Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 04, 2005 0 comments
Sergei Rachmaninov's second piano concerto demands both a virtuoso pianist and a huge, supple orchestral sound. It gets both in this multichannel recording from Deutsche Grammophon, which pairs Lang Lang with a venerable Russian orchestra.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 04, 2005 0 comments
Isn't it a little odd to squeeze a whole symphony orchestra into a living room? The great thing about chamber music is that it's designed to be played in the home, correctly scaled to your personal space. It's best heard live, of course-but, if you can't invite musicians over for tea, the next best thing might be to feed your universal disc player this well-recorded pair of Beethoven chamber works.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 26, 2005 0 comments
Imagine the score for a 33-minute film noir with nonstop action. That's Béla Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin in a nutshell, although it's actually a one-act dance suite. The story concerns three thugs who use a young woman as bait to rob a series of victims, culminating in the Mandarin. They murder him—but not before he consummates his passion for the girl. The plot had enough sex and violence to get it banned immediately upon its 1926 debut in Köln, Germany.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 07, 2005 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 5
Extras: 0
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 04, 2005 0 comments
Even people who know nothing about Brazilian music recognize the urbane Latin syncopation of the bossa nova beat. The language, of course, is Portuguese, not Spanish. The key names in Brazilian pop music are Jobim and Gilberto; in orchestral and chamber music, Villa-Lobos. Arguably, the most alluring voice in Brazilian music today belongs to Rosa Passos, who partners with jazz bassist Ron Carter on this audiophile release.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
From Portland's mouth to your ear.

Aperion makes a big deal out of selling direct. Frankly, this implied criticism of large chain stores has the fishy odor of opportunism. There are many worse places to buy speakers than a huge electronics store. You might, for instance, buy them from the back of a van in a parking lot, as our editors once did. Or you might leave a thick wad of bills on the sidewalk, using a rock as a paperweight, then come back the next day to see if anyone has left any speakers there. When you've exhausted all of those opportunities, call Aperion and say, "Help me, please. I'm not tough enough for the retail environment." You wouldn't be the first.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
A little Danish for your sonic sweet tooth.

Flat-panel TVs—and the speakers that love to be with them—receive such obsessive attention from the press that you'd think all other forms of video display—and the speakers that love to be with them—had disappeared. Jamo has fed the trend with their remarkable 2F speaker system, which teams perfectly with a plasma display. But rear-projection sets are still around. In fact, with DLP-, LCD-, and CRT-based models to choose from, they're taking on slimmer shapes, waxing in both cool factor and diversity.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
Plug in your cable feed and kiss that box goodbye.

I decanted Hitachi's 32HDL51 as though it were a vintage wine—delicately, so as not to stir up the sediment. I didn't want to lose a single one of its 1,049,088 pixels. This 32-incher converts all incoming signals to its native resolution, 1366 by 768, but processes video in the ultra-high-res 1080p format.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
Small-speaker virtuosity trickles down.

Speakers needn't be big. Smaller speakers are better candidates for wall-mounting, they're less-visually intrusive on stands, and they're more-harmonious mates for flat-panel displays.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 15, 2005 0 comments
Close your eyes and count to 80.

Most human beings have 10 fingers and 10 toes. Therefore the number 10 is a big deal to us. We use a base-10 number system, bestow honors in top-10 lists, and think in multiples of 10. So it's inevitable that makers of surround receivers have fixated on the number 100, or 10 times 10. For some of them it's the minimum power-output number allowed on any spec sheet, whether the amplifiers measure anywhere near that level of performance or not. Anything beyond that is likely to be in multiples of five (the fingers of one hand): 105 watts, 110 watts, 125 watts, etc. The more you become aware of this compulsion to express everything as a function of our physical form, the more comic it gets—humans are so self-absorbed. Or am I just projecting?

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