Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt playing Brahms Outstandingly Well

Christian Tetzlaff & Lars Vogt

I must admit I only discovered Christian Tetzlaff’s outstanding talent in the last two years. There are so many talented female violinists out there, as a self-declared Isabelle Faust fanboy, and then there’s Janine Jansen, Alina Ibragimova, Vilde Frang, etc. etc.

My first formal review of any of his albums was his 2020 recording of the Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos with the DSO, which promptly made it into my Top 5 classical albums of 2020.

Lars Vogt I already followed for longer, he initially came to my attention with his beautiful recording of the Schumann and Grieg back in the Birmingham days of Simon Rattle.

I really appreciated his excellent recordings of the Brahms piano concertos with the Royal Northern Symphonia in the last 2 years (though I totally missed to formally review them here, will have to follow up on that).

I already had the pleasure of hearing Lars Vogt live, playing Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto with the Zurich Tonhalle under Paavo Järvi. A memorable experience.

Tetzlaff and Vogt have been playing chamber music together for a long time, both in a duo setup as well as in a piano trio with Tetzlaff’s sister.

Brahms Violin Sonatas

Brahms’ violin sonatas No. 1 and 3 were among the earliest works I owned on CD, in the great recording with Henryk Szerying and Anton Rubinstein. I discovered the sonata No. 2 only much later, it seems to be much less loved than the two other ones

My modern reference recording so far is (obviously) Isabelle Faust, as reviewed here. So how does the duo Tetzlaff/Vogt compare to the dream team Faust/Melnikov?

Brahms: The Violin Sonatas – Christian Tetzlaff – Lars Vogt (Ondine 2016)

Brahms: The Violin Sonatas Christian Tetzlaff Lars Vogt Ondine 2016 24 96

Well, to make it short, very well indeed.

First of all, as opposed to Melnikov’s fortepiano, you get a modern concert grand (presumably a Steinway, couldn’t find any information in the booklet).

Well, this is as close to perfection as you can get with modern instruments. The sound overall is a bit broader, more “romantic”, than the (still excellent) reading of Faust and Melnikov, with broad vibrato, and a lot of rubato. You can hear the passion and love both artists have for these works. Gramophone agrees by the way, this was their “record of the month”.

As a side note, for the audiophiles among my readers, the label 2xHD has applied their remastering voodoo (a lot of Nagra and other stuff), making the excellent Ondine sound even more smooth.

My rating: 5 stars

You can find the regular Ondine recording here (Qobuz), or go here (Prestomusic) if you prefer the 2xHD remaster

Monty Alexander Love You Madly- An Audiophile and Musical Delight

I’m not an audiophile

OK, that statement is only partially true. I do care about the sound quality of my music, I have a mid-level speaker system and a high end headphone setup, and I did spend some time in hifi-shops figuring out which gear I like. I’m a man, and we like our toys.

But I still wouldn’t call myself an audiophile. This special category of nerds (nothing wrong with that, I’m certainly a classical music nerd as witnessed by me doing this blog) that just love tinkering, speaking about gear, and in some extremes would rather listen to the latest “audiophile” recording even if the music is mediocre (Jazz at the Pawnshop, anybody?).

That’s how my blogger name came to be, I called myself “Musicophile” as opposed to “audiophile”. And you’ll see that on this blog I’m pretty much exclusively writing about the musical qualities of the albums I discuss, and only rarely comment about the recording quality.

But every once in a while you’ll find recordings that are both a musical and an audiophile delight, so let me break my own rule and start 2022 after a 2 month hiatus (due to a lot going on at my day job) with one of those.

Monty Alexander – Love You Madly – Live At Bubba’s (Resonance Records / 2xHD 1982/2020)

Monty Alexander Love You Madly Live At Bubba's 2xHD DXD DSD

I’ve reviewed another Monty Alexander live album previously, his very enjoyable live concert at Montreux.

This recording is actually now 40 years old, it was recorded at a club in Florida back in 1982. It has recently been re-released in 2 formats, a regular 24/96 high-res remaster that already sounds really nice, and then in the format I’ll be discussing here, from the small audiophile table 2xHD. They are doing a rather complicated audiophile voodoo treatment of a small catalogue of recordings. Other excellent examples of albums from them I own are remasters of the outstanding Brahms violin sonata and trio recordings with the Tetzlaffs which I’ve yet to review on this blog, as well several excellent Bill Evans albums.

I’ll leave it to the audiophile nerds to describe the impact of the 2xHD treatment, suffice it to say that the 2xHD version sounds a bit “smoother”, more “analog”, and somewhat warmer, without loosing detail, compared to the regular remaster. Your choice if you care about these nuances or not

But enough audiophile mumbo jumbo, what about the music, you ask?

Well, it’s a really interest setup, we’re talking about a traditional piano trio, with Paul Berner on bass and Duffy Jackson on drums, but we get the addition of a percussionist here, the excellent Robert Thomas, Jr.

Alexander is originally from Jamaica, and adding a percussionist really adds something very special here, setting it apart from regular trio sessions.

First of all, to quote Duke Ellington, It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing, nothing to worry about here, there’s plenty of swing, if you can listen to this without tapping your foot to the fast numbers, you must be deaf.

But on top of that you get outstanding latin jazz numbers, such as Samba di Orfeu, or Fungi Mama where Robert Thomas, Jr. really shines, and you get a really interesting example of Jazz/Reggae fusion with Reggae Later. The only thing you won’t find on this album is intimate ballads, but well, we’ve got plenty of Bill Evans albums for that already

Overall, this is a truly enjoyable and somewhat special live gig, that you’ll particularly appreciate if you have decent playback equipment, but will get your foot tapping even if played over a $50 bluetooth boombox.

My rating: 5 stars

You can find the recording with the 2xHD voodoo in formats all the way up to DXD here (NativeDSD), or you can go to the regular high-res version here (Qobuz)

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