Vinyl Review: Brahms Variations and Fugue – Sheffield Lab 4 – Released 1976
Vinyl surface noise: 5 (not pops and clicks)
Dynamic Range: 5
Stereo Imaging: 4+
Image depth/perspective: 4
Overall frequency response: 4
- Air With Variations from Suite in B flat major
- Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel – (Opus 24) – Aria, Variations 1-13
- Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel – (Opus 24) – Variations 14-25, Fugue
- Mazurka in A Minor – (Opus 17, No 4)
Lincoln Mayorga, one of the founding members of the Sheffield Lab team, has played on many of the Sheffield Lab albums. As an outstanding pianist and composer, he is one of the few that can comfortably move between playing jazz and classical renditions and excel at both styles of music.
This was the label’s first classical piano solo recital by Lincoln Mayorga, and provides the first insights into Lincoln’s classical keyboard abilities. Not being a musician I could only compare his playing to that of my wife and daughter, both classically trained pianists. Sorry to say that I think that they have a ways to go!!
The piano appeared to have been stereo miked and played in a studio environment, so lacks a little in the warmth of a room’s ambience. This does not detract from the performance making it just a little analytical and a touch sterile, lacking the warmth that I am sure would have emerged if it had been recorded in a concert hall. Nevertheless, to my ears it sounded outstanding, and I regularly listen to my wife and daughter playing on our upright and baby grand pianos.
There are plenty of huge dynamics extending from pianissimo to fortissimo. It is one of the few Sheffield Lab recordings that push my cartridges tracking to its limits, occasionally pushing it too far! The recording has a full and extended frequency range with the piano sounding like a ‘real piano’, not quite in the room with me, but very close. The recording provided good stereo imaging which in my case appeared just a little too narrow. Vinyl surface noise is commendably low at all times except during the last 30 seconds or so of Mazurka in A Minor.
For those classical aficionados out there this is a fine recording showing the capabilities and subtleties that D2D recording can provide.