A Gorgeous Debut from the Sibelius Piano Trio

…once you hear [The Sibelius Piano Trio’s debut album] from Yarlung Records, best appreciated via stereo and multi-channel DSD downloads from NativeDSD.com… you’ll understand why their debut recording of trios by Sibelius and contemporary composers deserves a place in your collection. [Pianist Juho Pohjonen] is distinguished by deep sensitivity and lucid insights. Like him, violinist Petteri Iivonen (b. 1987) and cellist Samuli Peltonen (b. 1981) have won top prizes in national and international competitions, and used them to launch international careers. IIvonen is actually famed Finish composer Kaija Saariaho’s violinist of choice for her Violin Concerto, which is saying quite a lot. Together, these three friends formed the Sibelius Piano Trio just two years ago. For a new ensemble that has only performed once in the U.S., and does not yet have a viable website, they’ve certainly racked up several impressive commissions. The discs contain three intriguing works written for Continue Reading →

Analog Planet article “Three Percussion Records You Should Own”

Michael Fremer includes “Smoke & Mirrors” in his Analog Planet article “Three Percussion Records You Should Own” Smoke & Mirrors is another collection of “serious” (yet fun) works for percussion recorded in Zipper Hall, Los Angeles, June 7-10, 2011 and June 3-5, 2012. I think they had to wait a year to finish up after the first recording session in order for the hall reverberation to stop! This was recorded to analog tape using a single AKG C24 tube microphone and features the ensemble playing their own tunes plus one by Maurice Ravel. The sonics here are spectacular, in some ways the best of the three records covered here, and presented at 45rpm because the 33 1/3 test pressing proved too difficult for most tone arms and cartridges to track. At 45rpm you should have no difficulty. These performances were recorded live to tape with no editing by the seven Continue Reading →

“James Matheson” earns coveted spot in the Stereophile Magazine “Records to Die for 2017” lineup!

James Matheson: Violin Concerto, String Quartet, Times Alone Baird Dodge, violin; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Color Field Quartet; Laura Strickling, soprano; Thomas Sauer, piano The two-channel version of this release, fine in its own right, is available on CD and on three individual LPs: Yarlung YAR65005-670V, YAR25668-670V, and YAR25669-670V. However, my real motivation for this R2D4 listing is the DSD256 five-channel version, downloadable from NativeDSD. With no prior knowledge or expectations of James Matheson’s music, the slashing opening of Taut, energetic, the aptly titled first movement of his String Quartet, hooked me. Not only was the music gripping and appealing, the multichannel sound was completely involving. Matheson is a living composer for whom direct and emotional communication is not compromised by an unintelligible style or obscured by adherence to dated ones. His String Quartet is dramatic, his Violin Concerto virtuosic and witty, and oh, the lovely songs of Times Continue Reading →

Dr. David W. Robinson awards a 2016 Brutus Award to Yarlung Records

The Great Dr. David W. Robinson awards a 2016 Brutus Award to Yarlung Records, with special mention of Yarlung’s analog tape releases and “James Matheson” on DSD: I can’t complete this set of Brutus Awards without a special tip o’ my hat to Bob Attiyeh and Yarlung Records. His production values and remarkable recordings in classic 15 IPS half-track analog tape on a fabulous SonoruS RTR recorder, and then transferred to Quad DSD via a Merging Technologies Hapi Quad DSD ADC and available on the NativeDSD.com site, have been a wonderful treat for me for the past several years. Bob has a lovely sensibility for the music, energized by an inspiring passion for both fine classical and jazz recordings. This year has seen more brilliant work from Bob, all of which can be accessed at his store on NativeDSD.com. Bob, this one’s for you! A Brutus Award for the Matheson Continue Reading →

Pianist Sasaki Tackles Clara Schumann

… Mika Sasaki strikes a happy medium between sensitivity of phrasing and boldness of attack. Her tone is rich and full with a wide range of dynamics and a judicious use of pedal. [Max Grafe’s Obsidian Liturgy is] to my ears the highlight of this album. The adventurous quality of the composition has some affinity to Robert Schumann, who has always been noted for his unexpected turns of phrase and emotional outbursts, although Grafe definitely has his own style. One might best describe it as “modernistic Romanticism,” as it is filled with an almost explosive outpouring of emotion yet is contained in a vessel of bitonality. What impressed me most, however, was Grafe’s sense of structure: he never loses sight of where his music is going, mood shifts or no mood shifts, and his grasp of mood is equally outstanding. Lynn René Bayley reviews for The Art Music Lounge, October Continue Reading →

Sibelius Piano Trio Yarlung (2 CDs)

by composer and music critic Mark Lehman Though renowned for his symphonic works, Sibelius wrote a lot of chamber music too, much of it in his early career, that remains little known.  This includes several piano trios from the 1880s that the young composer (an accomplished violinist) wrote to play with his brother and sister.  They sound nothing like his mature masterpieces but are nevertheless charming, expertly made, and brimming over with dandy tunes, inventive but always idiomatic and transparent instrumental textures, and a youthful, high-spirited delight in music-making. Korppoo Trio is the most ambitious and expansive of the three Sibelius trios on Yarlung’s program, coming in at 26 minutes, its fluent, melodic opening allegro interrupted on occasion by stabbing, rather Beethovenian assertions and even a clean-lined fugato at one point, though the overall form is classic in outline and clear as a bell.  The second movement unfolds elaborate episodes that Continue Reading →

Award-Winning Label Achieves State-of-the-Art Sound

Yarlung Recording Session – by Robert Harley Though a small label, Yarlung Records has, since releasing its first album in 2005, made itself noticed in the audiophile community and beyond, appearing on TAS’ newly updated Super LP List and winning a Grammy® award.  So I was excited to have an opportunity to attend a recent Yarlung recording session and witness firsthand the extraordinary engineering behind the company’s releases.  The recording session was more like a concert performance for a small invited group, with movements performed in their entirety rather than stitched together later in the editing room. The recording venue was the sonically and visually gorgeous Samueli Theater, part of the larger Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California.  Samueli’s smaller space is ideal for chamber music. The team set up three entirely separate recording chains, each with its own microphones, recorders, and engineers.  The three chains represented Continue Reading →

Obsidian CLARA SCHUMANN: KLAVIERWERKE

This new CD, Obsidian, pays homage to the piano music of Clara Schumann. Clara Schumann’s music has been neglected in recordings.  The album also pays homage to the two men in Clara Schumann’s life, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, interwoven with her as they were into a close friendship and kind of love triangle. The album takes its name from Obsidian Liturgy, written by composer Max Grafe on the occasion of the 120th and 160th birthday of Clara and Robert Schumann in 2016 and in honor of Clara Schumann and Mika Sasaki, our piano soloist on this recording. Grafe’s 10-minute work includes several sections: “Invocation”, “Canticle”, “Incantation”, “Trance”, “Peal”, “Benedictus” and “Ite, missa est.” The intense musical language and the pianist genius of Clara Schumann are particularly evident in the Scherzo in C minor, op. 14, the Three Preludes and Fugues Op. 16, and the variations on a theme by Continue Reading →

Jim Matheson and Baird Dodge celebrate release of new CD

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrates Jim Matheson and Baird Dodge and the release of their new Yarlung CD The odds were slim that Baird Dodge, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal second violin, and James Matheson, a New York-based composer, would have met some 25 years ago while attending Swarthmore College. Though Dodge studied violin at The Juilliard School in its pre-college division, his undergraduate major at Swarthmore was chemistry. Matheson, born in the Midwest, was a philosophy and music major, yet his preferred instrument was electric guitar, which he played in a rock band. But strike up a friendship they did, and Dodge is the featured soloist with the CSO in a new CD release from Yarlung Records that features Matheson’s Violin Concerto, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. A co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the piece was written for Dodge and recorded during its world premiere performances in December 2011 Continue Reading →

“James Matheson” reviewed in the WholeNote by Terry Robbins

James Mathesons String Quartet was premiered by the St. Lawrence String Quartet in February 2014 and is played here by the Color Field Quartet. It’s an accessible three-movement work of decided substance, with some excellent instrumental writing and a lot of energy. The leader of the quartet, Baird Dodge, has been principal second violin with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2002, and is the soloist in … Matheson’s Violin Concerto. Matheson and Dodge were roommates at college in the 1990s, and Dodge had harboured the idea of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioning a violin concerto from Matheson ever since joining the orchestra. It finally came to fruition as a co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic when conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen added his support. The recording here is of the concerto’s premiere performance on December 15, 2011, in Chicago with Salonen leading the CSO with Dodge as the soloist. It’s a striking work Continue Reading →