I guess I'm the first to use the term "excited fun". I simply wanted to emphasize that, while I appreciate Moravec's art and musicianship, I don't get excited by his recordings. Probably, there is nothing wrong with himself, but with the actual recordings. You see, I'm a sort of perfectionist in terms of the products (CDs and SACDs). If the recording is not at the hi-end level, I can't be "absorbed" in the listening experience. I hope Supraphon's newly remastered "Nocturnes" might do justice to his pianism and his "true colours".
By all means, I'm very "enthusiastic" about Prazak Quartet. It's one of the very best String Quartets worldwide and their recordings are first rate as for the performances and brilliantly recorded.
Best wishes as ever,
I'm sorry to hear that your appreciation of hi-end recordings interferes with your enjoyment of good music. :-( In terms of the history of recorded music, it seems to me that you are therefore "shutting out" about 95% of it (which strikes me as rather sad...there are many, many wonderful performances out there). Anyway, enjoy your SACDs!
Hi Petra, Hi Parla,
One of the characteristics of much high-end hi-fi has been the elimination of tone controls (in an attempt to achieve the shortest signal path). Whilst this raises few problems for new and/or well-engineered recordings, there are many older recordings that require judicious use of tone controls to reveal their best. Also some CD transfers have been poorly done. This latter issue may be relevant to the discussion of the new Moravec transfers from Supraphon. Whilst many of their earlier CD transfer were fine, several recent ones have been very poor: most recently a 2010 remastering of Karel Ancerl's beautiful recording of Dvorak's New World symphony is absolutely dreadful, requiring maximum use of my quite versatile Quad 99 tone controls to make it listenable at all. The recent Talich transfers are rather poor too. So, for your sakes, I hope they have done a better job with the Chopin Nocturnes.
By the way Petra, I agree with you about Moravec's Brahms concerti - superb.
All the best,
I think you overexaggerate the situation, Petra. By involving hi-end recordings in your listening experience, you don't "shut out" about 95% (!) of the recorded music. Most of more recent recordings plus plenty remastered ones are quite competent for hi-end equipments. That's why my collection is quite vast and keeps growing. SACDs are superior (or sometimes much superior) recordings, but constitute only a small fraction of the overall production worldwide.
My point is that CDs (or SACDs) are products, not the real thing (the live performance). So, when I decide to purchase a product, I want the best possible quality available to safeguard the optimum of the reproduction of the original. If the reproduction is of poor or average or compromised quality, no matter how good is the artist, what we listen to is far from the truth. Of course, we can always guess/imagine how he/she or they sounded in reality, but we don't actually hear it.
I have done a "blind" test of my favourite and most glorious Violin Sonata in A major by Franck. I asked various friends, violinists and pianists, to listen, without knowing who are performing, to 10 different recordings, with huge names and less well-known ones. The final verdict was almost unanimously in favour of a completely marginal recording of an american obscure label, called ProPiano, with two completely unknown female Japanese soloists, namely Yukiko Kamei (Violin) and Chitose Okashiro (Piano). The reason they opted for that performance was that the recording of both instruments was as vivid as it could get, the perfomance shined effortlessly and one could enjoy every possible detail of such a complex and demanding work. ProPiano, as specialised on Piano recordings, had done an excellent job in recreating the role of piano in this amazing Sonata brilliantly, while the violin shined throughout by the luminous writing of Franck and the consistent playing of the soloist.
Anyway, I can assure you I follow a lot the "big" names, but, they give me not too often thrills.
Baiba Skride is not a violinist I have heard from before but her new coupling of the Stravinsky and Frank Martin violin concertos has been in my 'basket' on Amazon for over a week now. The Stravinsky is a difficult work to pull off, it needs humour (which Schneiderhan couldn't find) but don't over do it (as Zehetmair did). Russian humour, quite like Shostakovich's 9th symphony. The coupling of the Martin Violin Concerto is attractive as well, not a work I have heard before but Frank Martin can sometimes be very interesting.
Petra & Parla
I know where you are coming from in a way. I used to have a very fine system when I lived in the UK. However, when I first moved abroad I had to leave it in storage (it would never have survived the trip!) and so, since then, my listening has been almost entirely on simple system I pick up in each new location, plus an ipod with an amplifier and very good headphones.
Yes the sound is not good as the fine systems that many people here have, but I decided it was about the music for me and I will live with the sound. At first it was tough but now I cannot really remember any better. That said I still hope one day to not be living out of a suitcase (effectively) and be able to either ressurection the one system or start again.
Uber - were both or either of these works comissioned by Paul Sacher?
As for the Stravinsky concerto I do like it a lot. There is a pretty good recording with Blacher and Abbado. The Martin I don't know - always ashamed I don't know more of a fellow countryman's music.
Haven't heard Moravec's Brahms concerti (I have too many already!) but agree with Chris about tone controls. There are some recordings, both LP & CD, I can only find satisfactory via my 42 years old or so Rogers valve amp where just a slight adjustment of the tone controls can make all the difference to my listening experience & enjoyment.
Back to Moravec I discovered I have the Chopin Preludes on both VAI & Supraphon. I prefer the former's transfer and am surprised at Parla's comments as I find the Connoisseur recordings on VAI absolutely superb with a lovely rich warm genuine piano sound. I listened last night to his recital on VAI of Mozart's Fantasia, 2 Sonatas, 2 Brahms Intermezzi & a couple of Beethoven miniatures and thought the sound glorious. The Nocturnes are Warner group originals; not Connoisseur Society recordings, according to the copyright info on the Moravec Philips Great Pianists issue.
Parla must lose out on some tremendous musical experiences, particularly in the piano literature, if he cannot tolerate historic recordings which if properly transferred to CD with minimal or zero computer processing can sound far better today than ever on good equipment.
33lp, you wrote; ".....historic recordings which if properly transferred to CD with minimal or zero computer processing can sound far better today than ever on good equipment."
This is important isn't it. There are many excellent transfers and quite a few less than excellent. One of the saddest cases is the wonderful recording Decca made of Parsifal at the 1951 Bayreuth Festival (with Knappertsbusch). Following a legal dispute with Teldec, Decca were unable to issue it on CD and then Teldec made a complete hash of the CD transfer; it was soon deleted. Now you can only get it on Naxos, well transferred from LPs, but sounding less good than my own LPs. There are lots of other examples of classic recordings poorly transferred.
Concerning hi-end equipment though, I must say that though my equipment is not nearly so impressive as Parla's (I have Meridian CD player, Quad 99 + 909, and ESL2905s) my experience has been that poorer recordings have generally become more tolerable as I have improved my Hi-fi. I suspect that the range of recordings we can listen to is more to do with our individual tolerances as listeners than the equipment we use. Also, I'm at least a generation older than Parla, I think, and many of the key musical experiences in my 'formative' years come from the late '50s to the early '70s. I couldn't be without these. But it is always a pleasure to discover superlative new performances splendidly recorded, my most recent being the wonderful Haydn quartet recordings by the Parkanyi quartet, for which recommendation Parla, again many thanks!
Fair comments Chris as we are apparently older than Parla. I came to music (of all kinds) as a child via my parents 78s. Schnabel, Toscanini & Weingarner in Beethoven, Cortot, Paderewski & Eileen Joyce in Chopin, Menuhin's first concerto recordings, Rachmaninoff in his own works, various records of Stokowski in Philadelphia etc. I think I have them all now on CD or LP and they probably sound better than ever (one of these days I'll set up again some 78 playing gear - my Lenco will play them but I don't want to disturb its LP settings and of course if one is to do it properly the equalization settings are quite different from LP).
It is as you say always interesting to discover and still possible to find an artist for the first time who simply hits the right spot as happened with me when I first heard Moravec via the Philips Great Pianists issue and I immediately had to start searching out his recordings. More recently it's been Juana Zayas in superb sound on Music & Arts.
Like you, 33lp, it was with 78s that I first learned about the wonders of classical music. My grandfather introduced me to Elisabeth Schumann in Lieder, Dinu Lipatti in Bach, Huberman in the Beethoven concerto, Weingartner in Beethoven 9, and others. Even now I still 'hear' the places where the 78s turned over. He was very keen on a soprano called Elisabeth Ohms (singing Leonore's aria from Fidelio). It was my grandfather who gave me a 'wind-up' HMV horn gramophone and second-hand 78s were a great early source of pleasure for me. The first hi-fi we had at home coincided with the arrival of stereo. Kleiber's recording of Figaro, and Karl Richter's first recording of St. Matthew Passion were early LP purchases.
Prices, then and now, are interesting. In 1963 I sat in the front Gallery at Covent Garden for Mozart's Figaro. Solti conducted, with Geraint Evans, Tito Gobbi, Joan Carlyle, Mirella Freni and Teresa Berganza. I paid 15/- (75p). The Kleiber recording cost £8. Today I could probably buy two complete CD sets for the price of the opera ticket! How times change. The cost of recorded music has fallen much more in real terms than the price of opera tickets has risen. That Kleiber recording of Figaro, though, still stands for me as one of the very greatest opera recordings.
Astonishing how in real terms the cost of recorded music has decreased whilst live music has increased. I would think that if converted to today's prices those albums of red label HMV 78s would cost a fortune.
Until we got a radiogram we had an HMV turntable plugged in to a Philips console radio and I was told in no uncertain terms that the expensive classical recordings must only be played with fibre needles: the steel ones which chewed the records up were only for some older 78s inherited from my grandparents.
Like you, Chris, I too cannot hear certain works without my mind registering "end of side" approaching!
Speaking of good pianists, Decca is going to release, early August, a recital of the very notable Nelson Freire, called Brasileiro, featuring music mostly of his compatriot Villa-Lobos.
DG is also releasing the same period a new very promising CD of the quite influential and significant guitarist Pepe Romero, called Spanish Nights, with music of Rodrigo, Torroba, Turina and his late father Celedonio Romero. (Nobody seems to be even remotely interested in this lovely and charming instrument and its very interesting repertory).
Hi Chris. Sorry to hear about the "botched" Dvorak recording. I don't own that one (yet) in any version. What does their earlier one look like should I come across it? I have a few of the Ancerl "Gold Edition" and also a few of the Talich "Special Edition" [which like you mentioned, I had heard awhile ago from a music loving friend that Supraphon hadn't done a good job overall remastering this series.
Oh, and by the way, it was Parla who had mentioned the Brahms recordings; they are still on my "wants list"! But great to hear yet another vote for them! :-)
I'm afraid that you misunderstood my posting. What I meant was that if ALL that you wanted to play had to be on 1) SACD format, or 2) wonderfully recorded but Had to also be in modern sound, etc. that you would be missing out on many wonderful recordings through the years. Not that SACDs or high resolution recordings detract from a wonderful experience! Far from it--and I enjoy those too.
I have a number of older recordings which I relish listening to (like the Cortot/Barbirolli/Chopin recording). Personally, I'd much rather listen to a recording with some hisses and clicks than one which has had too much "filtering" applied to it, etc., that it just sounds flat and lifeless to me. For me, it's the music that matters the most and most of the time I can just sit back and let it speak to me. And yes, occassionally I do run across that odd recording which just is really jarring to me....trying to remember which one it was that I heard not too long ago. It was one from the 1940's...will have to see if I can jog my memory! Hopefully, one of these days, I'll get a new record player and will then have some fun comparing a few CDs that I have to some newly acquired LPs to see if I can hear much difference--and also whether or not it truly makes much difference for me. I can hear and do appreciate the differences between some CDs and their SACD versions, and if possible, I do opt for getting them on SACD. Also between someone who has done a good job remastering an older recording and someone who hasn't so I think that we are all on agreement there.
Anyway, do you listen to and enjoy historical/older recordings? Any cutoff date or method of recording that you refuse to listen to? As in, for example, "I refuse to listen to any mono recordings" (not me here, just an example!)?