Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphonies Nos.1-3 – Wiener Philharmoniker, Christian Thielemann (2011/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48kHz | Time – 01:57:11 minutes | 1,09 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Sony Music Entertainment
Recorded: Wiener Musikverein; Nos. 1-2: December 2008; Nos. 3: March 2009

At a time when it seems that the contemporary movement for historically informed practices has won over most performers of Ludwig van Beethoven’s nine symphonies, along comes Christian Thielemann to spin the clock back to the mindset of the mid-20th century. Interpreting the symphonies with a conventional, even hidebound, approach that bears no sign of late Classical scholarship (streamlined tempos, smaller orchestras, original instrumentation, or other aspects of the way the music was actually played in the composer’s time), Thielemann presents a Beethoven that is rather more in the manner of Wilhelm Furtwängler than of, say, John Eliot Gardiner. Listeners who have not yet taken the plunge into authentic period practices may have wondered where the traditionalist could turn for old-fashioned, Teutonic performances that employ a full modern orchestra, conform to expected (i.e., slower) tempos, and generally have a homogenized orchestral blend with thick textures. Here is Thielemann, unapologetic and confident, and for what it is, his set is a solid, dependable cycle that doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, and it will not disappoint its intended audience. Indeed, the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the last bastions of tradition, and Thielemann surely will satisfy all who are nostalgic for the old style. There are some eccentricities of particular interest in the Finale of the Ninth, where Thielemann surprises with sneak-attack accelerandos, and his breakneck speed in the final pages will leave anyone breathless. But on the whole, this is a conservative’s vision of Beethoven, and the live performances really bring the not-so-distant past to life. This deluxe box set offers six CDs and a DVD, Making van Beethoven, stored in a hard cover book with liner notes and a cloth-covered slipcase. –Blair Sanderson

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Johannes Brahms – Violin Concerto, String Sextet No.2 – Isabelle Faust, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Harding (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz | Time – 01:14:44 minutes | 720 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © 2011 harmonia mundi sa
Recorded: février 2010, Sociedad Filarmónica de Bilbao (Concerto) & septembre 2010, Teldex Studio Berlin (Sextuor)

Isabelle Faust goes back to the roots of one of the most famous Romantic concertos, which is also one of the most difficult from a technical point of view: did Hans von Bülow not call it a ‘concerto against the violin’? Born of close collaboration between Brahms and the violinist Joseph Joachim, the work is a fine testimony to friendship – whereas the Sextet op.36 is directly linked to the love affair between the composer and the beautiful Agathe von Siebold.

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Leonard Bernstein – West Side Story – San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:22:51 minutes | 1,62 GB | Genre: Classical, Soundtrack
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks |  © SFS Media
Recorded live in PCM 96 kHz/24-bit audio June 27 – July 2, 2013 at Davies Symphony Hall — a venue of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, City and County of San Francisco.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony present a new live recording of the first-ever concert performances of Leonard Bernstein’s complete score for the beloved musical West Side Story. The recording boasts a talented cast of Broadway actors led by Alexandra Silber (Maria) and Cheyenne Jackson (Tony) alongside members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. This Collector’s Edition 2-Disc Set includes a 100-page booklet featuring a new interview with MTT, notes from Rita Moreno and Jamie Bernstein, as well as a West Side Story historical timeline, archival photographs, complete lyrics, and rehearsal and performance photos. Presented in a High Definition Premium Audio Hybrid SACD* Set, this must-have album is the latest treasure from the Orchestra’s very own SFS Media label.

The performances were recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall in late June and early July 2013 after Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony became the first orchestra to receive permission from all four West Side Story rights-holders to perform and record the musical score in its entirety in a concert setting. Of the new recording, Michael Tilson Thomas said, “This is a new and rare opportunity to hear Bernstein’s complete score sung by a sensational young cast and a knock-your-socks-off orchestra. The San Francisco Symphony totally understands and feels this music. We show the Broadway roots of the piece and how its universal qualities translate into the way we think about it today.”

Recorded live in PCM 96 kHz/24-bit audio June 27 – July 2, 2013 at Davies Symphony Hall — a venue of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, City and County of San Francisco.

Reviews

“It may prove to be the most significant recording of the show since the Original Broadway cast.”
Huffington Post

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Ludwig van Beethoven – Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II; Symphony No. 2 – San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:13:20 minutes | 1,32 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks |  © SFS Media
Recorded live in PCM 96 kHz/24-bit audio May 2-3, 2013 at Davies Symphony Hall — a venue of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, City and County of San Francisco.

This powerful new recording from Michael Tilson Thomas and the Grammy award-winning San Francisco Symphony and Chorus features two works from early in Beethoven’s career. The rarely performed and recorded Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II for chorus, vocal soloists, and orchestra is a glorious and profoundly moving tribute written by the 19-year-old Beethoven and clearly foreshadows greatness to come. In his playful Second Symphony, Beethoven shows us what a true master he had become.

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Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel (1974) [MFSL 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 36:48 minutes | Scans included | 1,48 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 722 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2059
Genre: Rock

Gram Parsons fondness for drugs and high living are said to have been catching up with him while he was recording Grievous Angel, and sadly he wouldn’t live long enough to see it reach record stores, dying from a drug overdose in the fall of 1973. This album is a less ambitious and unified set than his solo debut, but that’s to say that G.P. was a great album while Grievous Angel was instead a very, very good one. Much of the same band that played on his solo debut were brought back for this set, and they perform with the same effortless grace and authority (especially guitarist James Burton and fiddler Byron Berline). If Parsons was slowing down a bit as a songwriter, he still had plenty of gems on hand from more productive days, such as “Brass Buttons” and “Hickory Wind (which wasn’t really recorded live in Northern Quebec; that’s just Gram and the band ripping it up live in the studio, with a handful of friends whooping it up to create honky-tonk atmosphere). He also proved to be a shrewd judge of other folks material as always; Tom T. Hall’s “I Can’t Dance” is a strong barroom rocker, and everyone seems to be having a great time on The Louvin Brothers’s “Cash on the Barrelhead.” As a vocal duo, Parsons and Emmylou Harris only improved on this set, turning in a version of “Love Hurts” so quietly impassioned and delicately beautiful that it’s enough to make you forget Roy Orbison ever recorded it. And while he didn’t plan on it, Parsons could hardly have picked a better closing gesture than “In My Hour of Darkness.” Grievous Angel may not have been the finest work of his career, but one would be hard pressed to name an artist who made an album this strong only a few weeks before their death — or at any time of their life, for that matter. (more…)