Scarlatti to Silvestri to sound

BBC Radio 3's recent documentary Scott Ross - Harpsichord Rebel prompted a Radio 3 forum link to my photo essay about Scott and the village of Occitan Assas where he lived and recorded. Staying with Scarlatti but moving from harpsichord to piano, I have been very impressed with Lucas Debarque's recording of 52 Scarlatti Sonatas, which, in its own way, ascends to the dizzy heights reached by Scott Ross. 

Particular mention should be made of the sound quality captured by the Sony production team. The recording venue was the acoustically-blessed Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin-Dahlem. This 1930s Protestant Church has been the scene of many, many celebrated recordings from, among other, Karajan and Furtwängler. Another less celebrated but notable disc recorded there which showcases the Dahlem church's superb sound is David Robertson and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin's pioneering 1995 recording of Valentin Silvestrov's Fifth Symphony which I highlighted back in 2008

Classical music's schizophrenic attitude of demanding acoustic excellence in the concert hall while showing minimal interest in the sound quality of recordings puzzles me. As I wrote in 2020, several UK classical critics are vociferous advocates of a 'world-class' concert hall for London. These same critics pass judgement in the Gramophone and elsewhere on the sound quality of classical recordings monitored and mastered on high quality studio equipment. But how 'world-class' are the auditioning audio systems used by these critics?


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