When does a recording become a forgery? How much can be added that wasn't created by the musicians on the label before it is a fake? My post on a 'recreation' of Glenn Gould's 1955 Goldbergs raises some interesting questions, and so does the following story.
By chance I bought last week the excellent transcriptions of Handel's recorder sonatas for cello and harpsichord played by Tatty Theo (cello) and Carolyn Gibley (harpsichord). The girls are part of the local baroque ensemble, The Brook Street Band. The recording was made a few miles from here in Raveningham Church in Norfolk, the label is Avie, and the producer and engineer is Simon Fox-Gál.
Now here is the first interesting point. The sleeve contains the following message: 'Reverberation included in this recording from Classical Reverberations Impulses produced by Ernest Cholakis for Numerical Sound'.
Research reveals the Toronto based Numerical Sound: 'develops low level manipulations of sound's primary elements. Essentially, we deconstruct, analyze and separate sound by recognizing individual events, elements, or spectral properties, and depending on the situation use the resulting components to modify existing sounds or reconstruct new ones. For example, we might separate a tone into its harmonic or partials or percussive components, and then rebuild those elements into something new.'
A number of high profile classical recordings use Numerical Sound's technology, which shapes sounds to pre-determined profiles in a similar way to the Loft Recordings Tournemire project that I wrote about here. The Numerical Sound website includes some musical examples before and after reprocessing.
I don't want this to get out of proportion. Artificial reverberation has been added to recordings for decades (although why it is needed in the acoustics of a church is a puzzle). On the Handel sonatas disc we are told the sound shaping technology has been used for the reverberation only. But this technology can also reshape instrumental sounds, and this is where the story gets very interesting.
Producer and engineer Simon Fox-Gál of the Handel disc is the grandson of the Viennese born composer Hans Gál (photo below), and he has created recordings of his grandfather's orchestral scores using another technology that has featured here before - Vienna Symphonic Library - which synthesizes music using digital samples of real instruments. Here are Fox-Gal's words about the Hans Gál project: ' It's not a real orchestra, but the essence of the music itself is there, time and our imagination being the only limits to the extent to which we can achieve perfection in the smallest of musical details.' You can listen to the 'not a real orchestra' playing Hans Gál's Symphony No 2 here.
Yes, all perfectly above board, and just the wonders of technology. But let's not forget these words - 'He thinks he began editing “ambience” in the late 1980s.'
Now wonder How much is Stravinsky, and how much is Craft?
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