Garden of Early Delights - Pamela Thorby & Andrew Lawrence-King - Ultra Audio
Longtime audiophiles will tell you, and rightly so, that it's not necessarily the big sounds that prove the mettle of an audio system, but the smaller. When auditioning new loudspeakers, I always carry a piano-and-guitar disc with me, and I now might carry this one as well. Pamela Thorby's Garden of Earthly Delights is largely devoted to intimate music -- by such Renaissance composers as Van Eyck, Ortiz, Dowland, Bassano, and Fontana -- that evokes feelings of joy and pleasure. These works are played perfectly by Thorby and Andrew Lawrence-King, both stellar soloists who combine their virtuoso talents in ensemble playing of the first order. Linn Records has provided sound so clear that there's no thought of a speaker being in the way. The CD tracks are excellent, the two-channel SACD tracks a bit brighter and cleaner, the multichannel SACD tracks warmer and more three-dimensional. This disc will cause a frown only if you find that your audio system is not up to the task of reproducing it.