Review of Digital Download vs Tape: Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Ed Pong (UltraAnalogue) decided to expand his recorded repertoire with two of the big five with a piano accompanist playing the orchestral part. Ed has been able to get some really top notch violinists (and other musicians) to play in his home concert venue with excellent results. The two concerti, the Tchaikovsky is played by Angelo Xiang Yu and the Mendelssohn played by Alena Baeva. Yu won the 2010 Menuhin Competition. Baeva won three international competitions – the Wieniawski Competition when she was 16 in 2001, the Moscow Paganini Competition in 2005 and the Tokyo Sendai Competition in 2007. I heard her (with Ed and his wife Amy) in Oxford last summer, playing the Schumann Concerto. Accompanying her on the piano in the Mendelssohn is her new husband, Vadym Kholodendo, who won the Van Cliburn competition in 2013.

Both tapes are very much worth getting. With a piano accompaniment, the violin part is much easier to hear, with lots of subtleties that can be lose with the orchestra. Ed has been digitizing many of his albums – so they are available to a wider audience. I heard the Mendelssohn with Alena and Vadym, comparing the analogue tape (15ips 2 track) with the digital DSD128. The digital (through my Lampizator Pacific) sounds very fine – quite close to the tape.