Rossini: String Sonatas 1-3, Hoffmeister: Solo Quartets 1 & 2 - Pensola, Tikkanen, Lehto, Groot

Rossini: String Sonatas 1-3, Hoffmeister: Solo Quartets 1 & 2 - Pensola, Tikkanen, Lehto, Groot

BIS  BIS-2317

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber

Rossini: String Sonatas 1-3
Hoffmeister: Solo Quartets 1 & 2

Minna Pensola (violin)
Antti Tikkanen (violin & viola)
Tuomas Lehto (cello)
Niedke Groot (double bass)

The works gathered here hail from two different sets of string quartets: the four so-called Solo Quartets by Franz Anton Hoffmeister and Gioachino Rossini’s six String Sonatas(or Sonatea quattro). Both sets differ from the ‘normal’ configuration in that they allow a double bass to take part, albeit in different ways. Rossini, who composed his sonatas at the age of 12 (!), left out the viola and gave the double bass a more or less conventional bass role –albeit with occasional virtuosic outbursts. The sonatas were first published in an arrangement for traditional string quartet and are often heard performed by string orchestras.

In Vienna, where he was active as a composer and music publisher, Hoffmeister(1754-1812) chose a different solution than Rossini and gave his double bass player a leading role in the ensemble, letting it replace the first violin. It was no coincidence that this happened in Vienna –considering the amount of solo works for the double bass composed there, the standard of playing must have been exceptional. On the present recording, it is the Dutch player Niekde Groot who takes up Hoffmeister’s challenge in the company of a Finnish trio consisting of Minna Pensola, Antti Tikkanen and Tuomas Lehto. Niekde Groot has also edited the score of the first of the Hoffmeister quartets, which is here recorded for the first time.

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Comments (8)

Comment by Waveform - October 9, 2017 (1 of 8)

The text of this comment has been deleted by the moderator. Reason:

User request

Comment by hiredfox - October 11, 2017 (2 of 8)

That's very good news although I wish BIS would up their game a little, technology has moved on and their recording standard of PCM 96kHz could certainly be improved upon these days. Their house sound does not appeal to all but they seem resolute in sticking to what they have.

Comment by Bruce Zeisel - October 11, 2017 (3 of 8)

Yes Hired Fox, I have had the same thoughts regarding technology and seeing what such as Channel Classics are doing - routinely doing keeping pace with technology. Still I am ususally surprised by the sound of many BIS recordings, aren't you?

Comment by William Hecht - October 11, 2017 (4 of 8)

According to my records in the last twelve months (12/16-11/17) BIS has released 53 sacds and Channel has issued 2 (and however many they release going forward they're not going to include Fagerlund, Pettersson, Klami et al). Chandos, like BIS using 24/96, has done 19 and Pentatone (new recordings only and recording technology not disclosed but I believe it varies with venue) 25 or 26. You two have been among my favorite fellow posters since the old days on but c'mon guys it's past time to wake up and smell the coffee. The number of discs produced using the latest and greatest technology is regrettably small and downloads encroach further and further on what is already an iffy business proposition. Do I wish BIS were using DSD 256? Sure. Would I like BIS to keep issuing 4-6 discs a month from the likes of Suzuki and Sudbin? Sure. Can I have it both ways? I don't think so.

Comment by Waveform - October 11, 2017 (5 of 8)

Guys, your comments made me think this more specifically and therefore I sent the following directly to Bissie [Robert von Bahr]:

"Have you ever considered to start recording SACDs using DXD (Direct eXtreme Definition) resolution?

As you stopped to use DSD for actual recording process for economical reasons around ten years ago your current audio resolution standard has been 24/96 PCM. Frankly speaking there is nothing wrong with that way but nowadays it would be possible to improve it considerably and the natural choice for this would be DXD.

1) DXD is a PCM signal with 24-bit resolution (8 bits more than the 16 bits used for Red Book CD) sampled at 352.8 kHz (almost 4 times better than 96 kHz). Therefore, when BIS will not return to DSD, DXD would be the best option to offer high-resolution audio in its purest form.
2) DXD was developed for the Merging Pyramix workstation, the same audio mastering tool that the BIS audio engineers have used up to this day. Before releasing the DXD recording on SACD it to be converted to DSD.
3) DXD allows you to record up to 32 channels simultaneously which to offer much more realistic soundfield for the final 5.0 surround sound mix compared to the standard way to use those 5 channels directly during the actual recording process.

DXD will work with BIS's current recording equipment so it's not necessary to change anything. The following changes to the booklet notes should be done if you decide to proceed on this way:

1) Original resolution: DXD
2) Our surround sound recordings aim to reproduce the natural sound in a concert venue as faithfully as possible, using the newest technology. In order to do so, all five channels are downmixed from 32-channel 352.8 kHz/24-bit DXD origins using the full frequency range, with no separate bass channel added: a so-called 5.0 configuration. If your sub-woofer is switched on, however, most systems will also automatically feed the bass signal coming from the other channels into it. In the case of systems with limited bass reproduction, this may be of benefit to your listening experience".

I will share his answer as soon as possible.

Comment by Waveform - October 11, 2017 (6 of 8)

Here's the answer of Bissie (more specific reply will be posted here later as soon as Matthias Spitzbarth will share his own throughs):

"For my own curiosity I will find out.

However, there are two comments:

1) we sometimes - for very big productions - use more than 32 mics
2) the reason why we abandoned DSD was not at all financial - it was that you really cannot edit in DSD and we do heavy editing.
To - like some labels - state that a recording is in DSD, when all editing has been done in PCM is a fraud, even if no one can hear the difference".

Comment by hiredfox - October 12, 2017 (7 of 8)

All that really matters is the music as Bill implies and this is not really the place to delve too deeply into the technical issues of recording.

Having said that DSD is a quasi analogue signal and yes it is true as Bissie says that editing in DXD may lead to misleading understanding but one still ends up with a signal sample rate of 4 x the standard PCM data rate of 96kHz and at a much greater bit depth. Self evidently that is still a huge improvement aurally on the 96kHz recording standard, DSD or not-DSD and we do not need golden ears to hear it. Luketsu's question is legitimate and deserves consideration. The fact that more and more people are editing in DSD now brings further focus to the challenge to BIS but not only BIS of course.

Comment by breydon_music - May 2, 2018 (8 of 8)

Many months on from the last comment, and now that Waveform's first post has been deleted, it's a job for me to know how this conversation started. However I have just made the great pleasure of this disc's acquaintance, and I must say to me however it was done both the performances and recording conspire to produce an hour or so's enchanting music-making. If it helps anyone else out there, I guess I had remained aloof from this because of the small numbers of performers involved and my penchant for the (very) old Marriner set from half a century ago. I think I must say this is even better, and I do hope the "other" disc is on its way. So if anyone is resisting because they think this might be sparse or scrapy, resist no longer and treat yourself to an hour or so of pure classical easy listening enjoyment.