Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ensemble HD Live At The Happy Dog 2013

What a great LP. What a great story.

Five members of the Cleveland Orchestra plus pianist Christina Dahl, director of chamber music at SUNY Stony Brook in New York, play chamber music at a not-at-all-fancy pub on Cleveland's near west side. The programs draw standing-room crowds from the first night with little more than word-of-mouth notice. Joshua Smith, principle flautist with the orchestra, and Sean Watterson, Happy Dog owner, decide to record the ensemble live in said little bar.

They hire Thomas Knab, former recording engineer with Telarc, who uses a minimal number of vintage analog microphones to record the ensemble in this unusual space, and they release it on pristine heavy-weight vinyl (also available as high-resolution download). The sound of the record is immediate and beautiful.

I'm far from an expert on chamber music, but there are many reviews out there. Some of the arrangements are truncated, and this seems to annoy a few purist reviewers, but mostly the reviews are quite complementary. The repertoire is a mix of chamber music from Beethoven to Arvo Part with quite a bit of twentieth century material. There is some challenging music and some sublime.

I'm a fan of the orchestra, and a firm believer that classical music should do whatever it takes to spark the imagination of a newer, younger audience. If you'd like to hear just what that might sound like from some of the best musicians in the world, here's your chance. The record is available from Bandcamp.

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