he never forgot that the conductor was ultimately in charge of a performance.”)
The scherzos of both Symphonies are taken at a beautifil fast speed but allowing you to hear all the fine details. And how beautiful are both Adagios, two of the more wonderful pieces of music ever written.
This music finds the Vienna Philharmonic at its best. And if you like Bruckner’s music this is a must.
I do remember when I’ve read an article that said that Bruckner was a sort of province musician with boring ideas, as Brahms thought about him: a kind of “symphonic boa-constrictor”. Well, for me, it is absolutely impossible to understand what happened next, at the end of the XIX century, with Mahler, Sibelius, etc, without the music of Anton Bruckner, one of the greatest composers ever.
Go and get it.

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Angela Hewitt – Piano Music by Emmanuel Chabrier (2006) [SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2]

Angela Hewitt – Piano Music by Emmanuel Chabrier (2006)
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 76:04 minutes | Artwork (PDF) | 3,51 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Artwork (PDF) | 1,12 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.0 multichannel surround sound | Hyperion Records # SACDA67515 | Genre: Classical

Anyone with a passing awareness of her wonderful recordings for Hyperion knows that Angela Hewitt is one of the world’s leading interpreters of Bach, and that she’s no slouch in recording works by Chopin, Couperin, Messiaen, and Ravel, either. Add to this distinguished roster the name of Emmanuel Chabrier, whose keyboard works Hewitt recorded in 2004, and rendered with as much technical polish and expressive depth as anyone could lavish on them. Whether or not such light and sometimes inconsequential piano music deserves special treatment, Hewitt is unstinting in her musicality, and she delivers colorful, idiomatic readings of these late nineteenth century miniatures that arguably make them sound better than they really are. All will agree that Hewitt’s sensitivity and skill are beyond dispute and that this program is an excellent showcase for her astonishing abilities; it is only secondarily of interest because of Chabrier’s music, which tends toward mildly picturesque vignettes at best and shallow parlor novelties at worst. In the former category are the late pieces, Aubade (1883), Habanera (1885), and Bourrée fantasque (1891), which exude sophistication and dry wit, and seem slightly ahead of their time; also worth hearing for their charming modern qualities are the posthumously published Ballabile, Caprice, and Feuillet d’album (all 1897). Something of a mixed bag is Dix pièces pittoresques (1881), which are character sketches and dances in a pretty salon style, but most are melodically trite, harmonically predictable, and emotionally superficial. The earliest works offered, the Impromptu (1873) and the Ronde champêtre (ca. 1870), are less compelling, except perhaps for a few eccentric harmonies and rhythms that vaguely anticipate Ravel; little else recommends them except their period color. So fans of Angela Hewitt will rejoice that she performs here with her usual brilliance and panache, but they may feel a little less jubilant about her choice of repertoire this time out. Hyperion’s recording, however, is sublime in every way.

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