Linn Records Sampler -

10 February 2004
Constantine Soo

All artists featured in Linn's Linn Records 2001 sampler (Linn AKP 175) display serious, world class talents that any record label can be proud of.  For a hardware manufacturer to have such an entrepreneurial presence in the music business is not only a rarity and a blessing to audiophiles and music lovers alike, this integration of music and the technology that recreates it in our
homes is also a positive and powerful testimony for the high-end audio industry.  How did Linn get the time and resources to do so many things in a single year?

Of the 26 tracks, the first 5 are of contemporary rock and jazz, followed by 13 classical performances in a variety of string quartet, oratorio, chamber, lute songs, so forth.  Then, track 19 marks another trail of contemporary instrumentals and vocals with Perfect Houseplants' Holding Back.

The CD begins with a stylish jazz ensemble Hue & Cry's Free Like You, flanked by energetic horns, piano and percussions, then the CD moves onto a melodic pop song, Fever Pitch, by The McCluskey Brothers.  Track 3 features Claire Martin, who was awarded the accolade of Best Vocalist at the British Jazz Awards 2000.  Her People Make the World Go Round has not a single dull moment.  Amidst the highly virtuosic brasses and other instruments around her, the singing cast aside questions of her virtuosity. In Blah de Blah, jazz trumpeter Gerard Presencer demonstrates a contrasting style from that of JVC's Tiger Okoshi, proving that sparing trumpeting can be just as effective and lyrical as Tiger's trademark lamentation.

The solo piano lamentation, Arvo Part, by pianist Elena Riu, is highly thought provocative, bestowing the entire track with overflowing ingenuity.  The Schidlof Quartet's playing of Schumann's String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 41 no. 1 may not be the most authoritative; but the fiddling is decisive and well coordinated, and the sound of the strings is finely grained.  Dunedin Consort's vocal rendition of Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei is sonically superior in dimensionality, musically more youthful but surprisingly languishing in emotion.  A gem.

Vivaldi's Concerto in F Major, 1st Movement, is performed with startling authority and spirit by the Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment.  As the sonic complexity of the strings lures one into the sheer beauty of sound, the highly disciplined and yet spirited playing of the ensemble demands a playing time beyond the 3:43. 

Track 20.  Who is this Martin Taylor?  It is rare to hear someone make the guitar sound so sublime in Johnny And Mary, and what about this Tommy Smith playing his classy saxophone in Ellington's In A Sentimental Mood?  His is one of the more effective version of the classic.  And did I mention Carol Kidd's flamboyant vocal amidst the flirtatious big-band accompaniment in track 21, I've Got You Under My Skin?  Also, Barb Jungr's iteration in I Love Paris features a most sentimental violin accompaniment among other instruments that lend a Parisian touch. 

And the CD ends most befittingly with the longest track, Ba Mo Leanabh (O My Baby), harmonized beautifully by a trio of mesmerizing female vocalists that echoes well beyond the ensuing silence after it ends. 

Listening to this CD has been an overwhelming experience from beginning to end, one that conveyed Linn's unsurpassed efforts and visions in both hardware and software development on the face of this planet. 

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