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September 2014
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Best Audiohpile Music Of 2014 Blue Note Award
Best Of 2014 Blue Note Music Awards
As Chosen By Music Editor Wayne Donnelly And Our Music Review Staff

 

Bela Bartok
Violin Concerto no.1, op. posth.; Violin Concerto no. 2, Sz 112
Isabelle Faust (violin), Daniel Harding conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed Here

One of the great joys of reviewing is discovering a new version of a much loved and familiar work that makes you hear it as if the first time. Isabel Faust and Daniel Harding's daring and imaginative performance makes Bartok's often played Violin Concerto No. 2 sound newly minted. They also make a heartfelt case for the rarely heard First Concerto, an unashamedly Romantic work by the young composer. — Max Westler

 

 

Benjamin Britten: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 15
Peter llyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, op. 36
Stanislaw Moniuszko: Mazur
Wanda Wilkomirska (violin)
Witold Rowicki conducting the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed Here

This live performance from Queen Elizabeth Hall is the most exciting performance of the Tchaikovsky Fourth Symphony I've ever heard. Witold Rowicki did not make many commercial recordings, but his fire-breathing account of the symphony will have you on the edge of your seat. If Toscanini had made a recording of this symphony (to my knowledge, he never did), this is what it would have sounded like. A deeply expressive reading of Britten's elusive Violin Concerto by the great Wanda Wilkomirski makes for a very generous pairing. The clear, spacious sound captures the event with a bracing realism. — Max Westler

 

 

Constantin Silvestri
The Icon Box: "His Complete EMI Recordings"
Constantin Silvestri conducting the Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire, the Orchestra National de la Radiodiffussion Francaise, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Reviewed Here

This thirteen-disc set contains just about every recording the great but nearly forgotten conductor Constantin Silvestri made in the years between his debut in Paris in 1957 and his tragic death in 1968. Silvestri was a very individual interpreter whose recordings combined imagination, brilliant orchestral execution, and high voltage. The repertory might be familiar, but the results are anything but routine. The performances are mostly thrilling, sometimes idiosyncratic, but never dull. — Max Westler

 

 

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
Erin Wall (s), Kendall Gladden (ms), William Burden (t), Nathan Berg (b), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Ragnar Bohlin (director), Micheal Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphonyo
Reviewed Here

Micheal Tilson Thomas is best known for his recordings of Mahler and modern repertory. But lest we forget that he is also a profound interpreter of the standard repertory, SF Media has given us this remarkable performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Intense, probing, and brilliantly played, it ranks with the very greatest recorded Ninths, and the sound is demonstration-quality. — Max Westler

 

 

Dvorak: Symphony No. 8
Janacek: Symphonic Suite from Jenufa (arr. Honick / Ille)
Manfred Honeck, conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony
Reviewed Here

Manfred Honeck and his superb Pittsburgh Symphony offer a fresh, vibrant reading of Dvorak's Eighth Symphony, emphasizing its "Czech" elements by stressing its dance rhythms and dramatic extremes, while not hesitating to use rubato and portamento at key moments. A bonus is a suite Honeck himself devised from Leos Janacek's opera Jenufa, more modern but equally steeped in Czech folk music. Reference Recordings' vivid sound captures all the subtleties of Honeck's readings while going to a bit of an extreme itself in dynamic range from ppp to fff. — Joe Milicia

 

 

Benjamin Britten Cello Symphony; Cello Sonata
Zuill Bailey, cello, with the North Carolina Symphony
Conducted by Grant Llewellyn (in the Symphony); Natasha Paremski, piano (in the Sonata)
Reviewed Here

Although fans of Benjamin Britten as composer, conductor and pianist—and of the legendary cellist Mstislav Rostopovich—would not want to be without those artists' premiere recordings of the Cello Sonata and Cello Symphony, they should also welcome Telarc's thrilling new recording of these works with cellist Zuill Bailey, partnered ("accompanied" would be the wrong word) by pianist Natasha Paremski in the former and Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony in the latter. Bailey brings his own insights and virtuosity to the music, Paremski is a brilliant soloist in her own right, and the North Carolina Symphony led by Llewellyn is strikingly accomplished, especially the winds. — Joe Milicia

 

 

Busoni: Late Piano Music
Busoni: Seven Elegies; Nuit de Noël; Fantasia after J.S. Bach; Canonic Variations and Fugue; Giga, bolero e variazione; Six Sonatinas; Indianisches Erntelied; Indianisches Tagebuch, Book I; Three Album Leaves; Toccata: Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona; Prologo; seven excerpts from Klavierübung; Nine Variations on a Chopin Prelude; Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing; Perpetuum mobile; Préude et étude en arpèges.
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Reviewed Here

Marc-André Hamelin offers a treasure trove of solo piano music by Ferruccio Busoni in this 3-CD set. Busoni's music is exhilarating to hear: muscular, quirky, intellectual but energetic, often combining elements of classicism, late romanticism and modernism. Hamelin's choices date from Busoni's later years, 1907 to 1924, and include suites, etudes and fantasias. Quite a few of the pieces elaborate upon well-known themes from Bach, Mozart and Chopin, among others, or play with folk tunes, including "Greensleeves." Hyperion's engineers brilliantly capture the full range of piano sound from delicate scales to thunderous climaxes.

 

 

Leon Fleisher
The Complete Album Collection
Reviewed Here

This bargain-priced 23-CD set from Sony contains most of the commercially recorded performances of Leon Fleisher, one of the 20th Century's greatest piano artists. Many of these discs are classics of the LP era—notably the Beethoven and Brahms concertos with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra—but there are also surprises for those who don't know Fleisher's complete legacy, such as a disc of modern American solo works, a Shepherd on the Rock with Benita Valente and Harold Wright, and a Hindemith The Four Temperaments. During his early prime Fleisher suffered a debilitation of his right hand, hence a long gap in his recording catalog, but returned with some discs of solo, chamber, and orchestral music featuring piano left-hand; and the final disc in the set, with three Mozart concertos, displays his return to the two-hands repertory. Many of the discs, including those from the mono era, have been skillfully remastered, and this is an original-covers set, with all the pleasures (the artwork and back-cover notes) and drawbacks (some short playing times, some repetition of works) that the format involves. — Joe Milicia

 

 

Wagner
Die Walküre: Sword Monologue
Siegfried Rienzi: Rienzi's Prayer
Tannhäuser: Rome Narration
Die Meistersinger: "Am stillen Herd"
Lohengrin: Grail Narration
Wesendonck-Lieder
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor; Donald Runnicles, conducting the Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra
Reviewed Here

The tonal beauty of Jonas Kaufmann's voice, with its baritonal shadings, has been justly celebrated, along with his ability to "color" his voice to fit the dramatic moment. These qualities are splendidly in evidence in his Wagner CD, in outstanding partnership with Donald Runnicles and the Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra. The disc generously gives us scenes from six operas, with Kaufmann inhabiting the roles of Siegmund, Siegfried, Rienzi, Tannhäuser, Walter von Stolzing, and Lohengrin, and concludes with a rare tenor performance of the Wesendonck Lieder, hauntingly sung by Kaufmann, ravishingly accompanied by Runnicles and his Berlin orchestra. — Joe Milicia

 

 

Fritz Reiner – The Complete RCA Album Collection 
See complete title/track listing at the bottom of the review
Reviewed Here

It is a dream set for Fritz Reiner fans: all the music that the maestro recorded for RCA with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, reissued on CD in Sony's original-covers series, at a bargain price (at least when first issued). That includes superlative performances of Richard Strauss (including two Don Juans and Zarathustras as well as excerpts from Elektra with Inge Borkh, the "Domestic Symphony" and much more), Beethoven (including a great Ninth Symphony), Bartok, Prokofiev, and much more: the best Hovhaness Mysterious Mountain on disc, some surprisingly fine Haydn, intensely dramatic renditions of warhorses like the Mephisto Waltz, the 1812 Overture and Scheherazade, the delightful 12-tone rarity Concerto for Jazz Band and Symphony Orchestra by Rolf Liebermann (with Blues and Mambo sections!) and a deeply felt Mahler Das Lied von der Erdewith Richard Lewis, Maureen Forrester, and the CSO at its stunning best. Remasterings are unpredictable: recordings made the same year (anywhere from 1954 to 1963) may sound so-so or nearly state-of-the-art even by today's standards.— Joe Milicia

 

 

 

Metal Masters
Black Sabbath 13
Format: Vinyl (Two 180 gram LP at 33.33 rpm) 

Voïvod Target Earth
Format: Limited Edition purple vinyl (Two 180 gram LP at 33.33 rpm)
Reviewed Here

Produced by Rick Rubin, Sabbath's original lineup minus drummer Bill Ward - with Brad Wilk filling in - is a truly awesome album. One of the key aspects behind this reunion release and tour was to get the ambiance just right.  Rubin gave instructions to the band to reconnect with their debut album to pick up on the bluesy doomy vibe permeating throughout it.

On this release, he turned to his trusted small circle for technical expertise; engineers Greg Fidelman, Mike Exeter and Dana Nielsen for recording; Andrew Scheps for mixing as well as Steven Marcussen and Stewart Whitmore for mastering. Chris Bellman's fine lacquer cutting insures a distortion-free, wideband balanced, non-aggressive sound. Right from the start up to the very end, 13 is a solid winner and can be considered one of their best albums in a long career, equaled or surpassed only by the band's first three offerings. It is one of the best sounding metal albums ever produced. The 'old school' Sabbath fan can rest assured; Rubin has succeeded to bring about the rare and sought-after alchemy between band and producer, delivering it as a gift to die-hard metal fans worldwide. — Claude Lemaire

 

 

Diamond Version
Diamond Version
EP1 Mute 12DVMUTE1(2012, Sept.)
EP2 Mute 12DVMUTE2 (2012, Nov.)
EP3 Mute 12DVMUTE3 (2013, Jan.)
EP4 Mute 12DVMUTE4 (2013, May) 
EP5 Mute 12DVMUTE1 (2013, July) 
Format: Vinyl (Five 180 gram EPs at 45 rpm)
Reviewed Here

Music and sound creators Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai aka Byetone and Alva Noto present the listener with a feast for the ears. From the sub bass through the hyper high frequencies, any one of Diamond Version's five EPs does not disappoint. Their style combines techno, glitch, industrial and noise; mastered and cut to lacquer with utmost care by engineer Andreas [LUPO] Lubich. If you are new to the genre and crave for some Killer DEMO material to impress your audiophile friends, this is the perfect opportunity to discover Diamond Version. — Claude Lemaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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