Video: Peter Qvortrup and Vincent Bélanger launch Audio Note Music at Montreal Audio Fest

Audio Note UK levelled it’s latest salvo at the mainstream audio industry during this year’s Salon Audio Montreal by launching Audio Note Music. The first album from the new label is Pure Cello, a 2×45 rpm LP, and CD by noted Canadian cellist Vincent Bélanger. The LP was recorded in a chapel on the grounds of the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut which is renowned for its acoustics, and signifies the British hardware manufacturer’s intention to continue to go against industry norms.

Peter Qvortrup – Audio Note UK chief – said part of the idea behind the label, and Bélanger’s choice of material for the album was to “try, and bring music to people that they wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity to hear… I think also what it does is help level the playing field against the record industry.”

Peter Qvortrup (left), and Vincent Bélanger confer in Montreal at the Hotel Bonaventure.
“All they do is record repertoire that’s been recorded over, and over, and over again ad nauseam.” A practice which Qvortrup thinks is riskier than doing new, or unrecorded material because individual versions become lost. “How many copies of Brahms Symphony No. 1 do you need?  How many copies of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6? This is the problem with a ‘capitalist’ model that we have, which basically says what a ‘free market’ produces is diversity. But when you look at the free market it produces nothing that looks even remotely like diversity. It is more, and more, and more of the same,” said Qvortrup.

Major record labels are only interested in market share, and lack the imagination to produce truly diverse content that could steer the market away from a pack mentality, said Qvortrup.  He feels music is universal, and that regardless of what language you speak, it is capable of creating a shared visceral, emotional experience. Bélanger is thrilled with the album, and hopes people will further cement their connection to music through his work. “Classical music is not what people think. Classical music is about details, classical music is about feelings, descriptions – stories… [this album] it’s the colour of the cello.”

Vincnet Bélanger accompanied by a full Audio Note UK system in Montreal.
The LP, and CD were played through an all Audio Note UK system in Montreal which featured a Jinro stereo integrated amplifier (based around the 211 output valve, approx. $28,000 USD, $38,000 CAN), TT-2 DeLuxe turntable ($2,750 USD, $3,675 CAN) with an Arm Three ($1,750 USD, $2,340 CAN), and IO2 Red low-output, moving-coil cartridge ($4,000 USD, $5,350 CAN). An M5 RIAA phono pre-amplifier ($TBD), an AN-S8L Step-Up Transformer ($8,500 USD, $11,370 CAN), and a CD 3.1x II CD player ($6,500 USD, $8,690 CAN). Transducers were the mighty Audio Note AN-E SPe/HE Alnico ($23,000 USD, $30,750 CAN). All cabling was Audio Note UK.

Bélanger greeting Montreal show goers before a performance.
Both Scot Hull, and I have written a number of times about the sound of Bélanger’s performance while being accompanied by an Audio Note UK system also playing his work, so I won’t go into as much detail again here. Suffice to say that that this is a demonstration one must truly be present for to fully comprehend just what the experience is capable of wrenching out of one emotionally. Looking around during a performance it’s not uncommon to see listeners with tears streaming down their faces from the impact of the system’s ability to communicate musical performance with such passion.

Pure Cello 2×45 rpm LP.
For more information regarding the LP, or CD, or purchasing Pure Cello, check out Vincent Bélanger’s website HERE.

–Rafe Arnott