GTA Audiophile Club members and spouses, together with a number of audio industry bigwigs, 38 people in all, were there to celebrate our 9th annual Christmas dinner. We had a blast.
Our annual GTAA Chinese New Year Dinner at one of the best Chinese Restaurants in Richmond Hill, Ming Cuisine. It was a 10-course feast fit for a Monkey King.
Truly a spectacular system consisted of the Magico M Project loudspeakers, one of a 50 pairs made worldwide, weighing in at 400 lbs. each. These behemoths are driven by the Krell Evolution 400e mono block power amps and Marc Levinson Reference Preamp No. 52. Sources are the legendary TechDAS Air Force Two Turntable with air bearing and vacuum disc suction and the TW Acustic Raven Anniversary Turntable. This analog based system is dead quiet, delicate, warm and dynamic at all volume levels. The digital front end with Esoteric P-02 and D-02 with Antelope Rubidium Atomic Clock is no slouch, but can’t touch the analog setup….NICE……but I will have to mortgage my house.
Audiophille Club member Lawrence Lock and I visited Robert Wan of Forthwise Ltd. of Hong Kong, a high-end audio dealer in China and Hong Kong. Forthwise now represents such prestigious brands as Viola Labs, CH Precision, Wilson Benesch, Genesis, Nagra, DarTZeel, Ocean Way, TechDAS, Audio Machina and others.
We heard briefly the 4 tower Genesis 1.2 Dragon Anniversary loudspeakers, each standing 7′ 3″ tall. The 2 bass towers sport a total of 24 x 12 inch woofers and the midrange/tweeter panels are flanked by carbon fibre wings manufactured by The Boeing Company. I have never experienced a system with such grand scale. With over 2,700 square inches of woofer firing at you, trust me, you can hear and feel it. The price, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it….about an average condo in Toronto.
Next we listened extensively to the beautiful Wilson Benesch flagship model Cardinal from the UK. These speakers do not hit you in the chest like the Genesis 1.2, but it envelopes you in layers of sound that is totally transparent and musical. Driven by a 150 watts DarTZeel amp and the always amazing CH Precision C1 transport and D1 DAC, these speakers simply disappear from the room. I can happily live with this system for the rest of my days, only if I can afford it.
How many audiophiles do you know who owns a studio condo with the sole purpose of housing his audio system? Lawrence and I visited Hutch who has a dedicated listening room within a condo unit. The modest 16.5′ x 21.5′ condo is just big enough to house the tall 7′ 9″ Magnepan 20.7 full range ribbon planar speaker panels. The speakers are driven by the highly regarded top of the line Swiss Soulution Series 7 amp, preamp and CD player. The main source is a Transrotor Turntable sitting on a sophisticated Accurion Active Vibration Isolation platform from Germany. As expected from such a setup, the sound is incredibly lifelike and renders each instrument in real space. These planar speakers are particularly impressive with large scale orchestral music as they can magically transport you to the real venue.
The spacious and gracious home of Dr. and Amy Pong. Well known to many of us in the GTAA thanks to Lawrence Lock.
Tatsuki Narita. – violin
Yun-Yang Lee – piano
A thoughtfully constructed program, showcasing each of the musicians as soloists ( Bach for the violin, Liszt for the piano) before launching into Tartini’s “Devil” sonata.
Beethoven’s Kreutzer took up the second half followed by a hair raising, goose bumping encore, Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Suite
The “ex-William Kroll” Guarneri del Gesu of 1738
From its sudden beginning to the very end we are struck by the tone from the violin, warmly communicating every nuance that Bach intended or dreamt.
The dynamically detailed songs, cries, plaints and whispers had the entire crowd totally entranced and , my friends, I wanted to get up and dance!
This was magical playing and I had the uncanny sensation that it was the instrument itself that ached and yearned to tell Bach’s story. Tatsuki was the magician whose arms and fingers barely touching the gut strings did not play but “beckoned and allowed” the violin to tell its tale.
On to Liszt and the warm hearted, Yun-Yang Lee, whose hands, a blur above the keys, belied the utter clarity of his tone.
How many times have we heard this piece? How can we possibly be surprised?
And the answers are “many” and “Yes!”
I have heard more whirlwind versions but none more utterly rhapsodic!
I want to hear more, much more, from this talented and most generous musician.
The first notes of the Kreutzer signalled a more introspective approach, aided by the gut strings and the intertwined accompaniment of the piano.
I went off into a Beethovenian dream, marvelling at the unwavering commitment and the two instruments and two musicians together producing one voice.
The Saraste encore? A day later it still thrills as I expect it will for years to come
More than once during the Carmen Suite and once during the Devil’s Trill when the piano quietly entered as the violin solo ended I regretted the convention of not applauding till a piece is complete.
If this had been a jazz concert, the interruptions of roaring happy approval would have been many and prolonged.
This was a magic concert. The rainbow gracing the program says it all …