Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Jan Gunnar Hoff is a well known jazz pianist, composer and ensemble leader, not only in his native Norway but internationally, having played with some of the big names on the contemporary music scene. I had the pleasure of reviewing a previous 2L release, Quiet Winter Night, which proved to be an enjoyable listening experience. This new offering, Living, is Hoff’s first foray into the world of solo recitals. The fourteen track playlist has a dozen Hoff originals with a traditional Norwegian hymn (A eg veit met eit land or my homeland so dear) and, Karylgash (Swallow), a composition by late Kazakh composer Akhmet Zhubanov. All tracks are listed below:
- Mirror I
- Mountain High
- Coming My Way
- Mirror II
- Fly North
- Valse de Decembre
- A eg veit meg eit land
Throughout this varied program, there are contemplative numbers like “Florence”, and up-tempo ones like “Mirrors II.” Hoff’s musicianship is effortless although most of these pieces are not as much about technical challenge as about communication.
I have yet to hear a 2L (Lyndberg Lyd) disc that does not have excellent sound, and Living is no exception to this rule. This is clearly the result of the recording venue, Oslo’s Sofienberg Church, and the use of the highest current resolution, 352.8kHz/24-bit DXD, albeit mixed down to 192kHz/24-bit in both LPCM two-channel and 5.1 dts HD Master Audio versions. Both versions are terrific, although the multichannel recording has noticeably more ambience. There are lower resolution options for listening on a networked computer.
There is a nice set of liner notes about the pianist and these compositions and a six-minute video of Hoff playing a selection from this playlist. This latter extra also shows you the recording set-up in the church and helps to understand how the 2L audio engineers made this great sounding Blu-ray. Even more importantly, 2L supplies an excellent multichannel SACD, and the multiple audio formats, noted in the specifications as a great bonus .
The Definitive Word
This is a lovely disc filled with music with will soothe every listener’s soul. There is a continuing sense of improvisation, and yet, there is never a moment where you are not aware of an overarching structure to each piece. Throughout the recital, I heard shades of George Winston, Dave Brubeck, and other contemporary music pianists. Of course, there is a major dose of Hoff’s individual voice that will keep us wanting more of such discs in the future.