From RMAF Central — It’s become the largest consumer audio and home entertainment show in the nation - a virtual audio wonderland. Denver’s own Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, founded 12 years ago by two small local audio companies, now showcases more than 400 brands - from the affordable, to the absurd; from high-end specialty companies to Industry giants. The annual event draws vendors and audio enthusiasts from around the globe.

Amazingly, in 2010 during this wonderfully challenging economic environment, an additional floor of exhibitors was added, showcasing even more international and domestic manufacturers. In reaction to the current economy, the show also features an increase in the number of “affordable” audio components. Furniture is removed from over 170 of the hotel’s sleeping rooms and manufacturers will set up complete stereo systems for attendees to audition.

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor

Philharmonia Orchestra / Christoph von Dohnányi
Recorded live at the 2014 Salzburg Festival
Released Aug 28, 2015

Signum Classics SIGCD431 [61:38]

To celebrate Bruckner’s birthday today (1824), I offer a brief review of the new Signum Classics release of his monumental 9th Symphony recorded live at the 2014 Salzburg Festival by London’s great Philharmonia Orchestra and the orchestra’s Honorary Conductor for Life, Christoph von Dohnányi.

I’m a great admirer of Dohnányi’s conducting, Bruckner in particular. His interpretations always emphasize the beauty but at tempos that keep the musical arguments moving. So many conductors confuse gravitas with lack of momentum. Dohnányi gives you weight and propulsion. And here with the Philharmonia on its very best form (the days of Walter Legge, Karajan and Klemperer).

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Finally, it was my turn. As publisher of Audiophilia, one of my roles is not to be selfish, as most audiophiles assuredly are. Mark Jenkins of New Zealand’s Antipodes Audio had offered his cables for review some years ago. Our writers began with the Komako cables and were mightily impressed. Jenkins took some time off from cables to produce his incredible music servers. After time off for good behaviour, he returned to cables and to up the ante to Reference status.

Of course, my colleagues pushed and shoved (in the most polite way) to hear them first. How could I refuse? Trust me, I thought about ways.

More raves.

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My hometown of Toronto has a large Canadian Chinese population with its own daily newspapers, schools, and one of the largest Chinatown’s in the world. As such, any Chinese cultural group on tour makes Toronto an important stop.

I’ve noticed a full symphony orchestra for the past few years on tour here and getting raves for its performances of western and Chinese music. A cross pollination of musical styles is always difficult, especially when the harmony and melodies are so different from one another. Yet, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra continues to garner enthusiastic notices wherever it performs.

The Shen Yun site describes itself as …’accentuating the beauty of ancient Chinese instruments amidst the grandeur of a Western symphony, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra draws on cherished ancient melodies and delightful musical styles to create a brand new, yet wonderfully familiar, experience. Part of Shen Yun Performing Arts, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is rooted in 5,000 years of civilization. It shares in Shen Yun’s mission to revive five millennia of divinely inspired culture.’

If this sounds like something you’d like to experience (and their videos suggest a spectacular experience), the Shen Yun website has details on all the stops on the upcoming tour. Toronto gets first dibs on Sat October 3rd @ 1:30 at Roy Thomson Hall.


Charles Chaplin: Modern Times
Complete film score

NDR Radiophilharmonie / Timothy Brock

CPO 777 286-2 [75:49]

A friend and colleague, the late violinist James Richmond, once told me a lovely story from his days playing at the Savoy Hotel. One evening a note arrived with a bottle of Champagne asking if the musicians would like to join two gentlemen dining privately. The two gentlemen were Charles Chaplin and Pierre Monteux, who were good friends and enjoyed dining together. Richmond told me that they had a great evening during the course of which Chaplin quizzed him about violin technique and reminisced about his days in vaudeville at the turn of the 20th Century.

Chaplin was a keen left handed violinist who played with some skill even though he was mainly self taught. Richmond enjoyed telling me that he gave Chaplin a fiddle lesson and helped him with some background for the film Limelight which came out a year or so later.

The reason I tell this story is to illustrate that Chaplin was not just a great comic actor but also a keen musician who oversaw the music scores to many of his films. Although not formally able to compose the music, he realized his musical ideas through the help of the studio arrangers.

This recording of the 1935 film, which contained only a few lines of dialogue, amply shows what Chaplin was able to achieve. The NDR Radiophilharmonie under Timothy Brock realise the score with relish and a fine degree of style. A fascinating glimpse into a long lost world thankfully captured in wonderful sound.


Brahms and Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos

Boston Symphony / Monteux; Paris Conservatoire / Silvestri
Recorded: 1958-1959

Melodiya MEL CD 1002328 [75:50]

I first came across Kogan when I was a boy and I bought his Beethoven concerto with Silvestri and the Paris band on EMI. It was a fine recording which I still cherish. Now Melodiya have dusted off further recordings from the 1950s which confirm what a great player he was.

The Brahms was recorded live in Boston in 1958 and the audience can’t contain themselves with appreciation applauding each movement warmly. Don’t be put off, for the applause is justified and well worth the slight inconvenience.

The recording itself places Kogan forward of the orchestra and he keeps Monteux on his toes with searing tempos and little or no heed paid to the difficulty of the passage work.

The Tchaikovsky was possibly recorded in the Salle Wagram (I’m guessing by the very resonant acoustic) and is in stereo. This time the orchestra loses some detail in a rather roomy sound but Kogan gives a high voltage account that it well worth hearing.

He died aged fifty eight and the world lost one of the great violinists. It was a shame that in later life his ill health and Russian politics kept him away from the world. These live performances give us a good idea of his artistry.