Are concert halls the new recording studios?
This could indicate that the center of economic activity in classical music is no longer records but live events. On top, concert halls are the new recording studios and EMI LBO [leveraged buy out] was doomed from the start.That comments was added by Antoine Leboyer to What price Mahler? Now Antoine is one of the few bloggers still writing what he thinks rather than what big music wants him to think and I can't disagree with his point. But the eclipse of the studio by the concert hall as a recording venue has many implications. Live recordings have been around for ages. But how many of your all time favourite discs come from concert recordings? A quick scan across my well-stocked shelves identifies only two, Richter and Gavrilov's Handel Suites and Bruno Maderna's Mahler Nine.
Just recently a musician friend was lamenting the compromised technical, musical and emotional quality of the new generation of orchestra label live recordings. This guy has good ears and he questioned the ability of these live recordings to withstand repeat listening, saying "Fine as a substitute for being at the concert, but not as a substitute for a great studio recording". It is an important point, how many live Mahler recordings will still be in the catalogue almost fifty years after release?
Except for recordings of live performances concert halls, like for example London's Barbican which is used for many LSO Live recordings, are rarely used for sessions for the simple reason they do not have the unique acoustic properties needed for top quality recorded as opposed to concert sound. (One notable exception is Snape Maltings which Britten created as a dual purpose hall, but it is small as a concert venue). So the compromised sonic properties of concert halls coupled with the problem of audience noise (listen to those Handel Suites) opens the door to close miking, digital reverberation and other trickery - heard that one before? It may just be semantics, but I think my headline shouldreally be 'The recording studio is dead, we are going to have to live with concert halls'.
* Header image tells a fascinating story. It is from a wonderful CD by the vocal group Cantica Symphonia titled Stella del nostro mar - Past and present reflections of the Marian inspiration and it was made for the enterprising independent Spanish label Glossa. The disc is remarkable for its glorious juxtaposition of the ancient and modern, with the latter represented by contemporary composers Carlo Galante and Yakov Gubanov. It is even more remarkable because no engineer or producer was present for the sessions in the church in Colletto, Italy. Engineering and production credits go to the group's tenor Giuseppe Maletto who also operated the recording equipment seen in the foreground of the photo. Let me hasten to add that there is no compromise at all in the quality of the music making or sound. Stella del nostro mar is quite one of the most ravishing discs I have heard for a long time, helped I am sure by the distant position of the microphones seen in the photo and the long takes mentioned in the excellent accompanying booklet . So is it goodbye Concert halls are the new recording studios and hallo Musicians are the new production team?
Now this could seriously disrupt the recording ...
Stella del nostro mar was bought from Prelude Records. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk