Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)

Adventure Music AM1115 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

Mandolin master Mike Marshall has been recording for more than 30 years on labels large and small. For the last 12 years he’s recorded for Adventure Music, a label he founded with the late Richard Zirinsky. Marshall has played or collaborated with many musicians, including fiddle player Mark O’Connor, guitarist Jerry Douglas, banjoist Béla Fleck, and the Turtle Island Quartet. In 2010, he and classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg recorded their first collaboration, Caterina Lichtenberg & Mike Marshall, and in 2015 they returned with a disc of arrangements of works by J.S. Bach. For Third Journey, the two selected a program of classical, traditional, and modern compositions, each work showing off their virtuosity without being a mere showpiece.

The album gets off to a rousing start with “Elzic’s Farewell,” an Appalachian fiddle tune arranged by Marshall. The chords have a rock’n’roll drive, but the music settles in as Marshall plays the melody, Lichtenberg taking first the bass line and then harmony melodies. They use dynamics to create narrative drive, and trade melodies back and forth with dazzling speed and dexterity.

The duo returns to Bach for the Prélude of his Partita No.3 for Solo Violin. Marshall adds counterpoint, and he and Lichtenberg weave their playing together in sublimely melodic and harmonic interplay. Marshall’s “Cat Got the Mouse” incorporates Irish jigs and Lichtenberg’s “cross picking techniques that she uses from 18th century mandolin masters.” This tune’s chord changes steer it into jazz territory.

Marshall first recorded “Borealis” in 2007, with violinist Darol Anger, for their duo album Woodshop. Here, Marshall and Lichtenberg trade melodies, sometimes at remarkable speed, but keep the main theme out front. Even in fast passages, “Borealis” retains an airy beauty. “Bokeh” has passages of strange, irregular themes that alternate with lines in which the two mandolinists come together, all of it creating tension and release.

Third Journey

While much of the enjoyment of Third Journey comes from hearing two masters displaying their skills, the album also includes a variety of genres of music that keep it from repetitive ostentation. Henry Purcell’s contemplative, relaxing Ground in C Minor shows how well these two musicians lock together. It’s followed by “Queira-Me Bem,” by Brazilian cavaquinho player Waldyr Azevedo. (The cavaquinho, a member of the lute family, is a small, four-stringed Portuguese instrument that looks like a miniature guitar.) The two pieces couldn’t be more different, but the change in tone and pace isn’t abrupt or jarring; such contrasts are typical of the music on Third Journey, and show this duo’s wide-ranging versatility.

The album was recorded at Opus Studios, in Berkeley, California. The instruments were closely miked, and sound is clean, precise, and intimate, the players’ techniques easy to hear. Listening to it brings the feeling of attending a recital in a small hall.

I’ve enjoyed all three of Marshall and Lichtenberg’s collaborations. Marshall has recorded a number of other discs for Adventure, including several with Brazilian musicians. All are worth checking out, but I particularly enjoyed the feeling of the joy of making music that runs throughout Third Journey.

. . . Joseph Taylor