Thomas ADÈS: string quartets, piano quintet, DoelenKwartet of Rotterdam, Dimitri Vassilakis, pianist / Cybele 5.1 SACD with binaural tracks for headphone listening cat. # 261603 / TT: 58:10 (10/20/17) ****:
This is a fine recording and performance of the music of Thomas Adès, born in 1971. The composer studied piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as well as composition and musicology at King’s College in Cambridge.
A composer of diverse genre, Adès has written orchestral pieces, chamber music, choral music, and operas. His chamber opera Powder Her Face (1995) was performed worldwide, while The Tempest (2004) was performed in London first, then other venues.
Adès appears as conductor regularly with orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra , the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the symphony orchestras in Melbourne and Sydney, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra . He is the artistic partner of the Boston Symphony Orchestra , which will culminate in the world premiere of a new piano concerto for Kirill Gerstein in 2019.
The CD reviewed here contains multiple interesting works by the composer, including Arcadiana op 12 for String Quartet, The Piano Quintet for Piano and String Orchestra, and finally The 4 Quarters op. 28 for String Quartet.
These are contemporary works, challenging and dissonant, but they all provide an exciting listen. The music is compelling, and as usual, the Cybele label does a stand out recording job, offering the buyer of this disc multiple ways to listen. There is a standard CD layer, a 5.1 surround layer (which is what I spent the most time auditioning, and finally a stereo binaural track for headphone enthusiasts, a growing and thriving group among audiophiles.
The sound on this disc, especially the 5.1 tracks, is superb. Musicians are up front while the rear channels provide ambiance. I also listened to the binaural tracks on my HiFiMan planar headphones, and that was a treat as well. My own room acoustics were gone, and I heard the Cybele recording studio where the disc was mastered. Although I’m not a regular listener to binaural performances (largely because of limited offerings), I think most of our readers would be thrilled with the sound of this music on a pair of good quality headphones.