Welcome to the HiFi Starters Club March 23 playlist. This month we’ve got a combination of the familiar and not-so-familiar. An audiophile stalwart and a classic track from 1979. Two classical piano pieces. Sitting alongside two simpler folk/jazzy numbers that are just lovely (we’ll up the pace next month!)
As always the playlist is available on Spotify here. And this month sees the start of both Tidal and Qobuz versions for those of you streaming losslessly (sod’s law says the Qobuz one is missing the Ange Hardy track).
1. “Bach’s Partita #1” played by Maria Joao Pires
A personal favourite this one, definitely on my list of Desert Island Discs, possibly the one I’d save if forced to choose. Pires’ playing is sublime – she has a beautifully delicate touch. The recording is top-drawer too; very immediate (don’t spare the volume). As for the music, this is Bach at his very best.
2. “Give Life Back To Music” by Daft Punk from Random Access Memories
A stalwart of the audiophile world, oft heard at shows. That doesn’t diminish the music’s standing though, it bears repeated listening. And the recording is a good one; excellent bass, good dynamics. Basically it’s a good all-round test of your systems abilities.
3. “Street Life” by The Crusaders from Street Life
Another stalwart. And the track that introduced the world to the voice (and smile) of Randy Crawford. That it still sounds fresh 44 years after release is testament to the music. That it can still stretch a system’s ability to resolve detail says much about the recording too.
4. “Schubert’s Piano Sonata 20 1.Allegro” played by Krystian Zimerman from Schubert: Piano Sonatas D959 & 960
There are many excellent versions of Schubert’s famous piano sonata to choose from. None that I know of are as dynamic as Zimerman’s though; to say he makes the piece his own is an understatement. Helped by the use of a custom keyboard that struck the strings in a different position to normal. Zimerman also takes the instrument by the scruff of the neck in a performance that is unique. Not to everyone’s tastes musically; it’s certainly different. To me the piece sings in his hands though.
5. “By The Tides” by Ange Hardy & Lukas Drinkwater from Findings
After the rollercoaster of Krystian Zimerman comes something altogether more serene. Even if the subject matter – immigrant suffering – is an emotional sink hole. Ange Hardy herself is no stranger to hardship, her back story makes for difficult reading (particularly if you read between the lines). Music was her saviour. It’s now the outlet for her experiences and emotions, feeding off her pathos. Don’t let the beautiful harmonies with Lukas Drinkwater on ‘By The Tides’ fool you, this is strong stuff. Well recorded too.
6. “Yes, But No…..” by Randi Tytinvag from Roots & Wings
I don’t know how you pronounce her name. I do know this Norwegian jazz/folkie with the quasi-Bjork looks has the purest of voices. The music is simple in form but exquisitely executed; her trio performs with an assurance borne of playing together extensively. This is probably the stand out track from Roots & Wings but do explore the rest of the album. Indeed, free up an hour to sample her other catalogue. I did, she’s now a firm fixture in my library.