BACH, BERLIOZ, CHOPIN and others [TrackList Follows] – various artists – Linn Super Audio Collection Vol. 7 multichannel SACD Linn 459, 71:00 [7/8/14] (Distr. by Naxos) ****:

Linn is known for two things. Very high end audio components and a superb catalog of fine recording, mostly classical and some jazz. For some years, Linn has been issuing sampler CDs which are basically teasers for the full recordings.

I’ve just listened to volume 7, which features 18 tracks drawn from the Linn catalog. This is a demo disc in the sense you get an idea what Linn offers, and you do get an excellent window into the company’s recording philosophy, which is natural with a capital N. I don’t think people will find this a demo disc to wow your friends the way a Telarc CD used to. The dynamic range is not out-sized. No cannons, no super-extended highs or chest-crushing bass. What we have are excellent and well thought-out recordings that sound real, and will bring out the best in your system. No large orchestral forces. Just small to midsize ensembles with the best sound that modern recording techniques can render.

There are Bach, Berlioz, Corelli, Mozart, Brahms and more. There are also four jazz selections. I’m not sure this is a recording to put on and have as background music, as the program is so varied, especially mixing jazz with classical. Where I find it valuable is giving my ears a sense of the sound of real musicians in a 3D space. In a world of often over-processed and over-hyped sound, the Linn sampler is ever so appropriate to just sit back and listen to.

One of the most engaging works on the disc is the Rouse Flute Concerto Scherzo by Katherine Bryan, Jac van Steen played by the Royal National Orchestra. It is a ‘bigger’ work, and the quality of the recording serves it well.

Without exception, the SACD sound is very good and extended. On my system the CD layer is just ever so slightly constricted, but that could be a matter of expectations rather than frequency response. It is a subtle difference.

The tracks are mostly available from Linn online as high-res downloads, SACD discs, or CDs without the high resolution layer. You won’t be disappointed in the recording or the performances if what you are seeking is realism. These samplers are popular for a reason. Listen and you will hear why.

Track List:

1. J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046: I. […] by Dunedin Consort
2. Berlioz: Les nuits d’été, Op. 7: I. Villanelle by Karen Cargill, Robin Ticciati, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
3. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21: III. Allegro vivace by Ingrid Fliter, Jun Märkl, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
4. Mozart: Requiem in D Minor, K. 626: IX. Domine Jesu by Dunedin Consort
5. Corelli: Sonata in D Minor, Op.5 No. 7: III. Sarabanda – Largo by The Avison Ensemble
6. Haydn: La vera costanza, Hob. 28/8: Già la morte in mante nero by William Berger, Nicholas McGegan, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
7. Brahms: 7 Fantasien, Op. 116 No. 2: Intermezzo in A Minor by Sivan Magen
8. Berlioz: L’enfance du Christ: Partie II, La fuite en Égypte – L’adieu des bergers by Robin Ticciati, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra & Choir
9. J.S. Bach: Johannes Passion, BWV 245: Aria. Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten by Dunedin Consort
10. Anon: Les Gentils Airs – ou Airs Connus, ajustèe en duo, pour bassoon seul accompagné d’un clavecin: Les Sauvages by Peter Whelan, Ensemble Marsyas
11. Rossi: Pargoletta, che non sai by Profeti della Quinta
12. Lawes: Set a5 in g: II. On the Playnsong – a5 by Phantasm
13. Parsons: Ave Maria by Magnificat
14. Rouse: Flute Concerto: IV. Scherzo by Katherine Bryan, Jac van Steen, Royal National Orchestra
15. MacLean: Holding Back by Dougie MacLean, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
16. Duncan: Your Very Soul by Amy Duncan
17. Berlin: What’ll I Do? by Claire Martin, Richard Rodney Bennett
18. Barker: Sleeping Horses by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo

—Mel Martin