Saturday, October 26, 2019

Where have all the great record producers gone?


Previous posts have explained how in his autobiography producer George Martin - famous for masterminding the Beatles' sound - described Icarus by the Paul Winter Consort as " I think, the finest record I have ever made". Listening to Icarus again yesterday on the long sea crossing between Holland and England confirmed that accolade. There was George Martin and in the classical field Walter Legge and Christopher Bishop (EMI), Ray Minshull (Decca), Wilma Cozart Fine (Mercury) and many others. But when did you last see a contemporary producer credited in a classical review? Can you name the producer of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla's acclaimed Weinberg Symphonies without googling?* In today's celebrity-fixated culture do record producers simply lack click bait leverage? Or has Pro Tools relegated the producing function to just another piece of software? Why are acoustically perfect concert halls an obsession when those responsible for the sound on Spotify and every other 'go to' music channel are relegated to anonymity? It is all very puzzling when sound is what matters most in classical music.

* DG's website will not tell you who the producer of the Weinberg Symphonies is. But to save you a few mouse clicks I will explain that the producer was freelancer Vilius Keras who also is credited as engineering one of the symphonies, while the role of executive producer - a conceit introduced from Hollywood into the classical world by Universal Classics - is credited to Ute Fesquet.
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