A recent post by Gail Fischler at her Piano Addict blog triggered some thoughts in my brain. (Thanks, Gail, for your thought-provoking article!) Since my thoughts turned out to be only slightly related to Gail’s post, I decided to talk about them here rather than in a comment on her blog.
(In other words, how could I leave a comment when this is something else?)
The commonality between the two involves recording and listening.
I have always been a Jacqueline du Pré groupie. So when I came across a review of the du Pré/Daniel Barenboim recording of the Beethoven cello sonatas several years ago, I paid attention.
The reviewer talked about an excessive amount of audience noise on the recording, strongly implying that “don’t purchase this recording” was his conclusion. So I stopped there.
A little while later, the A Major sonata from this recording was broadcast on the radio. I happened to be home at the time. I was completely blown away, starting with du Pré’s first entrance. In fact, I couldn’t move until several minutes after the piece was over.
Not only was this a stunning live performance, the only audience noise was the result of one person coughing only one time, very slightly.
Perhaps that was an unacceptable amount of noise for the reviewer, but I wonder whether he was listening to the music or only to the recording values. I ran out and purchased the recording immediately.
If there is a conclusion to this story, it is “Don’t believe everything you read!”
A website in tribute to Jacqueline de Pré
by Miguel Muelle
Another take on the subject of recording noise involves the recordings of Enrico Caruso. Here my conclusions are different. But then, I had only experienced recordings of Caruso played on advanced equipment.
I never “got” what all the hoopla was about with Caruso’s voice. That is, I never “got” it until the day a voice teacher played a Caruso recording on a Victrola, the machine it was made for. What a difference! Yes, the sound was scratchy, but somehow the unique qualities of his voice became clear. I could hear what many singers and fans apparently already knew.
What do you listen for in a recording? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
While you’re here, please read about my new E-book! “Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer” ~ making steady progress without getting stuck!