Violinist/Violist and composer Sarah Wallin-Huff’s pieces are built upon an underlying framework, from which her enigmatic works fluidly evolve. She refers to a common thread linking them together as a “stream-of-consciousness composition” delivering a range from solo works, chamber ensembles, to orchestral concert pieces. Released in August 2017 her album Paroketh’s Veil contains six works that refers to the Four Elements she defines from the word Paroketh (PRKTh): Peh (Water), Resh (Air), Kaph (Fire), and Tau (Earth).
CBTTF Records has released the album “Paroketh’s Veil” on both DVD and Blu-ray formats with the Blu-ray containing a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 24bit / 96kHz version along with an LPCM 2.0 version utilizing the Uncompressed Jecklin Disk technique, and bonus Featurette Video (1080P 16x9). The DVD-Audio disc contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 codec, plus the video, and the Blu-ray is reviewed here.
Wallin-Huff has toured extensively and is a member of the Orange County Symphony, has performed as Concertmaster of the Southern California Philharmonic, and is currently the concertmaster for the Santa Clarita Philharmonic. Fans can hear her performing on both electric and acoustic violin and viola on a variety of recording projects.
Opening with the piece “Weeping Willow” both Sarah Wallin-Huff and Jennifer Walton’s violins dominantly swell up in the front left and right channels. Their distinct clarity lends to a sense of listening from a few feet away with a lovely richness where every nuance is so clearly defined. Their parts intertwine as their violins integrate across the front. Wan-Chin Chang’s piano soars from the front center channel with a darkness that characterizes the mood so freely. These parts and the remaining instrumentation which includes Cello, Clarinet, and Flute reverberate off the mid back speakers with slight reflections emanating from the very back in this 7.1 mix.
“Forgotten Melody” is very memorable with a sweet movement that progresses throughout the piece. Piano stretches between the left and center channels, while violins fills the space in the right. It is the third piece “The Oracle” that is the crème de la for me with its incredible depth and creative complexity. Dynamics take deep hold here with sudden bursts and calming moments. I really hear the room when flute and clarinet parts elevate along with the brilliant staccato keyboard hits. There are moments when time seems to fall apart and then strings back together in a wonderful interplay among the musicians. I find there is plenty of space among the parts, just don’t expect this to be a discrete immersive mix. Rather as one would expect, elements are placed across the front channels with exceptional use of the room ambience in the mid and far back channels.
“The Roses and Lilies” takes the aural experience to a new level with the choir appearing to soar from the far back speakers. Sopranos fly from the front center channel while the balance of the strings, winds and piano fall across the front and emanate from the mid back channels. A truly immersive surround mix that places the listener snuggly up front with plenty of space for all parts to fall around the large room.
There is a vast difference between the 7.1 multi-channel and 2.0 stereo mixes, with the most obvious aspect being the flattening of the soundstage. What is more dramatic is the congestion heard on the pieces with lots of parts, most evident on the fourth track The Roses and Lilies. Yet, there is an abundant amount of depth to the stereo layer, along with plenty of clarity to enjoy the 2.0 version. Of course, the openness provided by the surround mix is just another example why I am such an enthusiast of multi-channel mixes, and I believe producer James Rael and artist Wallin-Huff has taken advantage of this additional space to create an excellent aural tapestry of the music.
For fans seeking a deeper insight into the composition process, the bonus video interview is well worth watching. Where else would I have discovered that Wallin-Huff has drawn inspiration from structures such as the Tarot.
I am delighted to add this to my collection, and only wish that there was more music on Paroketh’s Veil. A short yet extremely full-filling album that is recommended for chamber music lovers and enthusiasts who seek an intriguing surround listen.