James Matheson (2016)


Color Field Quartet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Laura Strickling, Thomas Sauer

Esa-Pekka Salonen

The story of this recording begins with James Matheson’s Violin Concerto, which he wrote for violinist Baird Dodge and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen as a commission from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This album includes the concerto’s premiere performance in Chicago on the evening of December 15th, 2011, with Esa- Pekka Salonen leading the CSO with Baird Dodge as soloist.1 Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti enthusiastically supported the release of this recording. Martin Chalifour, another prized Yarlung musician, performed the West Coast premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado in 2012.

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Color Field Quartet

Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Baird Dodge and a few friends created Color Field, a flexible ensemble that can morph between two instruments and a small chamber orchestra to play repertoire musically interesting and challenging to the musicians.  For our concert and recording sessions, Color Field was Baird Dodge and Gina Dibello on violins, Weijing Wang on viola and Yi Xin on cello.  Baird, Gina and Weijing are all members of Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Baird serves as principal second violin), and Yi Xin sometimes plays cello in the orchestra for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  If anyone doubts his operatic lyricism, they need only listen to the sensitive approach Yi takes to his “aria” in the first movement of Matheson’s quartet.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts was so pleased with Color Field's talent and professionalism during their first performances in Samueli Theater that he invited Color Field to open Segerstrom's chamber music series in the 2018 season.   

The James Matheson String Quartet was commissioned by J and Helen Schlichting.  Here are J’s thoughts on the magic of this collaboration with Baird and with Jim: 

“Although this recording celebrates the wonderful music of James Matheson, Baird Dodge was the secret force that enabled the whole enterprise to reach fruition.  The Violin Concerto was written for him.  He played the premiere performance that is memorialized here.  A streamed recording of that performance that was briefly available on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website was what convinced me to pursue Jim for our first commissioning project.  Baird is a key player in Color Field, the wonderful quartet who perform Jim's piece brilliantly in this recording.  Baird and I enjoy the serendipity involved in projects like this, the collision of happy and odd events, often over a long period of time, that magically result in a wonderful work of art.  But serendipity by itself is not enough.  A 'special sauce' is needed to bring it all together.  From my view, Baird is just that.  Thank you, Baird.”

Photo: Cooper Bates 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) celebrated its 125th anniversary during its 2015/16 season, and continues to be consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world.  Founded in 1891 by its first music director, Theodore Thomas, the CSO’s other illustrious music directors include Frederick Stock, Désiré Defauw, Artur Rodzinski, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim and current music director Riccardo Muti. From 2006 to 2010, Bernard Haitink served as principal conductor, the first in CSO history. Pierre Boulez was appointed principal guest conductor in 1995 and was named Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus in 2006. Celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma was appointed the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant in 2010. 

The renowned musicians of the CSO command a vast repertoire that spans from Baroque to new music. They annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago, and, since 1936, in the summer at the Ravinia Festival. The CSO also tours nationally and internationally. Since its first tour to Canada in 1892, the Orchestra has performed in 29 countries on five continents during 59 international tours. Whether at home or on tour, tickets to CSO concerts are always in high demand and frequently sold out.

Since 1916, recording has been significant in establishing the Orchestra’s international reputation, with recordings by the CSO earning a total of 62 Grammy awards. In 2007, the CSO launched an independent label, CSO Resound, on which it has released 16 recordings; the most recent is with Muti in September 2015: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique and Lélio. The 2010 release of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem—Muti’s first recording with the CSO—was recognized with two Grammy awards.

Listeners and fans around the world can hear the CSO in weekly airings of the CSO Radio Broadcast Series, which is syndicated on the WFMT Radio Network and online at CSO.org/Radio.

Annually, the CSO engages more than 200,000 people of diverse ages, incomes and backgrounds through the innovative programs of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO. These include concerts for children, families and school groups; curricula and programs for teachers and community groups; and low-cost and free rehearsals and performances, including a free annual CSO concert led by Muti. 

Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Laura Strickling

Praised by The New York Times for her, “flexible voice, crystalline diction, and warm presence,” soprano Laura Strickling has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Ravinia Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Berkshire Choral International, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Trinity Church on Wall Street, Washington National Cathedral, Galapagos Art Space, Opera America Center, Dankhaus Chicago, and the inaugural season of Liederfest in Suzhou, China. A devoted recitalist, she is on the artist roster of the Brooklyn Art Song Society and Vox 3 Collective, and has appeared with Joy in Singing, Trinity Concerts at One, the Half Moon Music Festival, and SongFusion.

An alumna of the Berkshire Opera Company Resident Artist Program, Ms. Strickling’s operatic roles include Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Mimi (La boheme), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Micaëla (Carmen), and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte).   

Her past concert performances include Messiah (Handel), Requiem (Brahms), Luonnotar (Sibelius), Ninth Symphony (Beethoven), Les Illuminations (Britten), Requiem (Mozart), Gloria (Vivaldi), Lord Nelson Mass (Haydn), the U.S. premiere of selections from Canti di Pesoa (Riccardi), and the world premieres of Bernard Rands’ Folk Songs and Glen Roven’s The Vineyard Songs and Six Ancient Chinese Songs. Her performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Exsultate Jubilate with the Cathedral Choral Society in Washington, DC was broadcast by classical radio station WETA.

Her competition honors include First Prize and “Audience Favorite” prize in the 2015 Rochester Oratorio Society's Classical Idol Competition, First Prize and the “Franz Liszt Prize” in the 2013 Liszt-Garrison International Competition, as well as prizes and honors in the Positively Poulenc! Competition, the Schubert Club Competition, the Liederkranz Competition, the Washington International Competition, the Joy in Singing Competition.

A Chicago native, Laura Strickling is an avid traveler, having lived in Fez, Morocco, where she studied classical Arabic, and Kabul, Afghanistan, where her husband was the chair of the Department of Law at the American University of Afghanistan. She currently resides in New York City and St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands. For further information, visit www.laurastrickling.com. 

Photo: Cooper Bates

Thomas Sauer

Pianist Thomas Sauer is highly sought after as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher.  Some of Mr. Sauer’s recent appearances include concerto performances with the Quad-City and Tallahassee Symphonies and the Greenwich Village Orchestra; solo performances at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium), Merkin Concert Hall, Rockefeller University, and St. John’s College, Oxford; appearances on Broadway as the pianist in 33 Variations, a play about the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations; and performances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.  With his long-time duo partner Colin Carr, Mr. Sauer has appeared at the Wigmore Hall (London), Holywell Music Room (Oxford), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Musikgebouw, Bargemusic (New York City), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), and Princeton University, among many other venues.  Other appearances include recitals with Midori at the Philharmonie in Berlin and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels; performances with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress in Washington DC; and numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet.

Mr. Sauer has performed at many of the leading festivals in the United States and abroad, including Marlboro, Caramoor, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, El Paso Pro Musica, and the Chamber Music Festivals of Seattle, Taos, Four Seasons (North Carolina), Portland and Salt Bay (Maine); as well as Lake District Summer Music (England) and Festival des Consonances (France).  

Mr. Sauer’s varied discography includes recordings of Beethoven and Haydn piano sonatas for MSR Classics; the complete cello and piano works of Mendelssohn with Colin Carr on Cello Classics; a disc of Hindemith sonatas with violist Misha Amory (Musical Heritage Society); music of Britten and Schnittke with cellist Wilhelmina Smith on Arabesque; music of Ross Lee Finney with violinist Miranda Cuckson on Centaur Records; and violin sonatas of Mozart with Aaron Berofsky on Blue Griffin Recordings. James Matheson represents Sauer’s debut on the Yarlung Label.  

In recent seasons, Mr. Sauer has premiered works by Philippe Bodin, Robert Cuckson, Sebastian Currier, Keith Fitch, David Loeb, Donald Martino, and David Tcimpidis.

A member of the music faculty of Vassar College and the piano faculty of the Mannes College, Mr. Sauer is the founder and director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute.  His major teachers included Jorge Bolet, Edward Aldwell, and Carl Schachter.

Photo: Cooper Bates

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen reignited the music scene in Los Angeles when he assumed the Music Directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Esa-Pekka helped move the orchestra into Walt Disney Concert Hall where Yarlung has had the privilege of making several recordings.  Martin Chalifour plays Esa-Pekka’s Lachen verlernt on Martin’s second CD, Martin Chalifour and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.   As Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote, "Salonen turned the Los Angeles Philharmonic into the most intellectually lively orchestra in America. … the metamorphosis of the Philharmonic was Salonen’s doing, and he thereby gained a place among the visionary conductors of American musical history."

On Yarlung’s latest release, James Matheson, Esa-Pekka conducts the Matheson violin concerto with soloist Baird Dodge and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Esa-Pekka Salonen has a restless innovation that marks him as one of the most important artists in classical music. The Boston Globe has said that he displays "a kind of complete musicianship rarely encountered today.” Salonen is currently the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and the Conductor Laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was Music Director from 1992 until 2009. 

Trained in the austere world of European modernism and enjoying a close relationship with the sunny city of Los Angeles where he chooses to make his principal home, Salonen composes works that move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. 

Photo: Katja Tahja

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James Matheson (2016)


Color Field Quartet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Laura Strickling, Thomas Sauer

    The Absolute Sound

"Another wonderful DSD recording is the recently released album of James Matheson’s compositions on Yarlung Records, downloaded in double-DSD from the website nativedsd.com. The album includes Matheson’s String Quartet, recorded late last year at Samueli Theater, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. I was fortunate to have attended a later Yarlung recording session in this hall. The recording was made in quad-DSD (DSD256) and is available for download in that format, but I was able to listen only to the DSD128 version because the Aurender W20 doesn’t currently support DSD256. In DSD128, the string quartet was rendered by the PDP 3000 HV with exceptional vitality and timbral realism. The PDP 3000 HV’s dynamic alacrity and visceral quality described earlier beautifully conveyed this music’s unusual rhythmic flow. The album includes a piece for piano and soprano called Times Alone that was stunning in every way: the timbre and dynamics of the piano, the palpability and purity of the soprano, and the way that the instruments were presented spatially within the acoustic."

Robert Harley of The Absolute Sound [read full review]


"There were engineers setting up mikes for an ultra-high quality DSD (Direct Stream Digital) recording, a surround sound recording, the first-ever commercial SonoruS Holographic Imaging recording (which renders an incredible 3D listening environment from a pair of properly configured speakers), and we were also recording to tape. As in analog tape. Because Bob was scheming to release the entire project on vinyl also."

James Matheson[read full review]


"…Matheson is a highly interesting composer whose work genuinely seeks to reach out to audiences, and this recording is as good an introduction to (or exploration of) the forms in which he works as anyone is likely to offer. "

Mark Estren[read full review]

    The Whole Note

"It’s a striking work with a virtuoso role for the soloist and some terrific orchestration."

Terry Robbins[read full review]


"Matheson combines instruments in a way that gives rise to wonderful colors."

Uwe Krusch[read full review]

    The Absolute Sound

(...) All of Matheson’s music has a bold, cinematic flair. His writing for solo violin is highly idiomatic and virtuosic; the orchestral contribution is extravagantly colorful. Matheson employs an advanced tonal syntax and confidently cites other styles as he makes his argument: the central Chaconne of the Concerto references the slow movement from Mahler’s Sixth Symphony and the energetic finale strongly suggests bluegrass. (...) The concerto recording scales the solo instrument correctly and the orchestral sonority is luminous. Times Alone captures the impressive dynamic power of soprano Laura Strickling and massive, dimensional piano sound.

Andrew Quint[read full review]

    Positive Feedback

"James Matheson is a composer new to me, I’ll confess. I first became aware of him when my good audio friend and master producer/recordist at Yarlung Records, Bob Attiyeh, contacted me and said that I had to check out his new Quad DSD recording, James Matheson, transferred from the original SonoruS 15 IPS half-track 1?4” tape via the superlative Merging Technologies Hapi Quad DSD analog-to-digital converter. What can I say? Bob’s recommendations are gold with me. And so I did so. I was very much taken by Matheson’s work in this exceptional recording, which is a collection of his compositions. The third track is the third and concluding movement of his String Quartet, entitled “Quick, breathless.” It certainly is! Coming at you like an oncoming train, this movement drives you with its collection of staccatos, dissonances, and musical tensions. I am still reflecting on what I experience as I listen to Matheson, especially in his compositions for strings. This album was a very pleasant surprise for me; I think that it will be for you, as well. Try something new!" - from the booklet of the album NDSD006 'Positive Feedback DSD Sampler'

David W. Robinson

    Juliana Hall - composer

Just downloaded the new recording of music by James Matheson from Native DSD Music. I am especially interested to hear his song cycle and its performance by soprano Laura Dixon Strickling and pianist Thomas Sauer - this is really GREAT!!! Beautiful, imaginative music...energetic, clear, attentive piano playing...and really stellar singing by Laura...incredibly powerful, high notes, and such a well-developed interpretation. I don't know the songs well, but it's clear she has thought through these texts, and with Sauer has crafted a very assured, effective, and moving performance. The album is available for download from NativeDSD Music, which provides extremely high-quality audio files. Congratulations Laura, Thomas, James, and Yarlung Records' Bob Attiyeh - lovely music, beautiful performances, and an extremely well-done production.

Juliana Hall[read full review]

    Stereophile Magazine

Tom Caulfield, a Grammy-winning recording engineer who has worked for Channel Classics and other labels, recently sent me a multichannel DSD256 file from a session with Color Field, a group comprising musicians of the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony, for a recording of James Matheson's String Quartet, to be released in June 2016 on Yarlung Records. The opening notes were startling — I had the disturbing but exhilarating feeling that music was actually being made in my room, not merely reproduced. The sound was no more "multichannel" than it was "stereo" — the four players seemed almost within reach, and my room seemed to expand around me. Caulfield had included a few photos of the session, held at the Segerstrom Center, in Costa Mesa, California. When I looked at them — by George, that's exactly what I'd heard. Not only was I completely transfixed: I kept thinking, If others could only hear this, hi-rez multichannel music would take off.

Kal Rubinson[read full review]

James Matheson (2016)


Color Field Quartet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Laura Strickling, Thomas Sauer

Digital Converters:

Hapi for stereo and SonoruS Holographic Imaging
Horus for 5.0 surround sound


AKG C-24 for String Quartet, 2x AKG C-12VR for Times Alone, and 2 additional Schoeps M222 mics for SonoruS Holographic Imaging mixes for String Quartet and Times Alone.  5x DPA 4006A mics for 5.0 Surround Sound for String Quartet and Times Alone.  

Producer: Bob Attiyeh
Recording Engineer:

Bob Attiyeh, stereo; Tom Caulfield, 5.0 Surround Sound; Arian Jansen, SonoruS Holographic Imaging
We recorded the stereo version of the James Matheson String Quartet using an AKG C-24 stereo microphone from Ancona Audio, with a special new-old-stock RCA 6072 vacuum tube in it supplied and calibrated by David Bock, Yarlung’s microphone technician. We used two of Ancona's AKG VR C-12 microphones to record Times Alone. We chose an Elliot Midwood vacuum tube microphone preamplifier for the String Quartet and a Messenger microphone preamp for the song cycle.  We fed the signal into our Merging Technologies Hapi converter to record DSD256 using Pyramix Software. 

Christopher Willis recorded Jim’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in their lauded home on Michigan Avenue. Yarlung’s Arian Jansen mixed the PCM digital multi-track concerto recording using the SonoruS Holographic Imaging processor to create our stereo mix.  
Yarlung designed our interconnects. Power cords for our most sensitive analog equipment were made for us personally by Gary Koh from Genesis Advanced Technologies.  Digital components used power cords from Aural Symphonics. Stereo formats were monitored on speakers from Genesis Advanced Technologies.  

SonoruS Holographic Imaging
Using our two principal microphones from the String Quartet and song cycle, and adding two additional mid-hall Schoeps M222 vacuum tube microphones, Arian Jansen fed into the SonoruS Holographic Imaging processor to create a 2 channel mix that uses a proprietary matrix incorporating phase, timing and EQ information from the four microphones to reproduce a three-dimensional listening experience from two speakers.   Arian captured this Holographic Imaging version using his SonoruS ATR12 analog tape recorder using EMTEC 528 broadcast tape which we then converted from the analog tape using the Merging Technologies Hapi converter at DSD256fs.  Arian mixed Christopher’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra tracks into two Holographic Imaging tracks as well.   
Additional information about SonoruS Holographic Imaging: with the correct playback setup, this format can fill the room with musical information, with sound coming from up to 270 degrees around the listening position.  Holographic Imaging only works for one person in that exact listening position, however, and it only works if every component in the playback chain is phase coherent.  Please don’t be offended if your super-expensive system cannot accurately reproduce the holographic effect.  Not all premium audiophile systems are designed to incorporate this degree of phase representation.  Please download our Holographic Imaging test track first to determine if your system can accurately portray the signal circling around your listening position.   If it can, enjoy! If it cannot, we recommend the stereo or surround sound versions of this album instead.  The test tracks are available at www.yarlungrecords.com/sonorus

NativeDSD mastering engineer Tom Caulfield came from Boston to record Times Alone and Jim’s String Quartet in 5 channel surround sound using five DPA 4006A microphones.   Tom built a carbon fiber array to hold the microphones which takes inspiration from a standard Decca Tree with three forward microphones and two additional surround microphones about twelve feet to the rear.   Tom fed these microphones directly into his Merging Technologies Horus converter to record in 256DSD. We utilized Arian Jansen’s mix of the Violin Concerto to create a 5 channel surround sound version



Recording location: Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa Califo
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD256

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This album is available as ST+MCH download (Stereo + Multichannel)
Before buying SonoruS Holographic Imaging files, please click HERE to test your system for capability.
For albums, lower DSD bit rates (128 and/or 64) are available at no surcharge. This does not apply for DXD selection.
Album Download duration price
YAR25670DSD: James Matheson
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String Quartet - Taught, energetic
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String Quartet - Slowly
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String Quartet - Quick, breathless
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Violin Concerto - Caprice
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Violin Concerto - Chaconne
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Violin Concerto - Dance
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Times Alone - I have walked along many roads
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Times Alone - Last night, as I was sleeping
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Times Alone - Clouds ripped open
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Times Alone - The wind, one brilliant day
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Times Alone - Is my soul asleep?
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