Elgar up close and personal

For a topical example of the curse of close-miking listen to the prominent soloists in Friday's BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the moving Proms performance of The Apostles given by Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé. Microphones may be visible in the 1975 session photo above, but their more distant placement avoided the artificial and fatiguing sound that characterises more modern productions. Elgar up close and personal or Elgar laid-back and natural? - I know which I prefer. The photo shows EMI's Kingsway Hall sessions with Sir Adrian Boult, the New Philharmonia Orchestra and London Philharmonic Choir for The Dream of Gerontius. Staying with matters spatial, those 1975 Gerontius sessions were captured in both stereo and quadraphonic sound, and my LPs are encoded in the EMI/CBS stereo compatible SQ format. Assuming the four channel master still exists in the EMI vaults, there is an opportunity for an enterprising label to sub-license and issue it using one of the new generation multi-channel formats such as SACD. Now Gerontius - that is a sublime masterpiece.

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Your "artificial and fatiguing" phrase reminded me of a TED talk, "Ten Things You Didn't Know About Sound" by Julian Treasure. His point concerns audio compression and the notion it can make you tired. There's a world of stuff we don't empirically know about how just the audio can affect us, much less music in general.

"Compressed music makes you tired. However clever the technology and the psychoacoustic algorithms applied, there are many issues with data compression of music, as discussed in this excellent article by Robert Harley back in 1991. My assertion that listening to highly compressed music makes people tired and irritable is based on personal and anecdotal experience - again it's one that I hope will be tested by researchers."
Pliable said…
Pliable said…
"There are so many things we can do if we focus on antiknowledge, or what we do not know" - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Gavin Plumley said…
One hopes the Hallé's concerts in Manchester were captured in a more natural manner...
Pliable said…
Gavin, I should be acquainted with the Hallé Bridgewater recordings of the oratorios, but have to confess I am not. Simply because the Boult recordings serve so well. But they are there, some way down my wish list.

I have made a vow to stay off the subject of BBC Radio 3. But as you have raised the subject I have to comment on the continuing technical errors. The latest was the glaring imbalance between the level of continuity announcements and music on the BBC Four relay of Andrew Manze's Vaughan Williams Prom. Sadly the music wasn't much better....

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