Music Reviews

The Cobra Catalog

This month, NativeDSD’s Label of the Month is Cobra Records. Cobra Records is an independent “fair trade” label with acoustic recordings in the highest possible quality. Label manager, producer and recording engineer is Tom Peeters. With over 20 years experience for different label companies and international artists he is a well known, involved and much appreciated producer. Each release is a “special product” in the highest recording quality and a very good looking package. All productions are developed in close collaboration with artists and they get 100% artistic freedom. The goal is to record and release Chamber Music at the highest quality possible in Stereo, Multichannel and Binaural DSD.

I dove into their catalog and discovered some absolute gems! I don’t know many labels whose music I find so attractively presented, both technically and artistically. Here’s a selection of 12 Albums I would extra warmly recommend, out of Cobra’s 44 DSD Albums Catalog.

Always listen to a cobra

Last time I featured a wonderful album of music by Czech composers.

That one made me think about some other wonderful albums I’ve mentioned over the course the last couple of years released by Cobra Records. I don’t know many labels whose music I find so attractively presented, both technically and artistically. I also like that many of these albums are available in binaural versions– plop on your headphones and you are there! But whether you choose binaural or one of the two-channel or multi-channel versions you will get some wonderful music, beautifully performed and captured.

I decided to go back to some earlier releases and was delighted to discover these:

Ravel’s Trio, played by the Trio Suleika, a wonderful, warm four movement work. And if you’re like me you will be especially delighted by the arrangement for piano trio of Ravel’s Alborada del Gracioso. I was totally charmed by this set, and I think you may be as well.

What wonderful music! Joris van den Berg, cello, and Martijn Willers, piano, play these sonatas by Prokofiev, Lutoslawski, and Britten. It’s all accessible and very involving. There’s something about hearing musicians who seem totally committed to the music that is especially gratifying.

More from Joris van den Berg along with other members of the Ruysdael Quartet. I fell in love with the Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev works on both of these albums. You can’t help but have a strong emotional reaction to these recordings.   Volume 2 has Tchaikovsky’s exquisite 2nd Quartet, Prokofiev’s folk-based 2nd Quartet, and his grandson, Gabriel’s 2nd quartet.

Volume 3 has the same composers; Tchaikovsky’s 3rd Quartet, Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins, and Gabriel Prokofiev’s 3rd Quartet.

So where is Volume 1? I knew you’d ask me that! I really don’t know. Start with Volume 2 and revel in the Tchaikovsky and the Sergei Prokofiev Quartets.

Sometimes I wonder what sort of music Brahms would have composed had he been born 20 or 30 years later. In his first symphony and in these quartets he reveals the influence of the “giants” who preceded him, and yet I do not find Brahms at all regressive or conservative. In fact I have heard shades of what has been called impressionism in his piano music. Anyway— that’s all well and good, and maybe we can discuss it over some libation someday. But these quartets as performed by the Cuerteto Quiroga are universal in their appeal. And I especially enjoyed the Binarual version in my headphones.

Why aren’t there more recordings like this? The combination of Pauline Oostenrijk’s oboe and Enno Voorhorst’s guitar is a match made in music heaven! I was reminded of one of my favorite albums of the past, “Duets with the Spanish Guitar” featuring Laurindo Almeida on Guitar and his wife, Salli Terri (soprano-alto). Peaceful, restful, soulful music to make you very happy. Take a listen…

The highlight of this 33rd edition of my discoveries is this album of “youthful” works by Mozart. Philippe Graffin conducts the remarkable Brabant Philharmonic Orchestra and is the violin soloist in these works. He is joined in some of them by Nobuko Imai on viola. And worth the price all by itself is a short story commissioned by Graffin, “Too Much Mozart”, by journalist and author Jessica Duchin. By the way, this is a double length album, so you get twice as much joy for your buck, euro, piaster…   What? Mozart has never been your thing? This is an album that may just change your mind!

Cover Photo by Meet Konkani on Unsplash

Written by

Bill Dodd

Bill is Senior Music Reviewer at NativeDSD. He lives in the Portland, Oregon area. He is an avid photographer too! Along with his early interest in broadcasting and high fidelity audio, he was exposed to classical music in small doses from age 5, was given piano lessons from age 9— Starting with Bach and including Gershwin. Successful morning personality in San Francisco at age 22. (true). Sang in choirs in high school and college. Although the broadcasting experience was all in popular music, his personal listening has been mostly classical his whole life—along with others including Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Joni Mitchell, The Who, and Led Zeppelin.


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