Bruckner’s unfinished final symphony is well represented in the catalogue. The three magnificent movements are completely different and offer a satisfying conclusion to Bruckner’s incredible symphonic canon.

Some conductors tried to finish the unfinished symphony by adding the composer’s Te Deum, complete with voices. I never bothered with it. I did bother with Sir Simon Rattle’s new ‘completed’ version with his Berlin Philharmonic. I was impressed with the finale movement as a whole, but it did nothing to finish what I consider the unfinishable. Basically, detailed Bruckner notes finished by musicologists.

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Jack Stokes enjoys writing about the finer points of speakers and will never pass up the chance to debate the merits of different designs. Having grown up in apartments, he could never enjoy his music without his neighbours complaining and had to move to the country in order enjoy it the way he likes it most: loud.

The Basics:

The method of producing true sound has been debated since the genesis of hi-fi speakers. Each company and party claims to have the best combination of materials and technology for producing the most accurate representation of the music. However, both sides do have their merits and downsides. In order to establish a baseline of terms and concepts, I want to address the basic terms and ideas behind full-range and crossover speakers.

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bobbrahms

Robert Silverman, in a wonderful Indian Summer of recording, continues to release gem after gem on CD. This new CD of two seminal works for solo piano is even better, in fact it’s a treasure.

Longtime readers of Audiophilia will know that I’m an admirer of Silverman’s playing style. He has chops galore, earned the hard way. He’s also an incredibly musical person. This musicality expresses itself the purest in music of the great German Romantics — Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms.

The new Orpheum Masters disc contains Schumann’s 12 Études Symphoniques, Op. 13 (in the 1837 1st edition) and one of my favourite classical works for any instrument, 25 Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Op. 24 by Brahms. A nice addition to the CD is an early version of the Schumann work — the theme and five posthumous variations (published in 1890).

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For the last several years my reference amplifiers have been the Hephaestus HMA 1000 mono-blocks (now simply called the Hephaestus — see my review August 2010) and have performed absolutely flawlessly. I am always chagrined at the looks of incredulity on many an audiophiles’ face after listening to these audio giant killers. How can these diminutive Class D amplifiers sound so good?

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lso

The multi talented Gareth Davies is the superb Principal Flute of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). He’s also a very good writer. His very entertaining and informative book, The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012, is the result of a fortuitous convergence. Davies writes a blog for the LSO website when the band is on tour. His blog, and the recent discovery of detailed diaries written by a few of the members of the 1912 LSO were the inspiration for the book.

The diaries detail the 1912 American tour, a first by an English orchestra. As such, Davies’ book is a tale of two traveling bands, the LSO of 1912 and the LSO of today.

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Mozart — ‘Gran Partita’ Serenade K361 [57:18]
Stuttgart Winds
Tacet 209 (2013)

In early 1780s Vienna, the wind serenade pretty much fulfilled the function that Michael Bublé does today; undemanding entertainment music for would-be sophisticates! Mozart had already written them while in Salzburg – offering strange alternatives to the traditional scoring for pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons – and continued to push the boundaries in his newly-adopted city. His final statement in the genre is oversized in every respect; scored for pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and basset horns, plus four horns and a double bass, its seven movements run for close to 50 minutes. Here, as with many of his other works, Mozart understood that a mixed audience was likely and constructed it in such a way that its tunes give simple pleasure to everyone, while those who listen deeper will find a world of invention and ingenuity simmering beneath.

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Not the most pleasant of subjects, but one that needs a little perspective.

‘THE REPORTS OF MY DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED’

ORIGIN

Mark Twain quotation after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.

Replace ‘my’ with ‘high end audio’. So much doom and gloom about it, and the numbers just don’t add up. Also, I’ve been reading about its death for 25 years! People said the same about orchestras, the movie theatre, and on and on. In the here and now, I can buy quality turntables from almost 100 companies. Esoteric, single ended tube amps from Europe, North America and Asia. If so inclined, I can order cables costing a mortgage payment from all over the world. And, I can read about audio at hundreds of websites, most amateur but many professional outfits.

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Swanky Boston menswear store, Ball and Buck wanted to create an audio subsidiary with just a few American made products. They approached SOTA Turntables, Bottlehead Tube Amplifiers and Blumenstein Loudspeakers, and Ball and Buck Home Audio was born.

Ball and Buck owner Mark Bollman requested the equipment be finished in wood (available in natural or caramelized bamboo). Bollman says ‘It goes along with that whole philosophy around vinyl music and the warm, true sound of the original composition. It’s a natural sound, so it’s a natural finish on the product.’

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