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Robert Schumann – Violin Concerto, Piano Trio No.3 – Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Alexander Melnikov, Pablo Heras Casado, Freiburger Barockorchester (2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Robert Schumann – Violin Concerto, Piano Trio No.3 – Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Alexander Melnikov, Pablo Heras Casado, Freiburger Barockorchester (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 01:01:36 minutes | 1.04 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Harmonia Mundi
Recorded: May and September 2014 at Teldex Studio Berlin in Berlin, Germany.

In the autumn of 1851 Schumann composed, in rapid succession, the two violin sonatas and, in the space of just seven days from 2 to 9 October, the Piano Trio no.3, Op.110. As always during his work, Schumann was oblivious to everything around him, neglected social obligations, and isolated himself – even from Clara. ‘Robert is working very assiduously on a trio for piano, violin, and cello,’ she confided to her diary, ‘but he won’t let me hear anything of it until he has quite finished it – all I know is that it’s in G minor.’

This trio, like all his other chamber works with piano, was tailor-made for Clara to play and right from the first rehearsal session in the domestic circle she went into a veritable frenzy of delight: ‘It is original, absolutely full of passion, especially the scherzo, which sweeps one away to the wildest depths’, Just a little bit of that same enthusiasm would probably have spared the Violin Concerto a great deal of opprobrium: Clara witheld the score, as did the dedicatee, Joachim. It was finally premiered in Berlin on 26 November 1937, more than 80 years after it was composed, with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Karl Böhm and the violinist Georg Kulenkampff. Yehudi Menuhin had the privilege of making the first commercial recording, produced in the following year, 1938, with the New York Philharmonic under its British principal conductor John Barbirolli.
This first volume in a trilogy comprising the complete concertos and piano trios of Schumann brings together two late and unjustly neglected works. The instigators of the project, Isabelle Faust, Alexandre Melnikov and Jean-Guihen Queyras, champion their cause with a force of conviction and a choice of instruments that restore the delicate transparency and subtlety of their textures. The next release will be of the Piano Concerto and Piano Trio No. 2.

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Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973/2014) [DVD-A to FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 00:36:49 minutes | 750 MB | Genre: Rock
Source: DVD Audio | © A&M Records
Recorded: February – October 1972 at Morgan and Trident Studios, London, England.

Not only did this album help pave the way for progressive rock, but it also introduced the unbridled energy and overall effectiveness of the synthesizer as a bona fide instrument. Six Wives gave Wakeman his chance to break away from the other instrumental complexities that made up Yes and allowed him to prove what a driving force the keyboard could truly be, especially in full album form. More than just synthesized wandering, Wakeman astoundingly conjures up a separate musical persona by way of an instrumental ode to each of Henry VIII’s wives through his dazzling use of the Mellotron, Moog, and Hammond C-3 organ. For example, Wakeman’s fiery runs and fortissimo thwarting of the synthesizer throughout “Anne Boleyn” is a tribute to her feisty temper and valiant courage that she maintained while standing up to her husband. With “Jane Seymour,” on the other hand, Wakeman’s playing is somewhat subdued and gentle, which coincides with her legendary meekness and frailty, as well as her willingness to cater to Henry VIII. Wakeman’s masterful use of his synthesizers is instrumentally stunning, as is his talent of magically shaping the notes to represent behavioral idiosyncrasies of his characters. Yes bassist Chris Squire lends a hand on “Catherine of Aragon,” while guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Bill Bruford appear on a few tracks as well, as does former Strawbs member Dave Cousins, playing the electric banjo. The Six Wives of Henry VIII unleashes the unyielding power of the keyboard as a dominant instrument, but also displays Wakeman at the beginning of an extremely resplendent career as a solo musician. –Mike DeGagne

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Rick Wakeman – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975/2014) [DVD-A to FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Rick Wakeman – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 00:44:42 minutes | 946 MB | Genre: Rock
Source: DVD Audio | © A&M Records
Recorded: 16 October 1974 – 10 January 1975 at Morgan Studios, London, England.

Rick Wakeman’s third solo album is among his best, as he employs his vast array of keyboards to their full extent, musically describing the characters pertaining to the days of King Arthur’s reign. With orchestra and choir included, although a little less prevalent than on Journey, he musically addresses the importance and distinguishing characteristics of each figure through the use of multiple synthesizers and accompanying instruments. “Lady of the Lake” is given a mystical, enchanted feel, perpetrated by a more subtle use of piano and synthesizer, while the battle of “Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight” is made up of a barrage of feuding keyboard runs and staccato riffs, musically recounting the intensity of the duel. But it’s on “Merlin the Magician” where Wakeman truly shines, as the whimsy and peculiarity of this fabled figure is wonderfully conjured up through the frenzy of the synthesizer. As one of Wakeman’s most famous pieces, it is here that his astounding musicianship is laid out for all to hear, a marvelous bisque of keyboard artistry. The album’s entirety is a sensational execution of Wakeman’s adroitness, and with vocals from Ashley Holt and Gary Pickford Hopkins, it still stands along with Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Six Wives of Henry VIII as one of his most astute pieces. –Mike DeGagne

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Steve Hackett – Wolflight (2015) [High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray Disc]

Name: Steve Hackett: Wolflight
Released: 2015
Genre: Rock, Prog Rock, Folk Rock
Artist: Banjo – Steve Hackett (tracks: 8), Bass – Chris Squire (tracks: 3), Eiður Arnarsson (tracks: 12), Bass, Chapman Stick – Nick Beggs (tracks: 8), Design – Harry Pearce, Didgeridoo – Sára Kovács (tracks: 2), Drums – Benedikt Brynleifsson (tracks: 12), Gary O’Toole (tracks: 1,5,8), Hugo Degenhardt (tracks: 9,10), Ólafur Hólm Einarsson (tracks: 12), Duduk – Rob Townsend (3) (tracks: 5), Guitar – Steve Hackett (tracks: 1-12), Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson (tracks: 12), Harmonica – Steve Hackett (tracks: 4,8), Keyboards – Kjartan Valdemarsson (tracks: 12), Roger King (tracks: 1-10), Mastered By – Roger King, Oud – Steve Hackett (tracks: 5,9), Percussion – Steve Hackett (tracks: 1,4,7), Photography – Angéla Vincedomini, Maurizio Vincedomini, Producer – Roger King (tracks: 1-11), Steve Hackett (tracks: 1-11), Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson (tracks: 12), Recorded By – Roger King (tracks: 1-11), Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson (tracks: 12), Saxophone – Rob Townsend (3) (tracks: 4,8), Tar – Malik Mansurov (tracks: 2), Tipple – Steve Hackett (tracks: 7), Violin, Viola – Christine Townsend (tracks: 1-4,8), Vocals – Amanda Lehmann (tracks: 2-4,8), Eythor Ingi Gunnlaugsson (tracks: 12), Jo Hackett (tracks: 4), Steve Hackett (tracks: 2-5,7,8,10)

Issued: United States | Inside Out Music
Duration: 1:03:03
Size: 21.5 GB

Wolflight is Steve’s first original solo studio album since Beyond The Shrouded Horizon in 2011. Primal and orchestral, it retains the Hackett trademark as electric guitar runs right the way through with a regular sprinkling of acoustic. The concept behind it is a new unexplored chapter in the guitarist’s career.

The ten tracks take the listener through a journey in space and time looking at the different faces of the endless fight for freedom. Wandering between parallel universes, Hackett explores contemporary and ancient cultures, from Greece (Corycian Fire) to the Far East (Wolflight), the USA and Martin Luther King (Black Thunder), but also his very own childhood memories (The Wheel’s Turning) and the unresolved drama of domestic violence (Love Song to a Vampire).

An excited Steve Hackett tells us more about the record: “My new rock album Wolflight is at the ready and lying in wait. It reflects everybody’s struggle for freedom on a journey travelling through both inner and outer space. It explores sounds from as far afield as Greece, Azerbaijan, the deep American South, Sahara desert and beyond, from all our yesterdays, evoking the ancient past”.

Steve Hackett’s electric guitar plays a powerful role, whilst we also hear him on acoustic guitar, Arabian lute and twelve string, along with his strong lead vocals. Guest Musicians include long time collaborators Roger King (Keyboards & programming), Gary O’Toole (drums), Rob Townsend (sax, duduk), Nick Beggs (bass & stick) and Amanda Lehmann (harmony vocals). Malik Mansurov on tar and Sara Kovaks on didgeridoo add an extra exotic element, plus YES bassist Chris Squire plays on Love Song to a Vampire and Hugo Dagenhardt plays drums on Dust and Dreams. The innovative song writing team includes Steve Hackett, his wife Jo Hackett and also Roger King.

Recorded: Tracks 1-11 recorded and mixed by Roger King at Map Studios; Track 12 recorded and mixed by Thorvaldur B. Thorvaldsson; Interviews filmed by Paul Green Productions.

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Nana Mizuki – Angel Blossom (2015) Blu-ray JPN 1080p AVC LPCM 2.0

Title: Nana Mizuki – Angel Blossom
Original title: 水 樹 奈 々 – Angel Blossom
Released: 2015
Genre: Jpop, Jpock

Issued: Japan, King Records
Duration: 00:24:58
Size: 6.22 GB

1. Angel Blossom (MUSIC VIDEO)
2. MAKING OF Angel Blossom

Technical Specs
BD-25 Layer Disc
Video Resolution/Codec
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s)
Audio Formats
Japan LPCM 2.0 1536 Kbps

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BSO / Charles Munch / Jascha Heifetz – Beethoven & Mendelsohn: Violin Concertos (2006) [Hybrid-SACD] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Beethoven / Mendelsohn: Violin Concertos
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Charles Munch / Jascha Heifetz
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 2,30 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,12, GB | Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: RCA Red Seal “Living Stereo” # 82876-61391-2 | Country/Year: US 2006, 1955 & 1959
Genre: Classical | Style: Viennese School

These reissues are undoubtedly amongst the most treasured recordings of these fine pieces. There must be 50 or more interpretations of the Beethoven currently available, but you must hear Heifetz. No schmaltz. He articulates Beethoven as Beethoven wrote the concerto. The emotion is there…in the music. No extra added flourishes are needed. In fact, they can easily be a negative, so well constructed is this work. The Mendelssohn is also spectacular. Listening to Heifetz makes one wish he were alive in his heyday. It makes you wonder what Paganini really sounded like! The tempi are fast, yet it doesn’t sound rushed at all. Heifetz articulates every note; his technique is incomparable.
As a child, I wore out the grooves on this recording.
The recording quality is remarkable. The Beethoven is in 2ch, even on SACD “multi”, because the original recording was stereo. But the Mendelssohn master is 3ch, and is thus presented. The center channel stabilizes the position of the violin. No “sweet spot” problems…it sounds good from any part of the couch! The clarity is surprisingly good considering a 50+ year old tape. Current recording engineers could learn a thing or two from these old gems. The SACD rendering truly gives you the feel of analog, the warmth of the violin, while adding dynamic range and soundstage. The CD layer is also quite good, just a little restricted…only in comparison to the SACD.
After this purchase, I am seriously thinking of buying all the rest of the “Living Stereo” series. And I hope that all those legendary performances get their tapes dusted off, and made into SACDs
I don’t care how many versions of these concerti you have…If you don’t have a Heifetz recording you are missing out, and this SACD is the one to have. Go buy it now.

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Art Taylor – Taylor’s Wailers (1957) [APO Remaster 2012] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Art Taylor – Taylor’s Wailers (1957) [APO Remaster 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 40:49 minutes | Scans included | 1,65 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 764 MB

Five of the six selections on this reissue feature drummer Art Taylor in an all-star sextet of mostly young players comprised of trumpeter Donald Byrd, altoist Jackie McLean, Charlie Rouse on tenor, pianist Ray Bryant, and bassist Wendell Marshall. Among the highpoints of the 1957 hard bop date are the original version of Bryant’s popular “Cubano Chant” and strong renditions of two Thelonious Monk tunes (“Off Minor” and “Well, You Needn’t”) cut just prior to the pianist/composer’s discovery by the jazz public. Bryant is the most mature of the soloists, but the three horn players were already starting to develop their own highly individual sounds. The remaining track (a version of Jimmy Heath’s “C.T.A.”) is played by the quartet of Taylor, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, and bassist Paul Chambers and is a leftover (although a good one) from another session.

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Art Taylor – A.T.’s Delight (1960) [APO Remaster 2009] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Art Taylor – A.T.’s Delight (1960) [APO Remaster 2009]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 36:56 minutes | Scans included | 1,56 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 783 MB

Although Art Taylor was one of the busiest modern second-generation jazz drummers, working in the studio with Coleman Hawkins, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane and many others, he only released five albums under his own name, of which A.T.’s Delight was the third. And a delight it is indeed, bright and percussive, and when conga player Carlos “Patato” Valdes joins Taylor and pianist Wynton Kelly and bassist Paul Chambers on three cuts (Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy,” “Move” and a Taylor calypso-inflected original called “Cookoo and Fungi”), the rhythm pocket opens into a deep blue sea for the horn men (Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax and Dave Burns on trumpet). “Move” does exactly that, it moves, and at a blistering pace. Monk’s “Epistrophy,” thanks in part to Valdes, reveals its rumba roots, and has never sounded brighter. The seldom-covered Coltrane composition “Syeeda’s Song Flute” seems likewise refreshed and revived. The lone Taylor original, the driving “Cookoo and Fungi,” is as sharp and alert is a kitten waking from a nap in the spring sun, and Taylor’s drum solo is crisp, efficient and slides seamlessly into the calypso-informed main theme. A.T.’s Delight is a solid outing, with a wonderfully nervous but completely focused energy.

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Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (2013/2014) {3-Disc Box Set} Blu-ray 1080i AVC DTS-HD 5.0

Title: Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9
Year: 2014/2014
Genre: Classical
Conductor: Iván Fischer
Artist: Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Gerald Finley (bass), Myrtò Papatanasiu (soprano), Burkhard Fritz (tenor), Netherlands Radio Choir, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest)

Issued: United States | Naxos
Duration: 381: 55
Size: 101.51 GB

The Beethoven symphonies: all nine of them stunning masterworks, all nine performed countless times. Be that as it may, there are conductors who can recontextualise these symphonies in such a way that they sound completely new, as Iván Fischer proved in 2013 and 2014 in his Beethoven Series with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, spread out over two seasons. A veritable journey of discovery through a familiar landscape.
Recorded Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 11 May 2013 (1, 2 & 5), 31 May 2013 (3 & 4), 9-10 January 2014 (6 & 7), 20-21 February 2014 (8 & 9).

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Oswald, Napoleao – Piano Concertos – Artur Pizarro, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Martyn Brabbins (2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Oswald, Napoleao – Piano Concertos – Artur Pizarro, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Martyn Brabbins (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 01:07:09 minutes | 1.12 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | © Hyperion Records
Recorded: October 2013 at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, Wales

Portuguese virtuoso Artur Pizarro makes a welcome return to the Romantic Piano Concerto series with the outpourings of two brilliant pianist-composers. Their names may not be familiar to listeners today. The Brazilian Henrique Oswald and the Portuguese Alfredo Napoleão were born in the same year, less than three months apart, when Schumann, Brahms and Liszt were alive and Chopin recently deceased. Both were of mixed European heritage: Oswald with a Swiss-German father and Italian mother, Napoleão with an Italian father and Portuguese mother. Both were child prodigies who became widely travelled concert pianists, pedagogues and composers. In 1868 Oswald gave his ‘farewell recital’ and left Rio de Janeiro to study in Europe; Napoleão went to Brazil.
Oswald’s Piano Concerto in G minor, Op 10, dates from about 1886, the year he met Liszt. Although influences of Fauré can be detected in the second theme, the overall character of the first movement owes more to the late Romantic German style. The orchestration is rich and full, but the Tchaikovskian athleticism and virtuosity of the piano-writing keep the soloist to the fore.
Napoleão’s Piano Concerto No 2 in E flat minor, Op 31, is undated but was probably composed around the same time as Oswald’s Piano Concerto. Although Napoleão performed the concerto in a solo piano version, the first performance with orchestra had to wait until 12 February 1941. This was given by Evaristo de Campos Coelho (1903–1988)—with whom Artur Pizarro, the pianist on the present recording, studied as a young child. He played the work numerous times, and performed it for Portuguese radio. Dinorah Leitão (who was Ivo Cruz’s daughter in law, and also a student of Campos Coelho) then played it, and Artur Pizarro is only the third pianist to champion this work.

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