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Re: [regsaudioforum] Re: Top 10 Greatest Recording Engineers

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  • Uli Brueggemann
    Isn t this also a result of TV and video production? To see a classical concert only from a great distance is quite boring. Thus of course you see some actions
    Message 1 of 77 , Mar 1, 2008
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      Isn't this also a result of TV and video production?
      To see a classical concert only from a great distance is quite boring. Thus of course you see some actions in between, e.g. a solo. The picture zooms to the player and the volume is increased?

      Or isn't it normal that during a pop concert the soloist instruments gets a higher gain to lift them above the average level?

      I guess a classical concert in a concert hall and a produced recording simply are two different events. A conductor does not have the tools available like a sound-engineer/producer and both may have different goals.
      Of course tools can be misused :)

      Uli

      On Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 3:11 AM, Ken Holder <ken_holder@...> wrote:

      At 04:26 PM 3/1/2008, Goran Finnberg wrote:

      But why anyone working professionally would increase the volume of the
      winds during solos and then decrease the gain during ensamble passages
      is beyond my understanding.


      Beyond my understanding as well. Nevertheless
      that's what I hear happening. Give a listen.



    • Goran Finnberg
      ... Hubris? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris Hubris to what? Would you care to tell me WHEN does any musical work sound right? Is that really possible? In
      Message 77 of 77 , Mar 29, 2008
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        REG:

        > I personally would not presume that I had a better idea of how a
        > Mahler symphony should sound than Mahler did himself. I think that
        > attitude is hubris.

        Hubris?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris

        Hubris to what?

        Would you care to tell me WHEN does any musical work sound right?

        Is that really possible?

        In my extensive experience there is NEVER any time when it sounds right
        as this depends on so many factors.

        The hall, the orchestra, placement of the orchestra in the hall, the
        conductor, the humidity, the temperature, the mood of the conductor, the
        mood of the listener, where you sit in relation to the orchestra so on
        ad infinitum.

        Taking any recorded disk of any musical work my opinion is that if you
        let 100 so called critics listen to any disk there is never any firm
        conclusion at all since opinions differ all over the map to be very kind
        about it.

        In fact there is almost never ever any sort of agreement at all whatever
        the point being discussed.

        So what you are writing MUST be just your personal opinion and nothing
        else and hubris has nothing to do with it at all.

        Unless of course it is YOU who thinks that you and only you know exactly
        what is the truth and all us mere mortals are just ignorant and then
        surely it is you that have got hubris indeed.

        I base this on the fact that in your opinion all disks sound to bright
        and omni mics are useless and unless recorded by Blumlein it will in
        fact sound like shit and its a lie that there can be mics on stage and
        they were not in use.

        Hubris indeed, Robert.

        And you are the only one who knows how something should sound.

        In my world there is an endless amount of possibilities and there is no
        need to sulk because if I do not like a specific recording/performance
        but as there is so many then I can always find something to my liking.

        Or simply disregard completely the sound and just listen to the music.

        The Dvorak Cello Concerto by Casals cannot be said to have a sound as
        such, well maybe historic, as anything they tried to do in 1937 have
        very little to do with reality at all in fact.

        BUT the musical performance I like very much.

        As to the sound balance everyone have an opinion and everyone thinks
        that he is right and all the rest of us is wrong.....and what do you do
        if the recording star thinks he knows exactly how a disk should sound?

        Do you tell him that he is just a senile old man that should keep his
        thoughts for himself and go out and play since we will not do as he
        tells us?

        May I suggest that if you were the engineer or producer in this case,
        Robert, you would be quickly removed and someone else put in charge to
        do what the star wants.....since there can only be one dictator and in
        this case it is not you for sure.

        As they say "Speaking ones mind cost nothing" but when you are employed
        in an organization and have to relate to all the rest of humanity who
        all thinks they are right then your voice is just one among many and
        will be ignored since only the STAR VIP person will have his wishes come
        true.

        Most of the decisions that makes a sound recording are never to be told
        upfront to the buying public but one such story WAS told by DECCA chief
        producer John Culshaw in his autobiography:

        Putting The Record Straight

        By John Culshaw

        Secker & Warburg

        ISBN 0-436-11802-5

        Page 213 onwards:

        "Arthur Rubinstein came into London with his family and stayed at the
        Savoy Hotel, where I contacted him soon after his arrival.

        His was a legendary name to me.

        The first recording I ever bought of the Tchaikovksy B flat minor
        Concerto was by Rubinstein, and not long after the war he made a
        stunning recording of Rachmaninov´s Paganini Rhapsody.

        For me, and countless others, Rubinstein was a representative of a
        generation of artists who had been in their absolute prime when we were
        either too young to hear them or prevented from hearing them because of
        the war. It was true that when I thought of Rubinstein it was in terms
        of the big nineteenth century concertos or their equivalent in the solo
        piano repertoire, and I did not associate Mozart with him at all.

        But there was no trace of an advance judgement, let alone a prejudice in
        my mind: the idols of youth tend to remain securely on their pedestals,
        and so the chance of meeting and working with Rubinstein was something I
        anticipated eagerly. I had also read of his interests outside of music:
        his love of painting and literature, which suggested that he was one of
        the few performing artists who had come to terms with the fact that
        there is more to music than just music.

        What followed was, for me, shattering. By that time I had been working
        in music for about thirteen years and had met and worked with many of
        the major artists of the time. I hope I was never arrogant, but equally
        I had no cause to be obsequious. It was enough to be respectful and
        professional, and to count ´sone privilege in working with such people
        in private.

        When I first telephoned to make myself known to Rubinstein I felt
        encouraged by the practicality of his replies. I had offered to bring a
        car to the Savoy to take him to the first session, but when he asked
        where the hall was and I replied that it was only a short distance he
        suggested it would be easier to meet in the hotel lobby and take a taxi,
        which it certainly was.

        Understandably, he wanted to be assured that the piano of his choice
        would be in place and that a tuner would be standing by. I told him that
        everything was in order.

        Even in conditions of heavy traffic it is a very short ride from the
        Savoy to Kingsway Hall, but in whatever time it took Rubinstein reminded
        me over and over again about two things, the first of which was that he
        was a poor old man (he was seventy-three at the time) and the second
        that every note he played must be audible to HIS audience.

        I did not at once realize the implications of the second remark, but
        they became clear as soon as the sessions began. They meant that he
        wanted the piano to be relentlessly lpod throughout, irrespective of
        dynamics, tone quality, or whatever Mozart might have written for the
        orchestra.

        "I am an old man," he whined to the engineers when I introduced him.
        "Please make me as loud as you can"

        I wondered for a while whether he might be going deaf, in which case it
        would all have been very sad. But he was not; indeed his hearing proved
        to be surprisingly acute for one his age.

        Matters were not helped by his chosen conductor, Josef Krips, although
        it was soon evident why he had been chosen. Krips was nothing if not an
        opportunist. Over the past ten years he had turned down many offers to
        accompany distinguished soloists, but he had a particular reason for
        wanting to work with Rubinstein, and Rubinstein knew it.

        At that stage Krips was the musical director of a respectable American
        orchestra of the second or third division. It would be a coup if Krips
        could persuade Rubinstein to play with that orchestra in the future; it
        would be even better if Rubinstein felt inclined to put in a word for
        Krips with some of the first-division orchestras with which he regularly
        played .

        Rubinstein begged him to keep the orchestra as low as possible and Krips
        duly obliged. The result was an impossible situation for the balance
        engineer, who in those days was recording directly on two tracks and
        could not therefore subsequently "separate" the piano and the orchestra
        to adjust the balance.

        So Rubinstein´s piano came thundering through the piano microphones; but
        if the engineer attempted to get more sound from the orchestra, which
        Krips was suppressing as hard as he could, the effect merely that of
        picking up still more piano from a distance.

        The more we tried to explain that we could only get a reasonably
        balance if the orchestra played normally, the louder Rubinstein played
        and the more Krips subdued the orchestra.

        I gave up; there was nothing else to do.

        On the last session Rubinstein brought along one of his children, who
        was obnoxious enough to comment that there wasn't enough piano.

        This was finally too much for the normally taciturn first engineer,
        Kenneth Wilkinson, who inquired coldly, "Enough for what?"

        And at no point throughout the four sessions was there any mention about
        Mozart.

        Mercifully, there was very little editing, for Rubinstein´s choice
        between two or three different versions of the same passage turned
        entirely on which he considered to be loudest.

        He said that was how his audience wanted to hear him.

        RCA thought otherwise. I wrote a letter more in disappointment than in
        anger to explain what had happened, and to say that no amount of
        technical adjustment of the kind available at that time would make any
        difference.

        Eventually a replay came back to say that they had had to put up with
        with his passion for fortissimo for some years and were prepared to
        accept it in a virtuoso concerto; but they were prepared to write off
        the costs rather than issue the Mozart concertos, now they had heard
        them, and in fact they never appeared.

        Nor, I hardly need to add, did I ever work again with Rubinstein again."

        End page 216 mid side.

        --------------------------

        In 1976 DECCA issued the Beethoven piano concertos with Rubinstein on
        the piano with Barenboim/ London Philharmonic, and one could then read
        how the critics were criticizing the elephantine piano that completely
        drowned the full symphony orchestra.

        --------------------------

        http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Piano-Concerto-No-Emperor/dp/B0007INY30
          
        The "Late" here refers to Rubinstein, not Beethoven. The great pianist
        was nearly ninety when these concertos were recorded. When this cycle of
        Beethoven Concertos was originally released in 1976, the set was
        generally panned by critics. One factor may have been the sound on the
        original LPs: the piano was virtually in your lap, with the orchestra
        far in the background and very poorly mixed. The sound gave the
        impression of a bogged down "arthritic" performance. The audio has been
        greatly improved here. The balance is natural, the orchestral sonority
        is plush.

        --------------------------

        But this time the DECCA engineers had learned about Rubinsteins wish for
        constant fortissimo so this recording was done using multitrack
        equipment so after Mr Rubinsteins death the whole lot was remixed to
        give a much more natural sound balance.

        Now whenever I hear a disk that sounds weird there is a chance that
        somebody truly felt that this IS the way it´s going to sound and
        unfortunately his/her STAR status was such that everyone just went along
        with his/her wishes.

        So much for "Hubris" that I will just forget as promptly as it was
        written by you Robert as it is totally meaningless as regards any music
        disk as there are so many opinons.

        In my opinion you are sitting at home pontificating against anything
        that you don´t like for reasons of your own with not a single clue why
        it might sound the way it does.

        Which has very little to do with balance engineers or producers in most
        cases.

        "Piano in your lap...orchestra far in the background...poorly mixed."

        Was certainly not the doing of the production team at DECCA.

        That I am absolutely certain of.

        No doubt at all of any sort.

        I really wonder if the "sound" experience would be transformed by the
        magic of a single Blumlein pair in this instance, Robert?

        :-)

        Thoughts to ponder in bed.

        --
        Best,

        Goran Finnberg
        The Mastering Room AB
        Goteborg
        Sweden

        E-mail: mastering@...

        Learn from the mistakes of others, you can never live long enough to
        make them all yourself. - John Luther
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