Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Four Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis (ABC Classics)
This isn t a Heldenleben of extremes, but it s definitely a performance to live with. ABC s live recording is exceptionally good; the opening theme on lower strings and horns leaps out with a pleasing oomph. Sir Andrew Davis paces Der Held to perfection, the pleasingly rich sound suggesting that Strauss s hero is narrating his life story from a well-upholstered sofa. The scoring never feels too thick everything s nicely blended but you can still taste the component parts. The Melbourne critics aren t as barbed as some, but the Hero s considered response is silkily phrased. Dale Bartrop s extended violin solo is full of character, preceding a riveting, sharply-etched battle sequence. And The Hero s Retirement from the World is rightly moving, its horn and violin duet leading to the deepest, most sonorous of brass chords.
Davis also gives us the Four Symphonic Interludes drawn from the 1924 opera Intermezzo1. Plot knowledge isn t necessary; these ripe offcuts are superbly enjoyable as abstract music. There s a lovely moment in the first one where the scoring suddenly thins and an obbligato piano introduces a waltz. Dreaming by the Fireside is ripe but moving, before a card game leads to one of Strauss s happiest, most unbuttoned endings. All sensationally played and winningly conducted. Can we have more from this source, please?
Weinberg: Solo Sonatas for Violin nos. 1-3 Linus Roth (Challenge Classics)
Linus Roth s recording of Weinberg s powerful Violin Concerto2 remains an ideal entry point for anyone unfamiliar with this important, if uneven, composer. Here he turns to the composer s three sonatas for solo violin, interspersing them with violin and piano transcriptions of the Three Fantastic Dances composed by Weinberg s friend and mentor Shostakovich. Wittily accompanied by Jos Gallardo, they provide much-needed light relief, Roth pleasingly smoochy in the second dance. Weinberg wrote 12 unaccompanied string sonatas. The first two are multi-movement, middle period works. No. 1 s opening is an abrasive sequence of screeches and scrapings, before a serene, intensely melodic Andante steals in. Weinberg s third and fourth movements are playful and stark by turns, and the finale doesn t resolve matters. Easier on the ear is 1967 s Second Sonata, its seven short movements sounding like a sequence of character portraits. Whimsy, wistful melancholy and dry wit coexist. And, it s beautifully held together by Roth, playing the work as if he s delivering a series of soliloquies. You suspect that we re hearing Weinberg s true voice; we re certainly not being talked down to. The work s ending is something to savour: guitar-like strummings leading to a perfunctory closing gesture.
The Third Sonata presents additional challenges for any player notably the fact that besides the technical demands, its single movement form means that any violinist brave enough to tackle it needs a page turner to avoid grinding to a halt. Roth pulls it off by putting the score on an iPad, using a foot switch to turn the pages. Composed in memory of Weinberg s father, who had been murdered in the Holocaust, it s predictably intense. Poignant scraps of folk-like melody rub shoulders with fierce, florid writing, the klezmerish closing passage recalling Shostakovich s Piano Trio no. 2. It takes real persuasiveness to bring such uncompromising music to life, and Roth succeeds brilliantly. Essential listening.
Rolf Lislevand: La Mascarade – music by Robert de Vis e and Francesco Corbetta (ECM)
Robert de Vis e and Francesco Corbetta were guitarist-composers in the court of Louis XIV the former was occasionally asked by the monarch to play his guitar whilst walking a few steps behind him through the gardens at Versailles ( the first Walkman or iPod in musical history ). Rolf Lislevand s rambling, ornate booklet essay arguably reflects the aesthetics of the time, though it s still an entertaining and poetic read. La Mascarade is the title of a Rondeau by de Vis e, with Lislevand using the title in a more general sense to describe these pieces where an appearance is not the true face nothing is to be taken literally. The music s formal elegance never quite masks the deeper, darker currents flowing below the surface: La Mascarade s polished surface conceals a melancholy underbelly.
As a sensual experience, this disc is sublime: if you ve never heard a theorbo ( the king of the lutes ) before, sample de Vis e s brief Chaconne en la mineur, the plucked bass notes ringing out like bells under Lislevand s elaborate finger picking. He also plays a lighter-sounding Baroque guitar, heard to radiant effect in Corbetta s gorgeous little Sarabanda per la B. Corbetta s pieces tend to sound a little brighter and less troubled than those of his pupil de Vis e: his tiny Folie is simpler and more direct than a piece like de Vis e s La Muzette, the repetitive opening bars of which sound disconcertingly modern. A desert island disc, and something to wallow in and savour. ECM s production values are usually impressive, but this disc is exceptional by their standards. Lislevand describes relaxing in a Versailles hotel room with a glass of red wine before tackling de Vis e s Sarabande en si mineur. As listeners, I urge you all to follow his example.
Today is the second of AMD s recent graphics card releases. While AMD sampled reference solutions for RX 480, they are relying on partner cards for the RX 470 launch. Today we take a close up look at the Asus RX 470 Strix Gaming which arrives with a custom cooler, RGB lighting and enhanced out of the box speeds.
In AMD s literature they claim the RX 470 can handle high definition gaming above 60 FPS+ at max settings . Yes, they obviously mean 1080p. Thankfully today we don t have to focus on one of their reference cooled cards and can invest our time into the rather subdued, yet lovely looking Asus RX 470 Strix Gaming card.
The Asus card features a Direct CU II cooler with patented wing blade fans which deliver high air pressure. In a similar fashion to their high end models, the card is equipped with Aura RGB lighting and has customisable colour decals to let you express your own style. This card has 4 pin fan headers on the PCB allowing additional fans to be controlled directly from the card.
GPU Radeon R9 290X Radeon R9 390 Radeon R9 390X Radeon R9 Fury Radeon R9 Fury X Radeon RX 480 Radeon RX 470 Shader Units 2816 2560 2816 3584 4096 2304 2048 ROPs 64 64 64 64 64 32 32 Graphics Processor Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii Fiji Fiji Ellesmere Ellesmere Transistors 6200M 6200M 6200M 8900M 8900M 5700M 5700M Memory Size 4GB 8GB 8GB 4GB 4GB 4GB/8GB 4GB/8GB Memory Bus Width 512 bit 512 bit 512 bit 4096 bit 4096 bit 256 bit 256 bit Core Clock 1000 mhz 1000 mhz 1050 mhz 1000 mhz 1000 mhz up to 1266mhz up to 1206mhz Memory Clock 1250mhz 1500mhz 1500mhz 500mhz 500mhz 2000mhz 1650mhz
An overview of the Ellesmere RX 470 in GPUz. AMD s RX 480 has 2,304 stream processors, the RX 470 has 2,048. Both have 32 ROPS, however the RX470 loses 16 texture units, from 144 on the RX 480 to 128 on the RX 470. The ASUS card has two overclocked modes available Gaming mode which runs at 1250mhz and OC mode running at 1270mhz. We have tested graphics cards from all manufacturers in recent months at their fastest supported speeds, just to keep things on an even footing. I believe that KitGuru readers will use these OC modes available via the supplied software anyway. Both RX 470 and RX 480 are built around a 256 bit memory interface and while we are reviewing a 4GB RX 470 the subject of memory count doesn t quite end there.
Time for a little preamble now
The week before this review went live was certainly interesting behind the scenes, especially in regards to our conversations with a handful of etailers and AMD themselves. It would appear that AMD will be releasing 4GB and 8GB versions of the RX 470 even though its not official news yet. Price points for the high grade customised 4GB RX 470 cards just before launch are said to be around the 190 mark. If you are a regular KitGuru reader you will remember our review of the excellent, customised 4GB Sapphire RX 480 Nitro OC from last week at a price point of only 199.99 (HERE2). 199.99 is potentially only 10 more than a high grade RX 470. We can only guess what potential 8GB versions of the RX 470 will likely cost more than a 4GB RX480? I certainly can t see a lot of sense in that. AMD seem to have their pricing strategy all wrong with these cards. Simply releasing a 4GB RX470 and an 8GB RX480 with a 50- 60 price difference between cards would have been more market savvy to me. It seems rather obvious that incorporating 8GB of GDDR5 memory into a RX470 seems somewhat pointless the GPU will be long out of horsepower before it ever requires 8GB of texture memory.
On the go flash drives have become increasingly popular as our storage needs continue to grow quicker than smart device manufacturers can design new devices. With all this data being moved on a day to day basis, storage vendors like Transcend have taken things into their own hands producing hybrid flash drives with many different types of connection, dependent on its intended platform.
The JetDrive Go 300S is an iOS or Lightning flash drive that happens to have a Type-A USB 3.1 connection on the opposite end. Transcend marketing is throwing numbers at us that allow this drive, even in its 32GB capacity we have in the lab, to reach 130 MB/s read. Additional capacity options include a 64GB and 128GB model with color options of black or silver.
Operating system compatibility includes Windows XP through Windows 10, while the Macintosh side includes support for OS 9 and beyond. For smartphones, you’re definitely going to need a Lightning connector, so that includes the iPhone 5 through the 6s Plus along with iPad 4th generation and on and iPod 5th gen and forward.
The MSRP of the 32GB Transcend JetDrive Go 300S comes in at £44.99 with a two-year warranty.
Packaging carries a good deal of information including capacity and performance to the left. Along the bottom, we have compatibility and to the right several use cases.
The back side gives specifications of the drive along with compatible operating systems.
The scope of delivery is rather simple with the drive and warranty card.
This drive has a thin aluminum body with Transcend branding. Capacity is listed at the Type-A connector end of the drive.
Above, we have the Gen 1 USB 3.1 port, otherwise known as USB 3.0.
To get things started, we need the JetDrive Go app from the store.
I’m not sure what Transcend used as a platform because I haven’t seen any other app laid out in this manner, but it’s simple and very easy to use.
For those wanting to back up their device, this is rather easy as you can simply choose what to backup and the destination and click backup.
I have had a good amount of these OTG flash drive come through over the past year or so and the JetDrive Go, apart from the iKlips, is the quickest overall drive.
Price/Performance stands out as the JetDrive Go 300S takes tops honors in this category for iOS solutions.
After receiving the 300S a few weeks back, I have been using it as a weekly backup solution for my iPhone just to get a feel for how the drive, on a daily basis, interfaces with my life. I can say I’m quite happy with the build quality as this drive has successfully made it in and out of the cab of a tractor many times being dropped in the dirt and run over by a bean drill and it’s not even IP6x certified. With that said, I did lose the caps for both ends within a week of using it.
Performance, as seen in testing, made this the quickest iOS solution to come through TweakTown and adding in its price metric only strengthens its resolve as this drive its tops on that chart as well for iOS.
The application for this drive is very easy to use. I’m happy that Transcend went a different route opting to make their own app and not rebrand the Photofast app that everyone else has. Overall, while the MSRP at £44.99 for the 32GB model puts this drive a touch over 1£ per GB, and there are cheaper options on the market, with its performance taken into account, there is no better solution for iOS as of today.