Handel and W. Croft – Music for the Peace of Utrecht – The Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven (2010) [channelclassics 24-192]

Handel and W. Croft – Music for the Peace of Utrecht – The Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven (2010)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 73:00 minutes | 2,22 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: channelclassics | Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
Recording: Philharmonie, Haarlem, The Netherlands, May 2009

Сomposer: George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), William Croft (1678-1727)
Artist: The Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven

The Netherlands Bach Society
Jos van Veldhoven (conductor)
Nicki Kennedy (soprano)
William Towers (alto)
Wolfram Lattke, Julian Podger (tenor)
Peter Harvey (bass)

Disc reviews Steven Ritter (audaud.com)
This disc is offered as a foretaste of the celebration of 300 years since the passing of the Treaty of Utrecht, an event that can hardly be underestimated as it brought an end to almost 200 years of war in Europe. It was a big event then and has not lost its significance today. The Treaty of Utrecht Foundation is in part responsible for the sponsorship of this recording.

Handel was just starting to acclimate himself to the ways of England when the opportunity to write his Te Deum presented itself. The accompanying Jubilate was almost an afterthought to the other composition. It only took about two seasons for the already-successful composer to establish himself as the one to beat in terms of musical talent, and the Queen and English court caught on to his genius in rather short order. Otherwise it is impossible to understand how a foreign composer so easily assumed the first place for selection in such an important commission as this, works to be performed at St. Paul’s to celebrate the most important European event in 500 years. In fact, Handel’s opus was destined to supplant Purcell’s Te Deum that was annually performed on St. Cecelia’s Day on November 22 of each year, no mean feat. It is a spectacular piece with all of the typically Handelian effects that we all know and love, though it will probably not rank among favorite Handeliana when compared to what he could accomplish in future years; likewise the Jubilate, another invigorating and immediately popular work that served as an infallible calling card to London society.

William Croft (1678-1727) was court organist and composer along with master of the Children in the Chapel Royal and organist of St. Peter’s Westminster. His motivations for the composition of this blockbuster Ode were a little different from Handel’s, a musical dissertation devised to earn him a doctorate from Oxford University, which it did. This work was performed three months after the Utrecht treaty, and is full of what we would now consider Handelian devices as well. This is not surprising as the two composers were colleagues and friends at the Chapel Royal, and it is hard to ascertain who influenced who. Croft’s work is a marvel, wonderful choral work with a striking overture, and one that did good service to the court and the celebrations.

The Netherlands Bach Society is a crackerjack ensemble of tremendous quality and digs into these pieces with relish. Channel’s surround sound is simply brilliant, and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by this recording.

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Genevieve Soly – Handel in Darmstadt (2010) [Analekta 24-88.2]

Genevieve Soly – Handel in Darmstadt (2010)
Classical | Flac. Tracks, 24/88.2 kHz | Covers | 1.08 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: Analekta | Time: 54:04
Genre: Classical

This album features 7 works for harpsichord, 6 of which are taken from the “Darmstadt Harpsichord Book” (DHB) housed in the university and municipal library (“Universitats- und Landesbibliothek”) of the same city, with 5 of those works by Handel, and the 6th by Christoph Graupner. The harpsichordist on this recording, Genevieve Soly, is a scholar on the DHB and on the music of Graupner. She also contributed the liner notes on this recording, and wears her learning lightly there. She also plays well in all the works.

Soly mentions in her notes that the CD contains 20 of the 29 Handel works in the DHB. Given that I wrote that there are 7 compositions on this album, the “20″ could be partly explained away by the fact that the CD has 22 tracks, and 1 is of the Graupner work. However, this still leaves 21 tracks, so I’m not sure how to account for the number “20″. In addition, the running time is just around 52 minutes, so one wonders how long the remaining “9 works” take, if they were too long to fit everything on 1 CD..


Genevieve Soly

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Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay (1970/2013) [e-Onkyo 24-192]

Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay (1970/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 39:20 minutes | 1,56 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: CTI/e-Onkyo.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

This may be Freddie Hubbard’s finest moment as a leader, in that it embodies and utilizes all of his strengths as a composer, soloist, and frontman. On Red Clay, Hubbard combines hard bop’s glorious blues-out past with the soulful innovations of mainstream jazz in the 1960s, and reads them through the chunky groove innovations of ’70s jazz fusion. This session places the trumpeter in the company of giants such as tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Lenny White. Hubbard’s five compositions all come from deep inside blues territory; these shaded notions are grafted onto funky hard bop melodies worthy of Horace Silver’s finest tunes, and are layered inside the smoothed-over cadences of shimmering, steaming soul. The 12-minute-plus title track features a 4/4 modal opening and a spare electric piano solo woven through the twin horns of Hubbard and Henderson. It is a fine example of snaky groove music. Henderson even takes his solo outside a bit without ever moving out of the rhythmatist’s pocket. “Delphia” begins as a ballad with slow, clipped trumpet lines against a major-key background, and opens onto a midtempo groover, then winds back into the dark, steamy heart of bluesy melodicism. The hands-down favorite here, though, is “The Intrepid Fox,” with its Miles-like opening of knotty changes and shifting modes, that are all rooted in bop’s muscular architecture. It’s White and Hancock who shift the track from underneath with large sevenths and triple-timed drums that land deeply inside the clamoring, ever-present riff. Where Hubbard and Henderson are playing against, as well as with one another, the rhythm section, lifted buoyantly by Carter’s bridge-building bassline, carries the melody over until Hancock plays an uncharacteristically angular solo before splitting the groove in two and doubling back with a series of striking arpeggios. This is a classic, hands down.

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Fantasticus: Sonnerie & other portraits (2013) [Qobuz 24-96]

Fantasticus: Sonnerie & other portraits (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.23 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz

Following on from the critical success of their debut recording, Fantasticus release their second album for Resonus Classics with an selection of French Baroque chamber works. Here, the trio – Rie Kimura (baroque violin), Robert Smith (viola da gamba) and Guillermo Brachetta (harpsichord) – perform an exquisite programme of French Baroque chamber works focussing on a theme of ‘musical portraits’. The recording includes popular and lesser-known works by composers such as Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marin Marais, François Francoeur, Jean-Marie Leclair, Jacques Duphly and Louis-Antoine Dornel.


After exploring the 17th century stylus fantasticus the ensemble Fantasitcus proves its versatility by triumphantly embracing the

French Baroque. This programme features repertoire rich in musical portraits: Marais salutes Lully in his Tombeau pour Monsr de Lully, Rameau salutes Marais in his Cinquième concert, and there’s a stampede to salute Antoine and Jean-Baptiste Forqueray (father and son). Among those bending the knee to ‘La Forcroy’, Dornel’s Sonata IV (1711) supplies an imposing Chaconne to round out the programme with infectious Gallic flair.

But it’s not all composer portraits. Fantasticus opens with a jaunty account of Marais’s lively depiction of the bells of Ste Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris, and there’s a wonderfully tender coquetry to Rameau’s La cupis – a portrait, perhaps, of one of the dancers who had graced the premiere of his Hippolyte et Aricie.
There are opportunities for each member of the ensemble to shine, including gambist Robert Smit’s plaintive expressive poise in Marais’s Le tombeau de Lully, harpsichordist Guillermo Brachetta’s supple gravitas in Duphly’s Le Forqueray, and Rie Kimura’s elegantly turned bravura in the Francoeur Violin Sonata. With their first two releases, Fantasticus have established themselves as a white-hot addition to the early music scene. Fantasticus by name; fantastic by nature!

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Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook (1956/2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook (1956/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 122:50 minutes | 2,57 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

Long considered a jewel in Verve Records’ very impressive crown, Fitzgerald’s songbook collections of various composers–a series that was started by the success of this set–are all wonderful, but her natural wit and intelligence was at its most perfect with Cole Porter’s erudite, urbane songs. While not as scat-oriented as her small group outings, these Porter sets offer her most realized pop performances. Also, the gold remastering does a fine job of bringing out the nuances in the arrangements, making this a treasure for the serious collector and the casual listener alike. A true American music gem.

Ella Fitzgerald had the ability to personalize some of the most recognizable material from the foremost songwriters in American popular music history. In this instance, the combination of Cole Porter’s words and Fitzgerald’s interpretation of them created one of the most sought after sessions in vocal history — embraced by jazz and pop fans alike, transcending boundaries often associated with those genres. Originally released in 1956 on the Verve label, such standards as “Night and Day,” “I Love Paris,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “You’re the Top,” and “Love for Sale” secured one of Ella Fitzgerald’s crowning moments. The success of these early Porter (and previous Gershwin) sessions brought about numerous interpretations of other songbooks throughout the next several years including those of Rodgers and Hart, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, and Irving Berlin.

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Eleanor McEvoy – If You Leave (2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Eleanor McEvoy – If You Leave… (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 43:04 minutes | 964 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Pop

If You Leave… features eight new songs by Eleanor McEvoy as well as four covers. Stylistically, the album is a throwback to 60s blues and features Jimmy Smyth on guitar, James Delaney on keyboard, Paul Moor and Eoghan O’Neill on bass, and Des Lacey on drums.

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Dr. John – The ATCO Studio Albums Collection (2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Dr. John – The ATCO Studio Albums Collection (1968-1974) [2014]
7 Albums | FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 260:50 minutes | 10,6 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front covers
Genre: Blues, R&B, Soul

Dr. John is a six-time Grammy Award-winning musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Known throughout the world as the embodiment of New Orleans’ musical legacy, Dr. John is a true icon in American culture… New Orleans pianist and singer whose blend of snaky rhythms, Crescent City funk, and voodoo flair made him one of the city’s prime musical ambassadors. Enjoy now seven of his best albums remastered in High Definition!

Enjoy these seven studio albums by Dr. John, recorded for ATCO Records and available now in hi-res!

GRIS-gris (1968)
Babylon (1969)
Remedies (1970)
The Sun Moon & Herbs (1971)
Dr. John’s Gumbo (1972)
In the Right Place (1973)
Desitively Bonnaroo (1974)

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Dr.John – The Brightest Smile In Town (1983) [DAD Reissue 1998] {FLAC 24-96}

Dr. John – The Brightest Smile In Town (1983) [DAD Reissue 1998]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 49:57 minutes | 1035 MB
DAD to Hi-Res FLAC – Source: Classic Records’ DAD 1017 | Artwork
Genre: Blues, R&B, Soul

Doctor John’s second solo piano album finds him combining country, blues, and New Orleans standards with originals, half of them instrumentals, and half of them containing vocals that sound like they were recorded off the piano microphone. This is not a high-tech recording, by any means, but in its unadorned way it does capture the flavor of Doctor John as directly as any record he’s made.

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Dr. John – Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit Of Satch (2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Dr. John – Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit Of Satch (2014)

FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 58:31 minutes | 1,32 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Booklet
Genre: Blues, R&B, Jazz, New Orleans R&B, Piano Blues | Label: © Proper Records | Concord Music Group
Recorded: December 10 – 13, 2013 and January 2 & 3, 2014 at Esplanade Studios, New Orleans, LA.

Dr. John’s Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch is a collection of songs by and associated with fellow New Orleanian Louis Armstrong, one of the handful cats who put jazz on the map in the early years of the 20th century. Finely arranged by trombonist and co-producer Sarah Morrow, all of these 13 tracks feature guest stars and a great band. Dr. John goes right to the heart of Armstrong’s music, opening with “What a Wonderful World,” with a vocal intro by the Blind Boys of Alabama and trumpeter Nicholas Payton as a soloist. It’s an illustration of just how much he “enjoys screwing with a good song.” Though the song is oft-covered, this is likely the very first time it’s been done as pure NOLA funk, with drummer Herlin Riley popping all over backbeat. “Mack the Knife,” with Mike Ladd and Terence Blanchard, may start with a monster syncopated jazz-funk vamp, but the seeming distance in the exchange between the two vocalists feels unbridgeable. “Tight Like This” done with a slow, Afro-Cuban groove, features with Telmary and Arturo Sandoval. Unfortunately, Dr. John is all but absen and the tune suffers for it. “I’ve Got the World on a String” is a swinging, bluesy duet with Bonnie Raitt, with Pancho Sanchez dropping a sweet undercurrent of conga. “Gut Bucket Blues,” a punchy, swaggering funk number, features a killer horn break from Payton. “Dippermouth Blues” is a driving, fat, front-line horn number, starring James “12″ Andrews, while “Sweet Hunk O’ Trash” is a wonderful duet with Shemekia Copeland that recalls thegood-natured back and forth that Armstrong and Billie Holiday displayed on their 1949 version. His distorted RMI keyboard solo takes it to — and over — the margin. Anthony Hamilton’s vocal on “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” is smooth as silk atop a soulful, contemporary jazz chart. It’s followed by two selections with the McCrary Sisters. The first “That’s My Home,” is an easy R&B stroll with Wendell Brunious on flügelhorn. “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” is a stirring trad gospel arrrangement with Ledisi as Dr. John’s duet partner. “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” is gorgeous NOLA souled-out R&B with Blanchard and the Blind Boys of Alabama. The closer, “When You’re Smiling” is a greasy second-line read with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band that sends this set out romping. Though a couple of cuts fall short of the mark, and the set may have a few too many guests, Ske-Dat-De-Dat is a solid tribute to Armstrong. It does take chances and almost always pulls them off thanks to Dr. John’s signature blend of musical imagination, wit, and savvy cool. –Thom Jurek

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Jiri Belohlávek, Czech Philharmonic – Dvorak: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Jiri Belohlávek, Czech Philharmonic – Dvorak: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 8.62 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: HDtracks

A new Dvorák symphony and concerto cycle from the multi-Gramophone-Award-winning conductor and the great Prague-based orchestra. It marks a triumphant return to the orchestra where he trained, the world leading and multi-Gramophone Award-winning maestro Jirí Bìlohlávek records Decca’s first Dvorák cycle since the 1960s. This complete symphonies and concertos set is a pinnacle of brilliant music-making, and the first major cycle to be recorded in high-definition 24bit 96kHz and Mastered for iTunes sound.

Dvorák himself conducted the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra’s first concert in 1896, and the shared Bohemian heritage of composer, conductor and orchestra lends a very special authenticity to these recordings.

Dvorák’s three concertos (violin, cello and piano) feature alongside his nine great Symphonies, with Decca’s leading cellist Alisa Weilerstein, Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) and Garrick Ohlsson (piano). The Czech PO and Belohlávek will be undertaking major European tours in 2014, including a full Dvorák symphonic cycle in Prague in September. Rhombus Films have also made a fascinating documentary focusing on Belohlávek’s return to Prague as the Czech Philharmonic’s chief conductor.

Composer: Antonín Dvorák
Performer: Alisa Weilerstein, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Garrick Ohlsson
Conductor: Jiri Belohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

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