Wilson Audiophile Recordings—dormant all these years—has chosen well for its first HD downloads. Recital: James Welch is a stunning recording of a modest-sized Flentrop organ. The program is mostly Bach, with a few less familiar composers thrown in, notably Jan Koetsier, whose exquisite Partita for English Horn and Organ opens the program. Organ recordings are usually judged by their dynamic power; this one impresses by virtue of its tonal and timbral nuances. Details of Welch’s registrations can be fully appreciated: it’s quite obvious when a stop that isn’t an octave multiple of the fundamental pitch has been added.
I've long felt that David Abel and Julie Steinberg’s two violin-and-piano records for Wilson are the best-sounding chamber music recordings I’ve ever heard. The hall has been effectively eliminated from the equation and the two musicians are there in your listening room, palpably scaled and positioned. Abel has a small but attractive tone, and he plays with spot- on intonation and a narrow, even vibrato. The subtlety and control of his playing is matched by his accompanist.
I have a pristine copy of the Abel/ Steinberg LP and it pains me—I’m no vinyl fetishist—to report that the record sounds better. The two players are presented in even sharper relief and the overtone structure of Abel’s instrument is delivered with exceptional realism. Some of these Wilson LPs go for hundreds of dollars on-line. I can see why. Time for Wilson to reissue them.