Pintchik: True North
(2016/Pintch Hard CD)/Naxos
SA-CD/SACD/Super Audio CDs: Aaron Copland: Billy The Kid - Rodeo;
Colorado Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Litton
Pettersson: Symph. No 12/Lyndberg
(2015 2-disc set, all BIS Records)/Prokofiev:
Symph Nos 4, 6 & 7/Piano Concertos Nos 4 & 5/Gergiev
The Seasons/Grand Sonata - Kempf
(2015, BIS Records)/Secundaria
(2013/First Run DVD)
C Sound: B/B B- C+/B+ B B-/B B- C+/B B- C+/B B- C+/C+ Extras:
C- Main Programs: B/B-/B-/B-/B-/B-/C+
our latest round of music releases, including an increasingly rare
listen to some quality audio-only releases.
latest album by a Jazz composer/pianist who has become a favorite of
mine has arrived. Leslie
Pintchik: True North
(2016) this time out offers ten tracks, including Pintchik originals
Get Lucky, Tumbleweed, Just Sayin', Crooked As A Dog's Hind Leg,
and the title song. This continues an almost instrumental stream of
thought for her and the new works are always fresh and welcome to
hear, like a gift package you get to open up every year or so. We
also get a clever cover of John Lennon's overplayed Imagine,
the standard Falling
In Love Again,
the theme from the 1963 Stanley Donen/Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant
(by Henry Mancini) and a live recording of For
All We Know,
the J. Fred Coots/Sam M. Lewis standard made a big pop hit by The
Carpenters and really delivered in a few truly underrated versions by
Dame Shirley Bassey.
course, there are no vocals here and they don't need them, because
the playing is so naturalistic, skillful, fun and joyful. I hear
more music than I get to write about, but Pintchik's recordings are
some of the smoothest out there and I highly recommend this as
another gem in her remarkable catalog.
that we have looked at and listened to our first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
releases with more to come, it struck me as ironic that there was now
a video format that really matched the best audio out there 15 years
later. Before you had lossless DTS and Dolby sound for films, TV and
concerts, you had the highly advanced audio format Super Audio CD
(aka SA-CD or SACD) and despite not catching on like its video
counterparts, it has found enough of an audience to continue
production, even if a few key titles have been discontinued and many
are limited editions as we see often on Blu-ray. Miss Pintchik has
issued work in the format (among others) that were great and now, we
have five new releases by the Classical Music distributor Naxos to
the CDs we covered from them about a month ago, all the recordings
are brand new, though definitely, amazing, even stunning 5.1 &
5.0 SA-CDs have come from albums going back to the 1960s (The Who's
is still stunning, see our review elsewhere on this site). This
time, we have five releases that are very good, but all come up just
a bit short of excellent for their own reasons despite the many good
thanks that work in them.
Copland: Billy The Kid - Rodeo
by The Colorado Symphony Orchestra with Andrew Litton conducting
(2015) is a pretty decent, traditional rendering of the classic
instrumentals we still hear played often today. Of course, when I
listened to this one, Keith Emerson of Emerson, lake & Palmer had
passed away and his trio had done a great Progressive rock version of
that became one of their signature pieces live. This is not as
Rock-oriented and one would not expect that, but even for the version
attempted, I wished it had a little more pep. Still, nice to hear it
in 5.0 and it is worth a listen.
(2015) includes four tracks that conclude with the title instrumental
composition, but it starts with the Beast
then moves on to two pieces: O
with vocals by soprano Hannah Holgersson and the all-instrumental
orchestral Cold Heat. Miss Holgersson joins fellow soprano Ida Falk
Winland on the final title track as well conducted by no less than
Esa-Pekka Salonen. Sakari Oramo conducted the first two tracks and
David Zinman the third. This is the work I was least familiar with
and it is a nice disc, the best of the SA-CD releases overall and the
one I would start with if you were interested in tackling the
releases in this group.
Pettersson: Symph. No 12
(2015) conducted by Christian Lindberg with the Norrkoping Symphony
Orchestra has the entire work the only piece here at 66:46 and plays
as a solid representation of the work of the late composer. It is
good, but a little long for me and a few parts just don't do it for
me. Otherwise, this is a fine work worth your time.
Symph Nos 4, 6 & 7 + Piano Concertos Nos 4
(Alexei Volodin on piano) &
(Sergei Babayan on piano, all 2015) is here with Valery Gergiev
conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra. He has previously impressed us
with his Les Troyens Blu-ray we covered at this link...
not quite as good, this is still pretty good at capturing the
legendary composers works here, but it just misses playing as
definitive for me. More surprising is that the first disc is just
over 81 minutes, rare for any part of the CD format, leaving SA-CD 2
at 72:22, so you sure get your money's worth making this the longest
offering on the list.
we've never covered these key works before, but we did catch Piano
Concerto No. 3 and you can read more about it at this link...
The Seasons + Grand Sonata
(2015) pairs one of the composers most famous works with one that
might not be as much, but pianist Freddy Kempt does a fine job here,
though taking on one of the most famous instrumentals of all time was
not going to be easy. The result is that he is good here, but it is
not always definitive and is arguably not supposed to be. Still, he
is very talented and I hope we come across his work again soon.
the only other time we covers The
was on SA-CD a while ago sat this link...
Jane Doherty's Secundaria
(2013) is an interesting documentary that starts as a simple one
about ballet in Cuba a few years ago. It looks at the lives of the
young people working hard to be in the artform as we have seen in
many (and a few memorable, recent) releases, but this takes an
interesting turn (Spoiler
to some extent!!!) when one of the dancers defects to the United
States! Of course, you immediately wonder what happened to her and
this is already 3+ years old. Still, I wanted more exposition and
interviews before that twist and we did not get them, so outside of
that unplanned shocker, this is not as good as many such
documentaries on ballet. However, now it is a curio and is worth a
look for more than just ballet fans or those interested in Cuba.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the documentary was shot on
basic digital video which looks like standard HD at best, but it has
its share of location flaws and is softer overall than I would have
liked. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Secundaria
has location audio issues, come in the most compressed format and
thus, is going to be the sonically poorest release here.
PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo on North
is more proof that Pintchik and company understand the needs of
seriously good recording. In the recoding, mixing and mastering, her
every recording is solid and now more than ever, far above the
auto-tune-no-talent pop hits that have never been so disposable. Her
support of higher fidelity formats put her ahead of her time and I
bet this would shine even more that way, but the CD is among that
rare list of releases in the older format that sounds so good,
too-rare recordings like this have keep the format alive more than it
might be otherwise. Nice!
all five SA-CD releases, we get three choices for playback, the
maximum the format can offer: DSD (lossless Direct Stream Digital)
5.0 mixes (oddly, none are 5.1), DSD 2.0 Stereo and PCM 2.0 16/44.1
Stereo. Needless to say all the 5.1 mixes are superior, but Sirens
is the superior multi-channel mix with it depth, detail and
articulation that puts it just above its still-viable counterparts.
Some were originally recorded in PCM sound, so the DSD is showing
their flaws and limits. All have some demo moments, but Sirens
is just that one step above the format was famous for early, even
over the many releases in its now-dead DVD-Audio (with a capital 'A';
both were meant to replace CDs, but the music labels (to their
infinite regret) did not back a single format) with a soundstage that
has a truly live feel you want to listen to again and again.
on all six music-only releases include informative booklets on each
release, while Secundaria
includes text bios and a Photo Gallery, but with Cuba opening up
again, an updated featurette would be a great idea (obviously).