Friday, March 7, 2014

Three New Discs from Katzenberger Music Productions

An interesting package from Germany landed in my mailbox yesterday. (I'll date myself by saying that I kept telling everyone it was from West Germany. I don't know why.) Katzenberger Music Productions, which released three new digital recordings late last year in Germany, is set for a launch in the US at the end of this month. These first three recordings, titled 01, 02 and 03, are presented in the opulent hardcover booklets you see in the photos. The packaging is gorgeous, right down to the rubbery pucks that hold the discs in place (no more broken bits of clear plastic!), and the little booklets themselves contain pages and pages of liner notes and photographs. In other words, this is a first class production in every way.

I'll review each of these three titles separately in the near future, but after listening to each one I can say that the sound quality is absolutely state-of-the-art, and the performances are very, very lovely. The first CD features mezzo-soprano Barbara Hofling backed up by pianist Grainne Dunne. The second CD--my favorite so far--features Anne-Sophie Bertrand on harp. The final CD is a collective of four musicians--Heinrich von Kalnein, Sebastian Gille, Henning Sieverts and Jonas Burgwinkel--playing a very loose, very un-German set of improvisations that are primarily jazz yet meld into blues and even classical. The level of detail in this final disc is nothing short of breathtaking.

What's even more interesting is the varying choices of digital format offered with each disc. 01 and 02 are offered in CD/SACD hybrid formats, while 03 includes both a hybrid disc and a Blu-ray audio disc--presumably to take advantage of the surround sound technologies used in that particular recording. Each of the titles are 192 kHz, 24 bit recordings that have those silky, effortless high frequencies that only hi-rez digital possesses. I can't wait to spend more time with each of these discs--so far they're winners.

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