Regeneration = STEPHEN LYMAN: Prelude; 3 Sketches caracteristiques; Regeneration suite; 2 Etudes; Solitaire; Winter has come early; TAKEMITSU: All in Twilight; BARTOK: 3 selections from 44 Duets for 2 violins – Stephen Lyman, guitar – IsoMike multichannel SACD (4.0) (www.isomike.com), 45:40 **1/2:
I have no idea who Stephen Lyman is, nor do the sparse notes help much. Even Googling didn’t help—there’s just not much there. He does have a fine technique and seems to have mastered every inch of the program here presented.
This is also one of the finest SACD recordings I have heard, IsoMike’s four baffled microphones picking up every inch of the guitarist’s fingers hitting the fingerboard, and capturing the sound brilliantly. In fact, they suggest turning the volume up some because it was all recorded at a low level, yet being careful to monitor it as the dynamic range is so extreme and natural that sudden jumps might inflict harm to the speakers. Natural it is, one of the most natural I have heard, but the rest is pure hyperbole, this recording no lower than many others, and the dynamic range is actually restricted for the most part. This is after all a guitar and not an electric one, so one would not expect an out-of-bounds variance in sound.
The disc is too short—there is room for a lot more music beyond the full LP-length we get here. The Takemitsu is well-played, as are the short Bartok Duos. Lyman’s own music is somewhat of a mixed bag—much of it sounds just like the Takemitsu with more of a jazz or at least jazz-harmony feel to it. Most of it is not particularly memorable, with the exception of Solitaire and the Two Etudes—the latter especially an example of what Lyman is capable of, at least in spurts. Again, the notes are incompetent in describing the composer’s intentions in his own music, which greatly lowers the production value of the disc.
Audiophiles interested in the sound above all will enjoy hearing what IsoMike can do with their recording process. (Especially the very low noise floor…Ed.) For music alone there are many better guitar discs to try before getting to this one.
— Steven Ritter