No. 108 May 2013
- REVIEW FROM OUR COVER: Kuzma STABI XL + Kuzma 4POINT + Benz Micro Switzerland RUBY Z - turntable + tonearm + cartridge from Slovenia and Switzerland
- REVIEW: REED 3P – tonearm from Lithuania
- REVIEW: Ayre AX-5 - integrated amplifier from USA
- REVIEW: Linear Audio Research IA-30T mk2 - integrated amplifier from Poland
- REVIEW: NuForce DDA-100 + Amphion Ion+ - amplifier integrated/DAC + bookshelf loudspeakers from USA and Finland
- REVIEW: Octave V 110 - integrated amplifier from Germany
- REVIEW: Audiomatus TP-01 - linear preamplifier from Poland
CONVERSATIONS XIV: NOT ONLY THE MUSIC
Misteria Paschalia 2013
[…] I can say that Misteria Paschalia is among the most daring, bravest and professionally organised musical enterprises in Europe. Kraków is almost the only place where I’ve got the chance to present a whole series of original and unique projects, far away from the alienating strategies of the world music market, in the atmosphere of exploration and constant discovery – and that is, for me, the most important thing about our repertoire.
Although it might seem that courtesy dictated these words, the moment’s need, or the need for creating a diploma for the 10-year anniversary of the Kraków-based festival, all the unanimously positive – sometimes nearly ecstatic – opinions of other performers, conductors, and music critics from around the world, require us to take these words literally. Placed in the newest, wonderfully prepared (as always) program of the Misteria Paschalia festival, they harmonize with what Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennet, Giovanni Antonini, and Claudio Cavina say. Because this really is a period cut out of the flow of time, suspended in the Passion Week on the highest level of performance and organization. Even if we don’t agree with everything contained within the program booklet, if we’d rate some events or artists differently, if some comparisons, such as calling Julia Leżniewa the “second Callas” aren’t – in our opinion! – entirely accurate, all of this can be discussed and be the basis of agreeing on some points of contact without getting too far away from each other.
This year’s festival is special not only because it again gathers an elite of historically-performed early music, but for the reason we’ve already mentioned – we’re celebrating its 10th anniversary. That’s why the inaugural concert of Haendel’s oratorium Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (HWV 46a) began the internal accent, so to speak. The event leader, Izabela Helbin – the director of the Krakow Festival Bureau, and Łukasz Modelski – the vice editor-in-chief of “Twój Styl”, privately a fan of the festival – gave special prizes to the people who make the festival what it is – Złote Słuchacze (Gold Listeners). A surprising, yet – when you think about it – perfect present for music lovers: gold editions of headphones (unfortunately I didn’t notice what brand they were) on great-looking stands. You can complain about the fact that the “givers” were also the “receivers”, because the prizes were given to representatives of institutions, companies and organisations which support the festival from its first edition, e.g. the director of the Krakow power plant (strategic partner), the directors of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which holds one of the concerts every year, the directors of Radio Channel 2, which has broadcasted and recorded all of the concerts from the very start, and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, which has generously sponsored the festival from its roots. On the other hand, the festival would not exist without these people, certainly not on this scale, because events this size need money, media support, the hard work of many people and passion. That’s why these “presents” must exist; and it’s a good thing.
I write this after the first concert, the aforementioned Haendel. I won’t make a fool of myself analysing it, I’m not a musicologist. However, I feel inclined to jot down a few observations, regarding not only the concert but the event as a whole.
And the Europa Galante sounded fantastic at the previous, 9th edition of Misteria Paschalia. When speaking to Andrzej, who I listen to some stuff together at Janusz’s place during the meetings of the Krakow Sonic Society, we agreed that this might’ve been because the musicians played upright. Il Giardino Armonico were seated. The difference in clarity, selectiveness and sonority was visibly better in last year’s performance. Perhaps this would be a way out?
Dear Mr. Wojtek!
Through our popular-scientific work, mentioning many socio-cultural topics on our website, we will try to express our objection to any and all kitschiness expressing itself in the arts, and in the wide spectrum of culture. We’ll brand the expression of morally-devoid decisions made by creators, who try their hardest to become the next big thing on a market sucked dry of the rules of ethics. We’ll try following up our critique with a lot of examples for improvement, whenever possible. We hope that our articles will be interesting and intriguing enough to positively impact the readers, perhaps opening their eyes to topics and things previously unnoticed. Through encouraging the readers to send letters and pictures we can positively influence their critical perception of problems or their immediate surroundings. This can be the reason for the heightening of their social sensitivity, and thus their aesthetical sensitivity, too.
We believe that only these “grassroots” activities, addressing every person directly as a component of society, can bring a socially positive effect in fighting the deepening crisis in whatever falls under the broad conundrums of culture and the arts.
“High Fidelity in “Positive Feedback OnLine” and “Stereophile” (sort of)
Since we try to show the places where “High Fidelity” makes an appearance, we’d like to mention two places where the name of our magazine has appeared recently. “Positive Feedback Online” is the first of them. David Robinson, the editor-in-chief, whom we interviewed a month earlier, spoke pleasantly about our conversation, encouraging everyone to read HF. You can read about it HERE. We talk about different things, including potential cooperation between our magazines. We don’t know what will come out of all of this, what this cooperation would look like, and that’s why you should just patiently wait for the situation to unfold. The second magazine in which the “High Fidelity” logo has appeared is “Stereophile”. More accurately, it “sort of” appeared there – on an advertisement of an AMG gramophone. A month earlier in “The Absolute Sound”, and now in “Stereophile”, the logo of the Statement Award appeared next to the awards of TAS and “TONEAudio” magazines. It’s really something! It’s probably the first time that this American distributor decided to use a Polish award to promote his product in such an important magazine.
The heart of my music is the genuine sound of resonator guitars. I just love the mechanically amplified sound... Bottleneck John
And it’s all clear. Bottleneck John performs blues music, accompanying himself on the guitar – one of many resonator guitars collected by him, in fact (see HERE). The album All Around Man is a melancholic perspective of the world, beautiful melodies, interesting harmonies. The musician is kept company by friends on more classical instruments, meaning it is not a one-dimensional album. It’s very pleasant to listen to, which I can easily say despite not being a big blues fan
Sound quality: 9-10/10
Though we usually review new and newest albums, I decided to make an exception in the case of Lisa Ekdahl’s album – I simply missed it, and this way I wanted to make up for falling behind. This Swedish singer with the voice of a child, who usually performs jazz tracks, but not only, is a phenomenon. The songs she sings gain a completely new meaning than when someone else performs them – they’re more delicate, emotionally deeper, more sensitive. Heard once, she remains “under the skin” forever, if you like her. Her best album is Back To Earth (BMG Sweden AB, 14632), released in 1998. This concert at the Parisian Olympia is, however, a great supplement to her discography. It’s a must for all fans – and a great introduction for those who still haven’t become acquainted with her. I highly recommend it!
Sound quality: 7-8/10
Best Of Bond… James Bond. 50 Years – 50 Tracks
We’re dealing with an album containing the opening theme songs for James Bond movies here – enough said. These recordings, spanning from 1963-2008, beginning with the main theme, played by The John Barry Orchestra, all the way to Another Way To Die performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys (a fantastic song!), differ in recording quality and value. They are surprisingly nice to listen to, though, especially if we’re fans of the charming, cynical, gentlemanly, auto-ironic and human (depending on the actor portraying him) Agent 007. Adele’s recording, one of the best in the history of Bond movies, is missing, as the album had been released before the single with Skyfall was released. In addition to the 23 songs, the second CD contains instrumental tracks from the movies. They’re boring, but they’re part of the title 50 Years – 50 Tracks.
Sound quality: 6-8/10
Who are we?"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published monthly since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.
Our reviewers publish in audio magazines: „Audio”, „6moons.com”, „Enjoy the Music.com” and „Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska”.
"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years we have been publishing material both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.
Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one, chosen audio review - this unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland - held in November of each year.
For years "High Fidelity" has been cooperating with other magazines, of which the most important partner is the American "6moons.com" magazine. Each month, "6moons.com" publishes reviews from "High Fidelity", after their premiere in the English section of our magazine.
Srajan Ebaen, the chief editor of "6moons.com", decided to put Wojciech Pacuła on his staff list of reviewers. You can also find there a bio of "High Fidelity" chief editor (HERE).
If you would like to contact one of our contributors, choose appropriate email address on our CONTACT page.