Lovely Recordings: Hosted by Jared Beebe

I would have to say that my listening habits are different from most people because I spend so much time in different locations out in a bush camp or some remote third world country. I do the majority of my listening while on the job with a set of headphones either hooked into a laptop or personal audio device. Therefore I like music that takes my mind off of where I am (I’ve worked in locations ranging from north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska and northern Canada to the deserts of the Great Basin, Mexico and Sudan to the tropical forests of Mexico, Central America and Indonesia) and bears repeated listening because portability is very important as I have to live out of a backpack or suitcase for up to a month at a time.

In minerals exploration, one has to go to where the minerals are, not downtown to the office. Digital files for music was a Godsend for me because I could carry the music I like in something the size of a pair of headphones and a paperback book. These ten albums meet that criteria and I can become absorbed in them time and time again, so it isn’t necessary to carry a bunch of files. The performances are outstanding and either have a good story behind them or tell a good story. These performances also come through on inexpensive equipment, a consideration for me because if I drop a rock on the player or drop it in a swamp I don’t want to feel that bad about losing it.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, Bavarian State Orchestra, Carlos Kleiber (Orfeo, 2006)
This is far and away the best recording I’ve heard of Beethoven’s 7th, not many classical symphonic recording make me want to get up and move, but this one does. There is just an overwhelming sense of—this is what a concert is supposed to be—this is a live recording. I prefer it to the Carlos Kleiber recording with the Vienna Philharmonic. Many reviewers compare new, dramatic recordings of this symphony to Kleiber’s, I think it’s best to go back to the source. Everything is on fire and everything is where it’s supposed to be. The recording is entirely adequate in that it doesn’t get in the way of the music although it’s probably not audiophile quality, but with a performance like this, the quality of the recording seems to be less important. I haven’t found this as a download, but the disc is readily available and worth finding.

Available from Presto Classical (SACD)

Henryk Górecki: III Symfonia, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, cond., National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Zofia Kilanowicz (soprano) (Polskie Radio, 2005)
Another live recording, with Gorecki conducting his third symphony. This is the most heartfelt recording of this symphony, the most warm and human sounding and a truly wonderful performance. This recording has more of a sense of presence or an actual event than any other I’ve heard. The first popular version of this symphony by Upshaw and Zinman has a crystalline clarity to it that this one doesn’t have, but I still prefer the warmth and presence of this one. Difficult to find on disc though, I’m hoping that Lipinski Sound releases it again. I believe Larry Greenhill in Stereophile Records to Die For 2009 gave it a favorable review and he was pretty much on the money.

Originally available from Lipinski Sound (SACD)

Various: This One's for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark (Icehouse Music, 2012)
Greatest hits of Guy Clark sung by everybody but Guy Clark. Lots of love and respect here, and everybody really seems to be enjoying themselves. I don’t think there is a better songwriter than Guy Clark and this is one that I always come back to. It seems to be a Who’s Who of current county (?) music from Emmylou Harris and John Prine on “Magnolia Wind” to Lyle Lovett on “Anyhow I Love You” to Willie Nelson on “Desperados Waiting for a Train”. Every word in these songs has meaning and the music is pretty good too. A box of hand crafted gems sung by performers who are having a good time.

Available from Qobuz

Isabelle Boulay: Chanson pour les mois d'hiver (Audiogram, 2009)
Gilles Vigneault said "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver" ("My country is not a country, it's winter") and this 2009 album by Isabelle Boulay is a celebration of that idea. This album is like coming in from a cold day in the Quebec forest and meeting a loved one at the door who welcomes you into the warmth of the house. All of the songs on this are good, although if it’s possible to have a favorite, it would be the title song for me. Only one song in English, but you don’t have to be francophone to understand the feeling on this album. I listen to it all winter, but perhaps a bit more around Christmas.

Available on Amazon (CD)

Christine and the Queens: Christine and the Queens (Neon Gold/Atlantic/Because, 2015)
Héloïse Letissier seems to be the French female successor to David Bowie, her music seems to be as difficult to pigeonhole as her orientation, but this seems to be a good thing as I keep coming back to and enjoying this album. There are not many albums where I like all of the tracks, but here I do. Sung in both French and English and it doesn’t seem to matter which. I think I may be on the verge of overplaying this because my daughter is more familiar with the music than I.

Available from HDtracks

Corb Lund: Cabin Fever (deluxe version) (New West Records, 2012)
Almost too intelligent and smart ass to be county and western, but hugely enjoyable. The deluxe version is fun because it has acoustic versions of the same tracks, songs must be pretty good because I don’t really notice the differences between the two. The nice thing about digital and downloads is that you can’t wear the recording out, because I certainly would have in the last couple of years since I bought this recording. It’s hard not to crack a smile for “Gravedigger” or “Bible on the Dash” or “Gothist Girl I Can”.

Available from PonoMusic

Ravel: Piano Music for Four Hands, Louis Lortie, Hélène Mercier (piano) (Chandos, 1992)
I listen to this album for "Ma Mere l’Oye", but the other pieces are just as enjoyable. Lortie and Mercier have a better grasp of the childlike wonder of "Ma Mere l’Oye" than any of the other performance I’ve heard.

Available from Presto Classical

Jos Van Immerseel Conducts Mussorgsky & Ravel (Zigzag, 2014)
Once again, I bought this for "Ma Mere l’Oye" and the original instrumentation helps lighten and clarify the entire piece for sophisticated children. The same technique also helps with "Pictures at an Exhibition" making more of a child’s stroll through the museum than an adult’s. I have several other performances of both of these pieces for orchestra and keep coming back to these two.

Available from Presto Classical

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue: An American in Paris - Leonard Bernstein, piano and Conducting Columbia Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Columbia, 1959)
This 1959 recording by Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra is still the best performance out there in my opinion and this is the best version of that performance in DSD128. This is a piece of music that needs an over the top performance and that is what you have here. There doesn’t seem to be any extra definition to the sound with the extra resolution, but rather an absence of artifacts.

Available from HDTT

Lila Downs: La Cantina (Narada, 2006)
Mexican music just doesn’t get any more authentic than this, I bought this while working in Mexico and all of the local people I was working with said this was the Mexican equivalent of old time music and where else can you get a recipe for mole in a song?

Available from PonoMusic

I’m a semi-retired gold exploration geologist, semi-retired until the economy tanks and most investors take money out of stocks and bonds and into precious metals. I usually listen to music on a laptop out in a bush camp with a set of headphones either here in Canada or the US or in a third world country elsewhere in the world. I started listening to classical music first and then grew into folk, rock and world and later country when I was working in Nevada. I’m 66 years old now and almost all of my music is on a server. I was born in the US, live in Quebec, speak English, and muddle through Spanish and French.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

Fetuso's picture

I'm not familiar with the the recordings, but you have a very interesting line of work. I'll bet if Michael Fremer were an exploration geologist he would take his turntable out into the bush. It's not so far fetched, if you think about it. All he would need is a portable generator, a self-powered speaker, a light weight turntable, and a few records. Oh, wait, what am I talking about? How would he clean the records? Never mind.

I kid because I care.

Jared Beebe's picture

I think most people would be surprised at what some geologists take out in the bush for creature comforts.