James Horner – A Beautiful Mind: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2002) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

James Horner – A Beautiful Mind: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2002)
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 71:25 minutes | Full Art (PDF) | 4,33 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Art (PDF) | 1,29 GB

This Ron Howard film parlays the troubled story of Nobel laureate John Forbes Nash Jr., a gifted Princeton mathematics professor tormented for decades by paranoid schizophrenia, into something considerably richer than typical Hollywood triumph-against-all-odds fare. Howard has teamed here again with frequent collaborator James Horner, and it’s the composer who deftly shades the film’s difficult emotional landscape and helps impart a compelling humanity. Horner’s first task is not inconsiderable: musically portraying the arcane realm of mathematical theorems that are the story’s backdrop. In doing so, the composer leans heavily on modern minimalist technique, bright flourishes that recur briefly throughout an orchestral score that increasingly reflects Nash’s bleak inner landscape in its quietly somber and brooding tones. And while Horner has frequently been accused of excessively repeating himself in his scores, the neo-minimalist gambit employed on this reflectively pastoral, postmodernist soundscape neatly nips such criticism in the bud. Nash’s triumph is ultimately an intensely personal one, well reflected in Welsh soprano Charlotte Church’s lilting performance of the Horner/Will Jennings ballad “All Love Can Be”.

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Franz Adolf Berwald – RPO / Ivor Bolton – Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 (2005) {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Franz Adolf Berwald – Symphony No. 3 in C major “Sinfonie Singuliere” & Symphony No. 4 in E flat major “Sinfonie Naive”
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Ivor Bolton (conductor)
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 3,18 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 979 MB | Full Artwork: 91 MB
Label/Cat#: Membran # 222816-203 | Country/Year: Germany 2005 | 3% Recovery Info
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic

This is the only Membran from the current batch thats getting 5 stars for both recording quality and performance. I am very fond of this music having grown to like the Bjorlin box of his 4 symphonies concertos and poems. I totally disagree that the later DGG version was anywhere near as good in either lp or CD format. The Chandos release was slightly better than the DGG but I am now totally convinced that this version by the same orchestra as Bjorlin used is a winner.
These two of his best symphonies are some where between Mendlessohn/Schumann/ Brahms and Schubert in style. If you are not familiar with these works I would suggest you just buy them and then start asking why his other works are not available. To be honest only the Violin concerto rises to the same heights.
Interestingly enough this was recorded at CTS studios London and its slowly becoming clear as to which venues produced the better sonics in these pretty varied quality Membran reissues.Its also nice to have something other than the standard rep…
60 minutes of delight. Strong recommendation..usual average out of date booklet and artwork with usual shortish gap between movements .Doesnt matter here…best of the batch so far …Dave sa-cd.net

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Herbie Hancock – Flood (1975) [Japanese SACD Reissue 2007 # SICP-10075] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Herbie Hancock – Flood (1975) [Japanese SACD Reissue 2007 # SICP-10075]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 74:14 minutes | Scans included | 3,06 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,51 GB
Genre: Jazz

Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters take to the road in the live double album Flood, recorded and released only in Japan. Contrary to the impression left by his American releases at this time, Hancock was still very much attached to the acoustic piano, as his erudite opening workout on “Maiden Voyage/Actual Proof” with his funk rhythm section makes clear. The electric keyboards, mostly Rhodes piano and clavinet, make their first appearances on side two, where Hancock now becomes more of a funky adjunct to the rhythm section, bumping along with a superb feeling for the groove while Bennie Maupin takes the high road above on a panoply of winds. Except for “Voyage,” the tunes come from the Head Hunters, Thrust, and Man-Child albums (another reason why this was not released in the U.S.). “Chameleon” comes with a lengthy outbreak of machine pink noise that attests to Hancock’s wide-eyed love of gadgetry. In all, this was a great funk band, not all that danceable because of the rapid complexities of Mike Clark’s drumming, and quite often, full of harmonic depth and adventure.

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Haftor Medboe Group – In Perpetuity (2006) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Haftor Medbøe Group – In Perpetuity (2006) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 44:25 minutes | Scans included | 2,53 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 819 MB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Linn Records # AKD 277
Genre: Jazz

The imaginative debut recording of Haftor Medboe Group who excel in creating deep grooves and delicate textures through bold and vibrant sax lines combined with trombone, guitar and percussion…

Diversity and innovation in music often comes when tender characters are cooking and swinging. Guitarist Haftor Medboe from Norway, mixes up different cultures, bringing into his new release the sundry voices of Scottish saxophonist Susan Mckenzie, Australian trombonist Chris Greive and Icelandic percussionist Signy Jakobsdottir. To this line up he has also added the famous Edinburgh String Quartet and Kenny MacDonald’s electronic knowledge.

“In Perpetuity” is the second album of the Medboe quartet. Recorded in Scotland (precisely in Edinburgh in 2004), this album fetches a jazzy, electro-funky rhythm coupled with an embroiled string section. Each voice is wonderfully heard and the arrangements are out-inspired.

Haftor Medboe’s release conveys stunning moments of classical and jazz hitched onto Metheny , Frisell and Reich-like influences. Furthermore, the album is sonically produced, outlandish and finicky.

Medboe is without a doubt a gifted guitarist able to paint soundscapes with his many different palettes. His cohort’s input is worth listening to. Susan Mckenzie’s soprano sounds easy and lurid in whatever water she is testing, as on Little Auk, Charivari and Teetotum’s introduction. Chris Greive’s languid trombone is accurate and poignant as on Little Auk and Spor. His horn is always marshalling with high skill punctuations. On Little Auk, Medboe showcases the lofty, well-demeanoured strings, all at the hands of a grounded Signy Jakobsdottir’s percussion. Guitar and percussion endorsements are impressive on Charivari.

Teetotum comes together in a dialogue, out of which kicks off a rising up upon the string background, providing intensification to this theme. “In Perpetuity” allows every section to burnish, both in the troupe’s work and being self-assured by Haftor Medboe’s proficient arranging abilities, and for solos, which take on the guitar. The Edinburgh String Quartet and Kenny MacDonald’s endowments are awesome from Little Auk to Maikro.

A dazzling venture into contemporary jazz!

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Grover Washington, Jr. – Prime Cuts: The Columbia Years 1987-1999 (1999) [Japanese Reissue 2001] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Grover Washington, Jr. – Prime Cuts: The Columbia Years 1987-1999 (1999) [Japanese Reissue 2001]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 63:35 minutes | Scans included | 2,61 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,33 GB
Genre: Jazz

Grover Washington, Jr.’s fatal 1999 heart attack cut a successful 30-year recording career tragically short. Washington’s legacy was his ability to combine jazz and pop by tracing their common roots in R&B and soul music. He found fans among the younger wave of jazz listeners, who were attracted to the sounds of what became known as “smooth jazz.”
Washington’s jazzier side is highlighted on this retrospective, in addition to his smooth jazz inclinations. Standout tracks include a big band version of “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” as well as a version of Ron Carter’s “Blues for DP,” where he proves he’s an effective and skilled jazz saxophonist; his soprano solo is wonderfully constructed. A thought-provoking and varied set of music, PRIME CUTS is a good introduction to Washington’s music, as well as an endearing farewell to the father of what could be termed “rhythm & jazz”.

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Grand Funk – We’re An American Band (1973) [Japanese SHM-SACD 2014] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Grand Funk – We’re An American Band (1973) [Japanese SHM-SACD 2014]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 40:00 minutes | Scans included | 1,62 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 829 MB
Genre: Rock

Having made several changes in their business and musical efforts in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad made even more extensive ones in 1973, beginning with their name, which was officially truncated to “Grand Funk.” And keyboardist Craig Frost, credited as a sideman on Phoenix, the previous album, was now a full-fledged bandmember, filling out the musical arrangements. The most notable change, however, came with the hiring of Todd Rundgren to produce the band’s eighth album. Rundgren, a pop/rock artist in his own right, was also known for his producing abilities, and he gave Grand Funk exactly what they were looking for: We’re an American Band sounded nothing like its muddy, plodding predecessors. Sonically, the record was sharp and detailed and the band’s playing was far tighter and more accomplished. Most important, someone, whether the band or Rundgren, decided that gruff-voiced drummer Don Brewer should be employed as a lead singer as often as guitarist Mark Farner. Brewer also contributed more as a songwriter, and the results were immediate. The album’s title song, an autobiographical account of life on the road written and sung by Brewer, was released in advance of the album and became a gold-selling number one hit, Grand Funk’s first really successful single. Despite the band’s previous popularity, for many, it must have been the first Grand Funk record they either heard or bought. Elsewhere on the album, Farner contributed his usual wailing vocals and guitar, singing of his heartfelt, if simpleminded, political concerns. But We’re an American Band really belonged to Brewer and Rundgren, and its success constituted a redefinition of Grand Funk that came just in time.

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Ginuwine – The Life (2001) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Ginuwine – The Life (2001) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 66:50 minutes | Scans included | 4,31 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,33 GB
Genre: R&B

The Life is the third studio album from American R&B singer Ginuwine, released on Epic Records in 2001. The album debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 152,000 copies sold in the U.S. and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.

On his third album, Ginuwine is even more of a practiced R&B loverman than he was on his first two releases. Big Dog Productions, Inc. and the team of Troy Oliver and Cory Rooney produce the bulk of the beats here, which, as usual, mostly range from slow to very slow tempos with such trendy touches as acoustic guitar passages. But all that just serves as a bed for Ginuwine’s elastic tenor and his message to the women in his audience. The singer sounds like he’s been reading women’s magazines and tried to construct a persona that’s as appealing as possible. “Baby,” he croons in “Why Did You Go,” “I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done and I want you to be my wife.” In “Differences,” he talks about how much he has improved since meeting the woman he’s addressing, concluding, “I’m so responsible.” Even when he’s criticizing a woman, as he does in the album’s first single, “There It Is,” it’s because she’s not contributing to the relationship, while he’s holding down a steady job and paying the bills. It’s only in the album’s eighth cut, “How Deep Is Your Love” (an original, not the Bee Gees song), that he begins to apply pressure for sex, ungallantly suggesting that if the woman doesn’t come across he’ll start cheating on her. “Show After the Show” is a come-on to a post-concert groupie, which seems to negate what’s gone before, and “Role Play” moves on to kinky sex, but in the album-closing “Just Because,” Ginuwine acknowledges the temptations of his occupation and pleads, “I’m trying to learn to be committed.” It’s hard to believe that anyone who’s swallowed his line before is going to become skeptical now, so The Life looks like another winner for him.

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Gezz – Jazz Pop-Uped (2004) [Reissue 2009] {2.0 & 5.1} SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2

Gezz? – Jazz Pop-Uped (2004) [Reissue 2009] {2.0 & 5.1}
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 51:53 minutes | Scans included | 3,23 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 53:19 mins | Scans | 1,03 GB
Genre: Jazz

Booklet note by GEZZ:
The real thing about making improvised music is that you never know exactly what you’re going to do. The music takes you to places in your mind you never knew existed. Melodies come up as they disappear, rhythmic phrases seem out of reach ’till you know you’ve passed them on the way to a new one. It’s a never ending journey…
When we started out we just enjoyed playing together. But as we went along we decided we had a special thing on our hands. During improvisations, themes would come up from songs from our shared musical past, sometimes we played things we knew but couldn’t name. Phrases and melodies from old and new pop songs that are embedded in our heads. This album is the result of our urge to make a statement in what improvisation means to us, therefore it is dedicated to all those great musicians who inspired (and inspire) us to do what we do best: improvise.

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Gerard Presencer – The Optimist (2001) {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Gerard Presencer – The Optimist
SACD ISO (Stereo): 2,00 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 926 MB | Full Artwork
Label/Cat#: Linn Records # AKD 166 | Country/Year: UK 2001 | 3% Recovery Info
Genre: Jazz | Style: Jazz, Electronica, Vocal Jazz, Dance

The first thing that hits you when you listen to this record is the extensive use of samples and drum rhythms one would expect in a dance record. This album is clearly a cross over between Jazz and Dance. Which is fine since it was done really well.
The music can be a bit too much in your face at times, and I have been in the situation before were I decided to put it on but regretted it as soon as the first track began. Other times I love this record and tend to turn up the volume so far that I sure my neighbours aren’t happy that I’m living next to them.

I’ve gotten both albums which were release by Gerard Presencer on SACD and I must admit I prefer this one. sa-cd.net

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Fritz Reiner – Vienna (2005) {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Fritz Reiner – Vienna
Works by Carl Maria von Weber; Johann Jr., Josef & Richard Strauss
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 3,20 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,40 GB | Full Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: RCA Red Seal “Living Stereo” # 82876-71615-2 | Country/Year: Europe 2005, 1957/1960
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic, Various, Orchestral, Waltz

This RCA Living Stereo release showcases the conducting talents of Fritz Reiner. It is a compilation of universal favourites linked to Vienna and ranging from Johann Strauss junior to Josef Strauss, from Richard Strauss to Weber. I doubt that the music of Old Vienna has ever sounded more entrancing than on this SACD from ‘stereo’s golden age’ performed as it is with unique style and panache.

Reiner is a contradictory figure, revered for his musicianship and level of technical achievement yet widely disliked for his personal temperament and behaviour. His live performances and substantial recorded legacy, however, bear witness to a great artist who, among other achievements, over his ten year tenure from 1953 shaped the Chicago Symphony into one of the world’s great orchestras.

He was born in 1888 in Budapest, Hungary. He studied piano with his mother and entered the famed Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest when he was 15. Reiner was invited to conduct the Budapest People’s Opera, where he stayed until 1914. That year, he was invited to head the Dresden Court Opera – later known as the Dresden State Opera – where he became devoted to the elder conductor Artur Nikisch. Reiner came to know Richard Strauss and eventually conducted the German premiere of his opera Die Frau ohne Schatten cultivating a reputation as one of the foremost Strauss interpreters. Reiner later recorded Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben, Don Quixote and Don Juan, among other Strauss works, for RCA Victor.

In the years following the Great War, Reiner became eager to leave Europe, correctly forecasting Europe’s economic problems and growing anti-Semitism. He was asked to take on the position of Music Director at the Cincinnati Symphony in 1921, and with that appointment left for the United States, becoming a citizen there in 1928. During his nine years in Cincinnati, he presented the American premieres of works by Ravel, Debussy and Respighi. Reiner introduced the music of his fellow countryman Béla Bartók to Cincinnati, leading the United States premiere of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with the composer as soloist. One of Reiner’s most famous recordings is of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a performance which won that ensemble’s first Grammy Award.

In 1931, Reiner resigned from his Cincinnati job to become a professor of conducting at Philadelphia’s highly prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, where his students included Lukas Foss and Leonard Bernstein. Seven years later heeiner became the Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, where he served for 10 years until 1948. During this time, the orchestra’s reputation was solidified into a competitive American ensemble and Reiner’s stature as an orchestra-builder grew. While engaged in Pittsburgh, Reiner gave guest appearances at Covent Garden and with the San Francisco Symphony, among others. After stepping down from Pittsburgh, Reiner joined the conductor roster at the New York Metropolitan Opera, staying until 1953. At the Metropolitan he was widely acclaimed for his performances of Richard Strauss. Scenes from Salome and Elektra with soprano Inge Borkh were recorded for RCA Victor.

1953 was a historic year in Reiner’s life. He assumed the title of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony in what was to become a legendary if troubled partnership. The Chicago players despised their tyrannical, short-tempered conductor, but it was under his baton that the orchestra rose from the ranks of a good regional band to become one of the world’s finest. Under his leadership, the CSO prospered and premiered many important works, including Copland’s Clarinet Concerto and Alan Hovhaness’s Mysterious Mountain.

The breadth of Reiner’s repertoire and his championing of new music remain two of his distinguishing characteristics, in addition to his legendary precision. His recordings with the CSO were essential models in establishing the sonic superiority of the stereo recording process; many of those albums remain benchmark recordings for their musical and technical excellence. Reiner resigned from the CSO after the 1962 season, and died in New York in 1963.

The Austrian capital and the waltz have long been synonymous. The first waltzes were played at Vienna’s Imperial court balls around 1660 and ever since then the city has been best known to most people as the world’s waltz capital, though it is justly proud of many other achievements. For three centuries the waltz was a dominant factor in the city’s musical, social and emotional life. It could be said that Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube waltz is Austria’s unofficial national anthem.

In the nineteenth century, Viennese dance music was dominated by the family of Johann Strauss senior (1804-1849) and his three sons Johann junior, Josef and Eduard. Johann senior, who is not represented on this release, composed around three hundrd works and is chiefly remembered for the lovely waltz Loreley-Rhein-Klänge (1843) and for the ubiquitous Radetzky-Marsch (1848).

Johann Strauss junior (1825-1899), who became known as ‘The Waltz King’, composed over 170 waltzes, the most popular being: Blue Danube (1867), Tales from the Vienna Woods (1868), Perpetual Motion (1869), Roses from the South (1880) and the Emperor Waltz (1888). He also wrote many polkas including the Thunder and Lightning Polka and the Trisch-Tratsch Polka. Johann was also eminent in the world of music theatre with enduring operettas: Die Fledermaus (The Bat) (1874), The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief (1880) and The Gypsy Baron (1885), all receiving their premieres in Vienna, remaining celebrated examples of the rich Viennese operetta tradition.

Johann Strauss junior has seven works recorded by Reiner on this release: Morning Papers, Emperor Waltz, On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Vienna Blood, Roses from the South (from The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief), Treasure Waltz (from The Gypsy Baron) and Thunder and Lightning.

Josef Strauss (1827-1870) became a genius against his will when his elder brother, Johann, fell dangerously ill and Josef had to take over the family orchestra. He wrote about three hundred dance compositions, among them the famous waltzes, Village Swallows from Austria (1864), Transactions (1865) and The Music of the Spheres (1868). His speciality was the polka mazurka Woman’s Heart (1864) and The Dragonfly (1866) being exquisite examples of the genre. Josef Strauss is represented on this release with the Village Swallows waltz.

Carlo Maria von Weber’s Invitation to the Dance is best known in an orchestral transcription by Hector Berlioz in 1841 of his Rondo brillante in D flat major for piano (1819). With this Rondo Weber became the first composer to write a waltz-sequence; an integrated composition comprising several waltz tunes.

The waltzes from Richard Strauss’s 1910 opera Der Rosenkavalier were arranged by Fritz Reiner himself. In Der Rosenkavalier Strauss confided to his librettist Hofmannsthal how he wished to combine the best qualities of Mozart and Johann Strauss.

On this release Reiner and his orchestra are in glorious form. The quality of these Strauss family waltzes can survive even the most inept amateur and hand-organ grinder. In the hands of Reiner, however, the waltzes sound marvellous and are a real joy. Reiner was conducting in Vienna as early as 1915 and one can clearly hear that the Viennese stamp of authenticity is attached to these performances. The spirit of Vienna is also perpetuated with the Chicago Symphony having several Vienna-trained members at the time of these recordings.

Reiner is able effortlessly to adapt to the contrasting moods and fast-changing tempos. He manages to deliver real excitement and an anticipation of what is to come next. He knows how to obtain the slight buoyancy on the second beat, an almost inaudible accent after an almost inaudible pause.

The sound quality of this SACD – played on my standard player – is excellent. The booklet notes contain interesting and informative essays but do not comprehensively cover all the works.

Michael Cookson musicweb-international

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