THE SPIRIT OF GAMBO
"THE GALAXY RECORDINGS"
Composers: Johan Schenk; Christiaen Herwich; Philippus Harcquart
Performers: Freek Borstlap; Ivanka Neetelman; Haru Kitamika; Judith Freise
Stockfish SFR 357.4042.2
1. Johan Schenk: Suite G major (Scherzi Musicali)
2. Christiaen Herwich: Eerste Stuck "voor de fiool de Gamba"
3. Johan Schenk: Sonata VI (Le Nymphe di Rheno)
4. Christiaen Herwich: Tweede Stuck "voor de fiool de Gamba"
5. Johan Schenk: Sonata III (L'Echo du Danube)
6. Christiaen Herwich: Derde Stuck "voor de fiool de Gamba"
7. Philippus Hacquart: Suite (D major)
The disc The Galaxy Recordings is composed of the compositions of three Dutch authors: Johan Schenk, Christiaen Herwich and Philippus Harcquart - specialist of the viola da gamba. The first one was born and baptized in the catholic church Mozes and Aaron in Amsterdam. His name was quickly associated with the viola da gamba, but he could not find work in the Dutch court. 34 years old, he was engaged to the Court Orchestra in Düsseldorf, which was under protection of the Prince Johan Wilhelm II. Philippus Harcquart was born in the year 1645, probably in the vicinity of Brugge. He was the younger brother of the known composer Carolus Harcquart. He died in 1691. In contrast to his older brother, nothing is known about his musical education. Four suites for the viola da gamba solo, which are represented on the disc by the suite D-major, is the only remained heritage of Philippus.
The disc was recorded by four musicians. Freek Borstlap is one of the most important Dutch gambists and is a pupil from the "Hague" school of Wieland Kuijken. He is the artistic leader of the ensemble he created - The Spirit of GAMBO, a group focused on playing music from XVI and beginning of XVII century. Besides that, he performs as a baritone in the ensemble Nederlands Baryton Trio and Combattimento Consort Amsterdam. The second viola da gamba on the disc appears through Ivanka Neelman, also a disciple of Wieland Kuijken - in the Koninklijk Academy of Music in Brussels. The violinist Judith Freise is a freelance from Frankfurt am Main. She is a permanent concertmaster of the Baroque Orchestra Frankfurt and a member of German-Dutch ensemble La Fantasia. Haru Kitamika studied harpsichord in the class of Masaaki Suzuki in the National University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokio. After finishing the studies she won a contest and received a scholarship, that allowed her to finish postgraduate studies in the class of Patrick Ayrton in the Koninlijk Conservatorium in Brussels.
The recording was made in the unusual concert hall Galaxy, in Mol, Belgium. The whole construction was placed on steel springs, what makes the floor resonance 3Hz and the outside noise is minimal - damped by 100dB. Different than usual with SACD discs, this disc was prepared thinking about all three possible configurations: stereo SACD, multichannel (5.0) SACD and stereo CD. The main microphones were the Neumann TLM 50, the reverb was captured by two Sennheiser MKH 800. All microphones were hooked up to the console with silver cables, as short as possible. The eight channel Grace 808 was used as microphone preamplifier. Until this point everything is common. Next the signal is split - to create the CD layer an eight channel, 24bit A/D converter Meitner EMM Labs ADC8 MkIV was used. The conversion to DSD was done on a 1bit converter AX24 Digital Audio Denmark. For the stereo SACD only the signal from the main microphones, without any processing. To the multichannel version the signal from the surround microphones was added. To the control listenings B&W Nautilus 801D speakers were used. Regardless of the equipment used for recording, where the recording was made, in effect superb, full, saturated sound was achieved. Phenomenal was the presentation of the intimate character of the viola da gamba, with low timbre, deep body, and similar. The instruments are presented from far, but due to their slightly warm character, they are touchable and believable. The harpsichord is slightly "pulled", it sounds quite strong. It can be forgiven, because in general the timbre is open and coherent. The instruments, as I mentioned, are heard from a certain distance, in natural environment, although their timbre, just like the reverberation timbre is a bit boosted, a bit warm. The same I heard earlier from the disc of Sara K. for the same publisher, so maybe this is the "company" sound of Stockfish.
Sound quality: 9/10
"HELL OR HIGH WATER"
Stockfish SFR 357.5039.2
2. Trouble (in your eyes)
3. Curtain Calls
4. Fish Outta Water
5. Something More
6. Hell or High Water
7. I Can't Stand the Rain
8. Set You Free
9. Streetlight's On
10. Ship in a Bottle
It does not happen often, that a non-Japanese company is issuing discs in the XRCD format (owned by JVC), maybe with the exception of the Swedish Proprius. Sara K. is most probably a name that enabled the mastering and pressing of the disc as XRCD24 (K2 Technology) in the Mastering Center of the Victor Company. As usual the chief of the mastering was Tohru Kotetsu z JVC, and the consultant Takeshi "Tee" Fujii from Three Blind Mice.
The XRCD technology almost always gives superior sound. Probably a part of this success is the thorough selection of the master tapes, and the worse ones do not come through the selection. The case of Sara K. is different, as this is a new recording, made for a few platforms (LP, SACD. CD, XRCD), for each one on a different recorder. Anyway, the XRCD process gives a kind of "company" sound, if this can be said about good sound - with a very good resolution, and though a bit warm, when compared to a standard CD edition. That is also the case here - Sara's voice is presented near, in a suggestive way. Her guitar was very natural and touchable. In general the sound has a large volume, are a bit close and will be perceived best on stand mount speakers, as those will sound like floorstanders, or on large speakers in a large room. Large speakers in small rooms, like mine, will present the events closer than we would like it to be. Their presence here and now is fantastic - it is heard from the beginning, that this is a good recording and a good pressing. The sound stage is big and expansive. When "Curtain Calls" sounds, then between the speakers, far, far away a large room sounds - such a suggestive space is not found on many discs. The only thing that will split the listeners is the way the bass is presented. As on all Stockfish discs it is big and full, but - like it is for me - it is a bit enlarged and not fully controlled in the lowest registers. .
Sound quality: 10/10
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