Today, a list of small items and updates. First, Alan Gilbert's recordings with the New York Philharmonic of Nielsen's Second and Third symphonies for the Ondine label, discussed recently in this column and arguably the finest since Bernstein's 1960s version, have now been made available for downloading by the eclassical.com website as 24bit/192kHZ FLAC files. At 2.4GB the programme is a hefty download, but as you listen, every one of those bytes seems to be audible in a form of recorded sound that approaches the ideal. You hear everything, but without any hint of the chilly digital X-ray effect.
Another outstanding performance that gains from recording technology that does it justice is the Naxos Blu-ray release of Mahler's Eighth Symphony performed by Antoni Wit conducting the Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, and Warsaw Boys Choir and an octet of vocal soloists. When Wit's account was released on CD a few years ago it surprised many listeners not only with its excellent recorded sound, but also with the quality of the performance, which yields nothing to famous interpretations by Mahler specialists like Tennstedt, Bernstein, Horenstein, and Abbado (although for some of us, Solti's recording would be the one that would go with us to the space station). Here, sensitive engineering and high-definition recording allow us to hear almost everything.
As part of this year's Olympics-related activities in the UK, there has been a parallel "Cultural Olympiad" that has enriched the country's artistic scene in remarkable ways. One of the most fertile of them has been the New Music 20 x 12 project funded by BBC3, NMC Recordings, and a long list of other sponsors.
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