I posted this to the Ampex List earlier. Basically, I think there are many ways to skin a cat and a
transcendently excellent production (performance plus recording) will always stand the test of time,
no matter how it's made ...
There are several obits of Kazdin around. The mainstream media, typically, presents a false and
over-simplistic dichotomy between "minimalist" classical recording techniques and Kazdin's preferred
many-mic/multi-track techniques. I just did an AES presentation touching on this topic, pointing out
that there are many ways to skin a cat (make a great classical recording) and that the American
recording craft evolved over time. I played examples showing everything from single-mic mono to the
Kazdin-produced 32-mic 1975 "Daphnis and Chloe" by Boulez/NY Philharmonic. Some audience comments
definitely favored the fewer-mic approaches, on the grounds that Kazdin was producing a fake,
manufactured sound-picture. I can see this point of view, but I would argue that ALL classical
recordings that hold up over time are productions of one sort or another. When you actually document
the experience of sitting in Row X in Concert Hall X, it falls flat over a home-listening system.
There is more to experiencing a live performance -- for one thing the sound-source is the entire
space you're in, for another there are powerful elements involving other senses, so super-acute
listening rarely takes place -- than just the sound as can be captured by microphones. So, to
produce (rather than document) a performance that can hold up in the home listening environment, one
must create a sound-picture that you couldn't hear in the hall unless you floated up in several
different points at once, not in any single seat or even on the conductor's podium. Also, there must
be a clarity and balance between sections rarely hear from any single seat in the room. And, of
course, the performance must be "perfect" as to the taste of the conductor and/or producer.
Where I think Kazdin's creativity really came through was in the short-lived Quad era. His quad mix
of "Daphnis" has the chorus clearly separated from the orchestra, so you hear both in a new level
of detail impossible in 2-channel stereo. In that setting, if you can get your head around the fact
that of course it's not "natural" and of course you could never hear this exact perspective in that
room where the performance was recorded, you hear more of the details of Ravel's score than is
possible otherwise. The same was true of Kazdin's production of Boulez/NYP doing Bartok's "Concerto
for Orchestra." In the quad mix, the listener was inside the orchestra, and the music unfolds in a
circle around him. Gimmicky? Sure, but again you hear more of the details of the composition than is
When the "Columbia technique" really succeeds, the resulting listening experience is super-clarity.
I imagine a composer would love it because his score gets put on full display, no details buried and
all sections heard equally. Some listeners find this very synthetic and contrived, and the albums
have always been controversial but some have sold quite well and are still in print.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "David Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 9:45 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Andrew Kazdin, Record Producer, Dies at 77
> Thanks Rob for sharing this. I didn't know that Kazdin was among the
> consumers of 1950s hi-fi and the radio row aesthetic. I guess it was
> inevitable that multi-miking of classical recordings would eventually
> supplant the traditional one mike technique, but certainly he was not the
> first to do it. And I feel that there can be overkill in the latter
> approach that is not germane to the former. Thoughts?
> Uncle Dave Lewis
> Lebanon, OH
> On Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 9:26 AM, Rob DeLand <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Andrew Kazdin, a producer known for his recordings of the New York
>> Philharmonic, the pianists Glenn Gould, Murray Perahia and Ruth Laredo, and
>> the organist E. Power Biggs, and who revolutionized classical recording by
>> using techniques more common to popular music, died on Monday in Manhattan.
>> He was 77.