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LP Reviews: Hilary Hahn, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles

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I’ve had some distractions the last few months from writing about audio and music. Those distractions include my real work, trying to get ready for an addition to the house, holidays and eye problems. Still, I want to try to get back in the saddle. So, I’m going to start by sharing with you a few recent LPs I have bought. There are others I will try to go back and get you caught up on, but for now, I’ll get started by sharing with you these wonderful LPs.



Hilary Hahn In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores 180g 2LP

Deutsche Grammophon 180g LP* (2LPs)
Digital Download Included
Made in the EU
Gatefold Jacket

Hilary Hahn, violin
Cory Smythe, piano


This is surely an interesting idea for an album! Hilary Hahn’s performance encores highlight contemporary, lesser-known composers. On her new album, The 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, there are works by 26 commissioned composers:Antón García Abril, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Lera Auerbach, Richard Barrett, Mason Bates, Tina Davidson, David Del Tredici, Avner Dorman, Du Yun, Søren Nils Eichberg, Christos Hatzis, Jennifer Higdon, James Newton Howard, Bun-Ching Lam, David Lang, Paul Moravec, Nico Muhly, Michiru Oshima, Kala Ramnath, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Max Richter, Somei Satoh, Elliott Sharp, Valentin Silvestrov, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Gillian Whitehead. Jeff Myers was chosen to be the final 27th composer.

I have always enjoyed Hahn’s albums, having discovered her during the time I was giving SACD a try. I thought the concept of this LP was great, so I ordered it and I couldn’t be more pleased with the music or the recording. Since the entire album consists of encores, it is a little different from sitting down and listening to an entire piece of work. Still, she does an admirable job of tying them pretty much together. The recording is beautiful and, overall, the vinyl is quiet and flat.

The most wonderful thing about this album is the beautiful way she and Cory Smythe play together. Some of the pieces are quite romantic, but most are more on the modern side. Likewise, some pieces are smooth and pretty while others are fast and powerful. I continue to really enjoy this LP and highly recommend it to all who love the violin and piano.




Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book

60th Anniversary Edition
Analogue Spark 180g Vinyl, 3LP Box Set
Pressed at RTI
Mastered From Original Mono Tapes
Mastered By Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound
Legendary 1956 recording spread across 3LP


I love to listen to Ella and I love Cole Porter’s songs so this purchase was a no-brainer for me. This is the 60th Anniversary audiophile reissue of these legendary performances, which were originally recorded by Norman Granz’s Verve Records label.

The year 1956 documented a great chapter in the history of jazz music: Norman Granz founded his third label, VERVE, managed to win Ella Fitzgerald back from DECCA and started the Songbook Series, which not only attracted a totally new listening public but also established Ella’s reputation as the First Lady of Song.

The Cole Porter Songbook marked the beginning for Ella and VERVE of a series that expanded to seven songbook recordings. The recording’s success was practically a foregone conclusion then as it is now for me. Ella and the bandleader and arranger, Buddy Bregman, finally decided upon what was, for them, the crème de la crème of Porter songs. The result was a list of 32 songs.

The recordings are simply beautiful, and the recordings show off what a mono recording is capable of doing sonically. If you like Ella or Porter this is a no-brainer; just pick up the phone or computer and order it.



Duke Ellington – The Duke At Tanglewood


Label: Classic Records (RCA Living Stereo)
200 Gram Vinyl Test Pressing


For a little over a year, I have been on a Duke Ellington kick. It just seems that when I thumb through my jazz LPs, his keep catching my eye and serenading my ears.

One day I was looking at his works and noticed I didn’t have this live recording, so I bought it. The one I bought was the test pressing, but who wants to look at a plain white cover, so I used the actual cover for the picture in this article. Acoustic Sounds still has a few test pressings of this recording and the regular pressing also; both are priced very reasonably.

The album starts with a powerful rendition of “Caravan.” It is powerful and energizing. I got the kind of emotional experience with this recording that I have become accustomed to with a really well recorded and performed live recording.

The next cut is the oh-so-soulful “Mood Indigo.”  I love this song and this is an incredible rendition of it. Again, those emotions from the concert seemed to just flow into the room with me. Another number that really moved me was “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me.” This LP is just one great emotional experience after another. Each time I’m through listening to this recording I feel excited about it, almost as much as if I had been there. If you don’t have a copy of this recording, get one.



Ray Charles/ The Atlantic Years In Mono

7 LP 180 gram vinyl Box Set

Rhino has given us a beautiful, new 180-gram, 50th Anniversary Vinyl Edition of an all-time classic from Atlantic Records. The box set is well done with all the great looking covers containing the original artwork. There is a very nice booklet, and the box itself is a very nice, cloth-covered offering.

Let me be honest with you: If you buy music more for the sound than the music, these may not be for you. The pressings are very good, but these recordings vary a lot from one to another and none of them show off the best that mono recordings have to offer.

Still, these 7 albums contain some incredible music. I was especially surprised by the two instrumental albums and by disc 7, The Genius Sings the Blues.

There are songs on these albums that I hadn’t heard in years, and they are great fun to listen to. I’m really glad to have this box set, and I’m sure I’ll listen to it often. If you are a Ray Charles fan, I recommend this collection for the incredible music it contains.


Copy editor: Dan Rubin
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One Response to LP Reviews: Hilary Hahn, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles

  1. transfers says:

    I think you are doing Ray Charles a disservice. The recording quality is better than that!

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