Baroque Violin and Recorded Acoustics

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Baroque Violin and Recorded Acoustics

Hello all friends of violin music.

 

I would be interested to hear opinions about the latest recordings of baroque and early violin.

 

In recent months I have acquired several CDs that have receveid favourable mentions by critics.

 

On playing them I feel the acoustics are so reveberant or full of echo that it is hard to enjoy the playing or distinguish the true sound of the violin.

 

Could it be that a new generation of recording engineers feel that the more artificial echo we add the better the recording.

 

This applies for instance to some Hyperion and Channel Island recordings of late.

 

I must add that I have been collecting and listening to classical music for some 50 years now and play on several setups using B&W alternatively Quad speakers in different acoustic environment.

 

Does anyone else feel the same - that acoustics are a bit overdone on some new recordings?

 

Yours faithfully

Island Oldie

 

Hello, Island Oldie!

Hello, Island Oldie!

Can you name a couple of recordings, so we can listen and see if we agree?

(A Hyperion one might be a good idea, because we can listen to substantial excerpts on their website for free.........)

Hi Island Oldie,

Hi Island Oldie,

And sorry for stating the obvious, but I imagine you've ruled out a church recording?

Baroque Violin and Recorded Acoustics

Hello,

 

it is important that we must not let this discussion reflect on the artists but rather the way the performance is presented.

 

The Channel Island record I am referreing to is Rachel Podgers Guardian Angel

which most certaily has been recorded in a church

 

Regarding Hyperion I must apologize. Upon checking the label is Harmonia Mundi

and the performances the sonatas and trios of Handel by  messrs Manze & Egarr

and the sonatas by Pandolfi

 

For comparison one might listen to the Bach sonatas by Rachel Podger and Trevor Pinnock on css 14798 which to my ears sound superb

 

 

 

Baroque Violin and Recorded Acoustics

Good remark

No offense taken :-)

Please see further above

 

Had a quick listen to these

Had a quick listen to these recordings......

I certainly do know what you mean, Island Oldie. When I read your post yesterday, my first thought was that you were probably right. I think there has been a trend, especially in period performances of chamber music, for resonant, echo-ey, churchy recordings. (Much of which probably comes from the choice of venue, along with microphone placement.) To some extent, I realise now that I have come to associate this particular, bouncy style of recording with period performances in general. (There may, I suppose, be good historical reasons for choosing resonant or sacred venues..........)

There is also the question of differening house-styles for the different record companies. Hyperion tend towards a drier, more analytical sound (which I prefer). Harmoni Mundi are, I believe, quite well know for their more "airy" acoustics........

 

 

It must be this thing about

It must be this thing about giving churchy sound to more or less church music. That's not to say that I've noticed the difference because I don't have access to those recordings just now (I'll try to check them out in a couple of days...)

 

I personally prefer a clean and dry sound over a reverberant one.

A different questions would be whether it is a good idea that they to try to reproduce the church sound (fake or not).

Recording acoustics.

Not sure I agree on dryish acoustics and find the modern baroque recordings enhanced by an airy acoustic. I've just been listening to the lyra viol recording by Robert Smith (BBC MM's instrumental recording of the month), good for cleansing the palate (but don't listen to it all in one go!). I think I would find this difficult to listen to if the acoustic were dryer. I find there are some superbly recorded recent chamber music issues from the likes of Potton Hall & St Georges Brandon Hill (such as the Waley Cohen/Watkins disc I referred to elsewhere in another forum).

 

This is in total contrast to modern orchestral recordings. Admittedly I don't buy many these days but I don't think I've heard  anything recent to match Decca's sound of half a century ago. This I suspect is due to the increasing trend for so-called "live" recordings in unsuitable venues (the Berlin Philharmonie compared to the Jesus Christus Kirche for example) or the dreadful Barbican. I recall once reading an interview with Seymour Solomon, founder/owner of Vanguard Records who produced most of their recordings personally & who commented that before anything else, the most important aspect of any recording was the suitable acoustics of the venue.

33lp wrote:

33lp wrote:

Admittedly I don't buy many these days but I don't think I've heard  anything recent to match Decca's sound of half a century ago. This I suspect is due to the increasing trend for so-called "live" recordings in unsuitable venues (the Berlin Philharmonie compared to the Jesus Christus Kirche for example) or the dreadful Barbican. I recall once reading an interview with Seymour Solomon, founder/owner of Vanguard Records who produced most of their recordings personally & who commented that before anything else, the most important aspect of any recording was the suitable acoustics of the venue.

I used to be one of those people who deliberately avoided "older" recordings, but I am gradually come around. They seem to be far more characterful and "natural".

As far as I can see, modern recording processes seem to be all about taking the natural acoustic out of the equation altogether. They dangle so many mics over the orchestra, just about every instrument gets it own personal one. Then they mix and match at will. Turn up the flute there, turn down the cellos there........I read on an acoustic-related site the other day that the San Fransisco Symphony Orchestra use 78 microphones for a typical recording!

In contrast - though I could be wrong; someone else will know more - I presume chamber recordings are done much more in the old style: two or three mics on tripods, which allows the natural acoustic to come into play.

33lp wrote:

33lp wrote:

Not sure I agree on dryish acoustics and find the modern baroque recordings enhanced by an airy acoustic. I've just been listening to the lyra viol recording by Robert Smith (BBC MM's instrumental recording of the month), good for cleansing the palate (but don't listen to it all in one go!). I think I would find this difficult to listen to if the acoustic were dryer.

 

It is such a personal thing, isn’t. And still I think there is an argument for “dry” recordings: The acoustics don’t belong to the music but in the place where it is reproduced. To give a bit of an unrealistic example, a dry recording played in a church would sound pretty reverberant. Well, no many people have private churches, but accoustics do vary enormously from sitting room to sitting room.

 

Island Oldie, I’ve actually managed to sample some of those and they do sound as you say, obviously. I’ve no idea if it is a trend or something but it is something that has bothered me  before. It is not so terrible with the solo violin pieces, but in Handel’s sonatas the harpsichord already sounds too undefined and remote.

 

By the way, the Bach sonatas with Podger and Pinnock… would you say that the violin is just a little bit too forward in relation to the harpsichord?

I also often find the

I also often find the Barbican sound a problem in the hall itself and epecially on the LSO Live label. However I'm not so sure about the Berlin Philharmonie.  I thought the sound in the hall itself was perfectly OK, and I find the sound on the Berlin Digital Concert Hall to be excellent, much better than efforts of other companies and Karajan's more manipulated recordings.

 

I agree with Jane - Harmonia Mundi tend to favour the sort of sound being described, at least on the recordings I have. A lot of 1980s HIP efforts now sound a bit too anaemic too me. 

 

Ed

 

 

 

 

 

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