It’s that exciting time of year again… time to begin our Album of the Year Awards process! Highlighting and honouring the highest quality DSD music is what we do at NativeDSD. And there is no better way than to let you, our trusted music-loving audiophiles, vote on the top albums from the last year.
Throughout 2023 we have had new labels join the NativeDSD mission, we’ve seen a huge increase in new albums, gone in-depth with DSD music makers for our blog, and worked hard to continue showcasing the great DSD music being made around the world. We have a lot to celebrate!
Next comes the difficult part. How does NativeDSD select the nominees for Best DSD Albums of the Year? As has been our tradition, NativeDSD has asked Senior Reviewer Bill Dodd and Technical Advisor Brian Moura to carefully review the year’s DSD releases and bring our listeners 2 to 5 nominations in several musical categories.
Part 3 the final categories:
This is a great way to applaud and reward the excellent music and performances that the music labels and artists have brought us this year. And it also is a guide for our listeners to see what we have selected as the best DSD music in 2023. The nominations highlight what you may have missed throughout the year.
Soloist with Orchestra (Bill Dodd)
Beethoven: Violin Concerto (New Cadenzas by Jorg Widmann)
Beethoven: Violin Concerto€17,99 – €34,49
Veronika Eberle, London Symphony Orchesta, Sir Simon Rattle
LSO Live – LSO5094D
Veronika Eberle and Sir Simon do a fine job with the Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, but I join many others in singling out the new cadenzas by Jorg Widmann for new life to this landmark work.
Prokofiev: Violin Concertos
Prokofiev Violin Concertos€17,99 – €34,49
Maria Milstein, Phion Orchestra of Gelderland & Overijssel, Otto Tausk
Channel Classics – 45223
These two concertos come from different times in Prokofiev’s life, and are quite different from each other. Maria Milstein digs way down into each in such a way that I feel like I’m really feeling the composer’s intentions. These recordings have risen to the top of my list. The Channel sound is, as usual, suberb!
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3€17,99 – €34,49
Anna Fedorova, Sinfonie Orchester St. Gallen, Modestas Pitrenas
Channel Classics – 45023
I’ll defer to Rush Paul, from his review on Positive Feedback: Her delivery is not bravura for it’s own sake. It’s is never a matter of “look at me, hear what I can do” – it is always “listen to what Rachmaninoff is sharing with us.” Listen to the samples!
Beethoven: The Complete Beethoven Concertos
The Complete Beethoven Piano Concertos€24,99 – €40,99
Garrick Ohlsson, Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, Sir Donald Runnicles
Reference Recordings – FR751B
I’ll start with the bottom line: These are all of the Concertos, and they are all the recordings I would ever need. Ohlsson and Runnicles are of one mind, and one heart. The orchestra is made up of top players from all over. And you get them all at a very attractive price! Oh… and don’t forget the top quality Reference recording. Absolutely excellent!
World Music (Brian Moura)
Bihar (Pure DSD)
Bihar [Pure DSD]€17,99 – €30,99
Attacca World Music with Special Guest Kalman Balogh
Hunnia Records – HRES2229
This is a unique album that features Hungarian Folk Music collected by composer Bela Bartok from Bihor Country and music from Transylvania. It is performed by the 7 member Attacca World Music ensemble with guest musician Kalman Balogh. The album offers contrasts between samples of some of the original compositions from 1909-1910 on cylinder recordings and new recordings by the Attacca World Music ensemble recorded in Stereo Pure DSD 256. One NativeDSD listener called Bihar is one of the best albums in the entire NativeDSD catalog. I found it to be a lively and fun journey through almost an hour of very enjoyable music.
Waraba (The Lion) (Pure DSD)
Waraba [Pure DSD]€17,99 – €34,49
Jean-Jacques Avenel with Yakhouba Sissokho, Lansiné Kouyaté, Moriba Koïta & Michel Edelin
Songlines Recordings – SGLSA15492
On Waraba (“The Lion” in the Bamana language) we hear the music of Double Bass player Jean-Jacques Avenel and Flutist Michel Edelin (both from France) with Yakhouba Sissokho, Lansiné Kouyaté and Moriba Koita creating what Avenel calls a World Jazz band. The tracks feature West African Manding music with Jazz stylings. It’s a tasty and upbeat blend of sounds that will keep you coming back to explore the music further – whether you are listening in Stereo or in 5 Channel Surround Sound Pure DSD.
Hemdat-Avot (Father’s Grace)
Hemdat-Avot (Father’s Grace)€17,99 – €26,99
Regga Records – REG001
The first release at NativeDSD from Regga Records was this album of Hebrew music performed solely with Acoustic Guitar and Vocals. This focuses your attention on the lyrics and heartfelt feeling behind the singer’s interpretation of each song. Truly an album to listen to in a quiet reflective setting. It was one of 2023’s Best Selling Albums at NativeDSD and the one with the most listener 5-Star reviews.
Intizar: Songs of Longing
Intizar: Songs of Longing€17,99 – €34,49
Rembrandt Trio, Mohammad Motamedi, Myrthe Helder, Maya Fridman & Maarten Ornstein
Just Listen Records – JL031
The Rembrandt Trio featuring composer and pianist Rembrandt Frerichs, bass player Tony Overwater and percussionist Vinsent Planjer continue their exploration of bringing together Jazz and World Music with their 4th album at NativeDSD – Intizar: Songs of Longing. This time they are joined by Iranian singer Mohammad Motamedi who brings Persian poetry to the album with a keen ability to find just the right verses to meet the moment. The Trio enhances the musical possibilities on some tracks by adding three more top flight musicians – Maya Fridman (cello), Maarten Ornstein (clarinet) and Myrthe Helder (violin). It is a musical experience not to be missed.
Jazz Solo Instrumental (Brian Moura)
Piano Solo Music
Piano Solo Music€17,99 – €30,99
Hunnia Records – HRES1606
Roland Dornyei credits the guests at the Spirit Hotel for inspiring the creation of the album Piano Solo Music. Dornyei describes the album as giving listeners a chance to experience “Bar Piano” playing. It features selections from almost 70 songs in an 80-minute program. The program is divided up into a multitude of genres including Hungarian and International Hits, Chansons, Jazz Standards, Musicals, Pop Hits, Film and Soundtrack Music, World Music, Hungarian Folk Songs, Italian, French and Russian Songs and Classical Interpretations. The album is enjoyable to listen to as you are treated to one favorite after another.
Autumn Rain In A Secret Garden (Pure DSD)
Autumn Rain In A Secret Garden [Pure DSD]€17,99 – €30,99
Hunnia Records – HRES2313
This album features 12 original tracks composed and played by Csaba Pengo on Double Bass. In the liner notes, Pengo says that he rehearses each song before recording and he pays close attention to every note. Stopping the recording and starting again if something is not just right. His attention to detail and exploration of what is musically possible with the Double Bass is what makes this album special. It is also a showcase for recording in the Stereo Pure DSD 256 format delivering detail and dynamic range that will test the finest of audio systems. If you missed this album when it was released earlier this year, be sure to download a copy now.
Jazz Duo (Brian Moura)
Budapest€18,99 – €30,99
Juhász Gábor & Gyémánt Bálint
Hunnia Records – HRES1110
A tribute to the City of Budapest from Juhász Gábor & Gyémánt Bálint, two guitarists in love with the City. Gabor gave guitar lessons to Balint and convinced him to become a Jazz guitarist. All but one of the songs on the album are written by the duo. A NativeDSD listener said the album features “Excellent Music with an Excellent Recording.” That says it all.
Crescent: Music of John Coltrane
Crescent: Music of John Coltrane€17,99 – €30,99
Atzko Kohashi & Tony Overwater
Sound Liaison – SL1060A
Recorded during the Covid pandemic, Crescent features pianist Atzko Kohashi and double bass player Tony Overwater, two very familiar and prolific Jazz musicians that each have multiple albums in the NativeDSD catalog. On this album they perform four songs from John Coltrane as well as classics from Bob Haggard, Charlie Haden and Jules Styne plus a track written by Tony Overwater. The album gives chances for both members of the duo to shine in a well-recorded and enjoyable release.
Jazz Trio (Brian Moura)
Swansong€20,99 – €30,99
Gábor Csordás, Marty Risemberg & Noriaki Hosoya
Hunnia Records – HRES1905
NativeDSD listeners will remember pianist Gabor Csordas for his Pure DSD 256 Stereo recording Chasing A Dream which won Album of the Year honors last year in the Jazz Piano category. Swansong is the third in a series of albums from the trio of Gábor Csordás, Marty Risemberg & Noriaki Hosoya. It follows the two earlier Pure DSD 256 Stereo albums Turbulence and Do Swans Fly? from the trio. All the music on the album has been composed by members of the trio. It is refreshing and upbeat Jazz. A delightful album for any occasion.
Lujon€17,99 – €30,99
Atzko Kohashi, Frans van der Hoeven & Sebastiaan Kaptein
Sound Liaison – SL1029A
On Lujon, Jazz Pianist Atzko Kohashi is joined by Frans van der Hoeven (Double Bass) and Sebastiaan Kaptein (Drums) to bring us an album of original compositions and Jazz standards. The standards are from an all-star group of composers including Henry Mancini, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Kenny Wheeler, George Gershwin, and Charlie Chaplin. The album has a warm ambient sonic quality while the arrangements offer music with a bit of melancholy that feels very suited for listening in the evening hours.
Synchronicity: An Interpretation of the album by The Police
Synchronicity: An Interpretation of the album by The Police€20,99 – €22,99
Outer Marker Records – OM01100H
The Hazelrigg Brothers is a Jazz Trio featuring brothers George Hazelrigg on Piano and Geoff Hazelrigg on Bass plus John O’Reilly Jr. on Drums. In addition to their musical adventures as a Jazz Trio, the two brothers are also known in the music industry for their hand made recording studio gear under the brand name Hazelrigg Industries. On Synchronicity, the trio pays tribute to the classic album by The Police on its 40th Anniversary with some very interesting new arrangements for Jazz Trio. Recorded Live to Stereo DSD 128 with two Stereo Microphones, the album is destined to be an audiophile favorite for its excellent detail, sonic quality, and performances. Not to mention fans of The Police and Jazz improvisation. Easily one of the year’s best releases at NativeDSD.
Jazz Fusion (Brian Moura)
Dialogue€18,99 – €30,99
Egri-Pluto Basses with Tzumo Arpad Olah
Hunnia Records – HRES1109
Here is a unique Jazz Fusion album from the Egri-Pluto Basses – a Jazz Quintet fronted by not one but two Bass players (Janos Egri and Jozsef Pluto Horvath) plus a Guitarist, Keyboardist, and a Drummer along with a guest appearance by Tzumo Arpad on Synth (Track 9). They play 10 original songs on the album with the two Bass musicians firmly in the lead. The recording is excellent, and the album really cooks as each member is given a chance to show off their musical chops.
File Under Zawinul: The Music of Weather Report
File Under Zawinul (Music of Weather Report)€18,99 – €30,99
Hunnia Records – HRES1201
The title of this album says it all. File Under Zawinul is a tribute to the music of Joe Zawinul, the leader and co-founder of the Jazz Fusion group Weather Report. The Syndicate is an 8-member band that Zawinul formed after the breakup of Weather Report. On what would have been Zaminul’s 80th birthday, members of the band recorded an album of songs – all written by their inspirational leader. The album is clearly influenced by his music and will bring back fond moments and memories of this Jazz Fusion giant.
Opera (Bill Dodd)
Verdi: Otello [Double Album]€20,99 – €37,49
London Symphony and Chorus, Sir Colin Davis, Simon O’Neill (tenor), Gerald Finley (bass-baritone), Anne Schwanewilms (soprano)
LSO Live – LSO0200D
Amazing reviews from respected sources single out Finley and O’Neill in their roles, and an exciting, dramatic performance conducted by Sir Colin Davis. This is a top choice for Verdi’s Otello!
Purcell: Dido & Aeneas
Purcell: Dido & Aeneas€17,99 – €30,99
Fleur Barron, Matthew Brook, Giulia Semenzato, Tim Mead, Nicky Spence, La Nuova Musica, David Bates
Pentatone – PTC5187032
A full 3-act dramatic opera in an hour? Yes! And it works! If you have doubts about being attracted to a baroque opera performance, I recommend you listen to the samples. It’s lively and involving.
Remembering Tebaldi€17,99 – €34,49
Melody Moore, Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Lawrence Foster
Pentatone – PTC5187070
Renata Tebaldi (1922-2004) was one of the great sopranos of her era. This tribute album from Melody Moore, supported by Lawrence Foster conducting the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra, highlights 14 arias long associated with Tebaldi. Here’s a portion of a review from Goran Forsling and MusicWeb International: “It evokes memories of ‘la voce d’angelo’ (the voice of an angel), Renata Tebaldi’s soubriquet, but, more importantly, it presents Melody Moore in her own right as a worthy inhabitant in the Pantheon of the present generation of sopranos. With first class support from the Transylvanian State Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra under veteran conductor Lawrence Foster, himself of Romanian ancestry, this is a disc that can be strongly recommended to all opera lovers.
Big Band & Swing (Brian Moura)
When Lights Are Low
When Lights Are Low€19,99 – €30,99
Coquette Jazz Band with Frank Roberscheuten
Hunnia Records – HRES1915
This album was a frequent visitor to the NativeDSD Top Sellers List earlier this year. It includes the Austria based Coquette Jazz Band with special guest musician Frank Roberscheuten on Clarinet and Sax. The music is a mix of Swing Jazz from the ‘30s and ‘40s with Dixieland Jazz. With the album’s 16 tracks and over an hour of music you’re bound to find some new favorites here.
Yerba Buena Bounce
Yerba Buena Bounce€17,99 – €30,99
Hot Club of San Francisco with David Grisman & Seth Asarno
Reference Recordings – RR109
Gypsy Jazz is wonderfully captured in this album by The Hot Club of San Francisco with guest artists David Grisman on Mandolin and Seth Asarno on percussion. In addition to performances of the music of Django Reinhardt, the album also features Swing Jazz arrangements of Norman Gimble’s classic Sway, The Beatles I’m Happy Just To Dance With You and the title track Yerba Buena Bounce. It’s an album guaranteed to put a smile on your face as you enjoy the music.
Underground Big Band Reconceptualizations
Underground Big Band Reconceptualizations€18,99 – €30,99
Ádám Meggyes conducts the Nart Orchestra with Sampo Hiukkanen
Hunnia Records – HRES2207
Adam Meggyes and his Nart Orchestra bring together Big Band, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Pop, Rock and Underground Music on their album Underground Big Band Reconceptualizations. It features 4 original compositions that marry the energy of the Nart Big Band Orchestra with an exciting mix of musical styles and genres. The album looks to the future of Big Band Jazz and is a fascinating preview of what is to come.
Let’s Dance (One Microphone Recording)
Let’s Dance (One Microphone Recording)€18,99 – €30,99
Hunnia Records – HRES1729
European Swing Jazz band PapaJazz returned to NativeDSD in 2023 with their album Let’s Dance. Let’s Dance is a One Microphone Recording with an AEA R88 Stereo Ribbon Microphone. It features Big Band favorites including Flying Home and Perdido from the ‘20s,‘30s and ‘40s. Fronted by Clarinet and Sax player Arpad Dennert – a 2021 NativeDSD Album of the Year winner for the album ArpiTalk, Let’s Dance is another winner for Big Band music fans.