Archive for September, 2010

Springsteen’s “Meet the Flintsones”

Speaks for itself….

Bob

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 Audiophile, Bob, Humor, Music Comments Off

Krell Founder Launches New Very-High-End Company

Dan D’Agostino has a new company: Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems.

And his first product is – surprise – a mega amplifier! And a beauty it is (pic below)…

Sporting 300 wpc, very fast transistors, and a unique industrial design, the 90-pound monoblocks retail for $42K.

A preamp is in the works.

I will try to get a stack for a BAAS event in 2011….

Bob

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 Audiophile, Bob, News Comments Off

Bose Bets Big on Audio in New HDTV

Bose, that most (in)famous name in high-end audio, is betting big that the audio features of its new TV will allow premium pricing.

The 46″ ‘VideoWave’ sports a fancy tuned-pipe sound system a la many of Bose’s other products.

However, at a list price of over $5K, the set will have to compete with some very fine TV’s in the $1K-$2K range. You don’t have to be an audio expert to figure that a lot of goodness can be bought with the $3K-$4K delta:

  • Oppo ‘audiophile’ Bluray – $1K
  • Very decent amp – $500
  • Competent 2-way mini-towers – $2K
  • Small sub – $500

Hmmm…I hope that Bose TV sounds good, ’cause I know the setup above will!

More info from the WSJ here.

And even more, including video, here.

Bob

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 Audiophile, Bob, News Comments Off

Silverman’s Mastery of Beethoven Continues

- Guest Post by Ori Mizrahi-Shalom -

A week after the first solo concert, Robert Silverman played the second evening of Beethoven sonatas. It was the same place, almost the same people, and I’m glad to say – the same pianist. Just better…

First, arriving at Le Petit Trianon, I had to circle the street several times to find a parking spot. I thought to myself “is this concert series becoming THAT popular?”

In short, no. There turned out to be some big screen and lots of kids on the next street, listening to some shallow speech with ads in the background. What a surreal concept. They could have been all enjoying a great evening of REAL music and outstanding entertainment just thirty seconds away. The sign of our time…

The selection that evening went from elementary to supremely hard. If you know the music, then you probably know what I mean. There was method to the madness, I think.

The first half of the evening was on the light side. Not overly demanding on technique, which requires special “flare” from the pianist to lift it up above the average. Silverman delivered this music with good phrasing and deep emotions. His interpretation of the music sounded to me very personal, the way that now I can identify with his style: thoughtful elegance, playing the fine line between the basic well-phrased theme and the explosive “show off” urge, that he sometimes still succumbs to…

I have no doubt in my mind that this back and forth stylistic contrast will be obvious on the final recordings and in fact I would be disappointed if it didn’t. That’s where the character of the musician shows and where the music takes a life of its own.

The second half of the evening included the more demanding sonata no 22 and the famous Appassionata. I know you’d expect me to rave about the latter and I indeed shall, but not for the obvious reasons.

As I mentioned in my first review, it’s easy to like Silverman with popular music, which the Appassionata surely is. The question is: can you LOVE Silverman playing popular music as such?

Sonata no 22 is quite demanding. Silverman usually plays from memory but for this one he had the sheet music. Tells you something… He ended up dropping a page on the floor and still finished it with striking brilliance. Tells you something… I remember that because at the end he threw a joke “I didn’t need it after all!”  This ability to go deep into the music and then “come down to earth” and connect with the audience is what made the event even more special. But then came the finale.

Appassionata is a demanding piece. Silverman did not need the sheet music for it. Perhaps it’s just impossible to read as you play at the intense levels that it demands. Perhaps it’s a testimony to the great familiarity with this music. Whatever it is, the musicianship was brilliant. Such an intense mix of music and outstanding polished technique is not something you witness every day.

I’m sure Silverman does not wish to feel that “spent” every time he plays the piece. You could tell it when he took a long pause after the first movement (and the long cheers) and took the time to wipe his forehead and take a deep breath. Perhaps Beethoven intended for it to be just like this and followed it by a much more relaxed second movement, which was also delivered in a magical way. The third and final movement is definitely another upward climb and was a perfect climax to a superb evening of piano music.

I don’t have to summarize that one because I already did that before writing the first line of this report a week after the event. The last paragraph was written first and it’s most appropriate! The evening of the concert, I sent a short email to Bob Walters:

You should have made it to the concert. I don’t think that I’ll ever in my lifetime hear piano playing at that level. The Appassionata must be Silverman’s favorite piece! What a night!

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 Audiophile, Music, Ori Comments Off

3d Audio: The Best Surround Sound Ever? (Video)

Edgar Choueiri, a Princeton University astrophysicist, is now working in field of “3D audio.” The work is being done in Princeton’s 3-D Audio and Applied Acoustics Lab (an organization that I don’t remember from my time at Princeton), and funded by “Project X” (don’t ask). The video shows a New Jersey audiophile being won over by the experience. Enjoy.

Bob

Princeton University rocket scientist boldly goes where no ears have gone before

First reported by Nyier Abdou of the NJ The Star-Ledger (link here).

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 Audiophile, Bob, News Comments Off

Amarra and Salk Treat Bay Area Audiophiles

About 50 BAAS members were treated to great music and great sound yesterday, courtesy of the Amarra music player system and Salk Soundscape 10 loudspeakers.

Not only did we have the fine Amarra software on hand, but the Amarra team arrived in force to teach, answer questions, and evangelize computer playback. In addition, we sampled the Sonic Studio 305 ADC/DAC and brand-new (and uber expensive) linear power supply for same. Both were excellent IMO – powerful features and great sound.

And members were literally raving about the Salk speakers (see forums). At their $10K introductory price (internet-direct), many members considered them a huge value as well.

Great stuff – and many thanks to the Amarra team and Jim Salk!

Bob

Sunday, September 19th, 2010 Audiophile, Bob, Events, Music Server 1 Comment

$1 Vinyl – Just Like the Old Days!

Friday, September 17th, 2010 Analog, Announcements, Audiophile Comments Off

“Everything is a Remix” – A Very Cool Site

Literate and fun, from Howlin’ Wolf to Led Zep to ???

Click here to go to the blog/site.

Bob

Friday, September 17th, 2010 Audiophile, Bob, General, Humor, Music Comments Off

Free Bax/Mahler/Barber Concerts in Sonoma in October

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SONOMA COUNTY, CA – SEPTEMBER 11, 2010


WHO: AMERICAN PHILHARMONIC – SONOMA COUNTY
Gabriel Sakakeeny, Musical Director

WHAT: “Echoes of Innocence”

Conducted by Gabriel Sakakeeny
Soprano Soloist – Christa Pfeiffer
Bax – Summer Music
Barber – Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Mahler – Symphony #4

WHERE: WELLS FARGO CENTER FOR THE ARTS
50 MARK WEST SPRINGS ROAD, SANTA ROSA
WHEN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2010, 8:00PM
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2010, 3:00PM

Let the angelic voice of soprano Christa Pfeiffer transport you to a place of beauty, innocence, and truth as Maestro Sakakeeny and the orchestra evoke the romance of both the new and old worlds.
APSC has been giving concerts free of charge since 1999, sustained almost completely on the generosity of donations by audience members. To help us continue our mission to make the beauty of music and the power of community alive and available for everyone, a $20 donation would be gratefully accepted.
Tickets to the October 2 and 3 concerts are free of charge, feature open seating , and are available at the door 60 minutes prior to the concert. For more information please visit www.apsonoma.org.

Wheelchair accessible
American Philharmonic – Sonoma County
P.O. Box 7438
Cotati, CA 94931
www.apsonoma.org
Friday, September 17th, 2010 Announcements, Audiophile, Music Comments Off

2010 Sonoma Classical Performance Schedule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2010                        Media Contact: Wallace Breitman

707-939-3683

wa11yb@hughes.net

CYPRESS STRING QUARTET INAUGURATES SEVENTH SEASON OF CLASSICAL MUSIC IN SONOMA ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21

The Sonoma Classical Music Society inaugurates its seventh season of bringing great classical music to Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley when it presents the acclaimed San Francisco based Cypress String Quartet on Sunday, November 21, 2010, at 3:00 pm in Burlingame Hall, 252 West Spain Street, Sonoma.  Formed in 1996, the Cypress String Quartet, comprised of Cecily Ward, violin, Tom Stone, violin, Ethan Filner, viola, and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello, is noted for its elegant performances and its sound has been called “beautifully proportioned and powerful.  Tickets are $20 for members of the Society, $25 for adults, and $10 for students.  They will be available from the Society’s website, www.sonomaclassical.org, Reader’s Books, Pharmaca, and at the door

At the November 21 concert, the Cypress String Quartet will perform Mozart’s String Quartet in C major, K. 465, nicknamed “Dissonant,” the last of the set of six quartets which Mozart dedicated to his friend Franz Joseph Haydn and one of his most famous works; Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff’s Five Pieces for String Quartet, a set of delightful dances which integrates modernist vocabulary, neoclassical elements, jazz and dance rhythms from a variety of sources and cultures; and Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor, op. 10, premiered in December 1893, influenced by Javanese gamelan music, and based solely on four tones and their relation to one another.

The Cypress is recording the Beethoven late quartets, having released the first of three discs in August 2009 to great acclaim (Gramophone praised it as “revealing artistry of uncommon insight and cohesion.”), with the second disc released in August 2010 and the third scheduled for a 2011 release.  The quartet members trained individually at institutions including the Juilliard School, Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Royal Academy of Music.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a superb ensemble perform great classical music live in Sonoma!

The next concert in the Sonoma Classical Music Society’s 2010 – 2011 season will be in January 2011.

About the Sonoma Classical Music Society

The Sonoma Classical Music Society was formed in 2004 with the mission of sponsoring a series of classical music concerts in Sonoma of the highest professional quality.  An application for membership in the Sonoma Classical Music Society may be obtained at the website: www.sonomaclassical.org.

Friday, September 17th, 2010 Announcements, Audiophile, Bob, Events, General, Music Comments Off

Silverman Masterful in Audio High Concert Series

— Guest Post by Ori Mizrahi-Shalom —

Background.  Many of us know pianist Robert Silverman through the Stereophile CD projects. In those, Silverman always showed a great mastery of the instrument. His touch is firm and his delivery smooth and powerful.

Prelude: 2009. BAAS members had the opportunity to hear Silverman last year at the Sherman Clay Steinway Store in Santa Clara (also organized by Audio High’s Michael Silver). During that rehearsal gig, I felt that he excelled at the virtuoso pieces, where speed and brilliance coupled with decades of familiarity with the instrument definitely pay dividends. It’s easy to like Silverman with “popular” music! I was less drawn to his interpretation of the more intimate pieces, however, where a musician must connect with the music and the audience by creating the ‘right’ mood and atmosphere. In those, technical qualities take a second place to deep soul-searching. I came out of the session last year not quite satisfied: it left me wanting for something more.

Recital I: September 9th 2010. I know the Le Petit Trianon Theater in San Jose from other concerts. It is a jewel! This 340 seat theater offers superb (!) acoustics. It is small enough to enjoy the music from practically every seat in the house but it’s even better when you pick your own… I was disappointed to see so few BAAS members. The theater was far from being full and that is a real pity, especially considering the good cause of raising funds for Stanford Children’s Hospital “rooms of magic” project. Perhaps the Thursday evening timing proved a challenge.

[If you'd like to attend Recital II this Thursday (9/16), let me know.  - Bob]

This concert was the first of a planned eight recording sessions encompassing the complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle. There was no soundman on stage, no drama. Just a few microphones and some equipment behind the piano. And a cover on the piano bench to absorb the squeaks…

My Reaction. Silverman showed up more than ready for the challenge.

Like all things in life, music requires a warm up and I found the first two movements to be in that category: decent but not entirely thrilling. But as the evening progressed, things got better and better.

The second sonata was the “highlight” of the evening and it suited Silverman’s style well. The “Waldstein” offers a virtuoso player anything he could wish for, and Silverman stepped beyond mere technical mastery. He added sensitive phrasing and smoothness that I haven’t heard from his previous recordings or the live session last year. It was the kind of music that I was hoping to hear but wasn’t sure I would.

I was delighted to hear music of great elegance, music which meshed delicate interpretation with a brilliant performance. I was for me a moment of musical heaven, and I’d like to believe that most of the audience had recognized the same joy. The cheers at the end of this second sonata left no mistake about that.

After the short intermission the audience was treated to more of the same. Silverman was “in the zone” and continued to deliver the goods. Suffice to say that the second half of the program was even better than the first!

I can sit at home and listen to great recordings on my system and I do enjoy that aspect of my love of music. On the other hand, any time I hear great music performed live by a master of the instrument, I recognize immediately how much the live music is superior to the recorded one. It’s the kind of experience that adds to my appreciation of music and musical arts.

If you got to this point in this article and did not doze off then you must be a music lover yourself. Take my advice and attend some of the follow up sessions. Beethoven sonatas seem to have just the right mix of soul and playfullness that matches Silverman to the tee and the result is pure musical joy. In a sense, Silverman faithfully followed the note for the first movement of sonata no. 28 by the Master himself: somewhat lively with the deepest feeling. Bravo!!!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 Events, Music, Ori Comments Off
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