Not to start a fight, I never got very far into Schuller's rather dogmatic
book years ago, given my doubts about the 'precision' of a score, no matter
how detailed. He seems to have taken as gospel Toscanini's quip about not
needing a performance tradition for Beethoven since he had the score.
I am now reading the book, Off the Record, by Neal Peres da Costa
(recommended.) He is very convincing that the piano scores of 19th century
composers do not give the full story on how to play their pieces.
Unannotated expressive devices such as playing one hand before the other,
arpeggiation, rubato, dotting, speeding u[p& slowing down, were all assumed
by many composers and their performers. Testimony from a recording of
Brahms playing his music and from his students shows that Brahms played in
a manner that would disqualify him from entering Julliard today. Listen to
the rather fascinating Arbiter CD, Behind the Notes: Brahms performed by
colleagues and pupils. There is also evidence of Brahms's 'Wagnerian'
tendencies as a conductor.
On Sun, Apr 5, 2015 at 11:05 AM, Carl Pultz <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Here's some more from Gunther Schuller and his advocacy for the score:
> "The difficulty in this discussion lies in the fact that no human being,
> no artist, no conductor can ever be totally objective in
> artistic/interpretive matters, or - to put it another way - can ever avoid
> being subjective to some extent. Clearly, the argument generally mounted by
> the opponents of textual fidelity - to wit, that someone is too 'objective'
> in his performance, too cold, too intellectual, too inexpressive, too
> reliant on the score - is itself false and specious, because even that
> alleged 'objectivity' is bound to incorporate a great or lesser degree of
> "We are, after all, what we are; and conductors are what they are. No
> conductor is purposely bad or purposely good. Every conductor is trying to
> evolve out of his talents the highest and most personal expression.
> Unfortunately, this often fails because (a) there is among conductor's
> views of themselves a sizable gap between perception and reality, that is ,
> between their perception of themselves and the reality as seen by others;
> and (b) conductors now increasingly try 'to be different' in order to carve
> out for themselves some special career niche....
> "This alarming trend can best be seen and heard in recordings...in that
> conductors, battling it out in the fiercely competitive recording market,
> have now learned that they will stand out, will be reviewed and discussed
> more readily, and will thus attract more attention the more they can
> interpret a work differently from the several dozen recordings of it that
> are already in the market place. This has become more than a trend in
> recent years; it has become an obsession and a specific skill, eagerly
> supported by managers and, of course, most record companies. At that point
> the composer's score becomes, alas, a total irrelevance, an annoying
> burden. In this perverse view of things, the music becomes fair game to be
> exploited for whatever career gains it can provide. Beyond the immediate
> negative effects of specific personal mis-, under-, or over-interpretations
> by these conductors, there is an unfortunate cumulative effect as well: the
> varied distinctive qualities and characteristics of the great symphonic
> masterpieces are submerged in one generalized, (ironically) depersonalized,
> generic, amorphous, androgynous performance style. Instead of the
> personality of the composer - and the true personal and special essence of
> the work in question - we get the personality of the conductor."
> That was published in 1997. The record companies are not so influential
> now. These days it looks like the same marketing is deployed more broadly
> to 'save classical music.'
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
> Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2015 10:41 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] SACD "surprise"
> I'll say this about Boulez -- I love that he's so polarizing! Good for
> him! A big part of my disinterest in most orchestras and conductors today
> is that they either try to be everything to everyone, or they pander to try
> and "get the kids interested," or they are stuck in the mud of
> over-caution. None of that is interesting. Boulez is different and
> controversial. I like some of his recordings, do not like others. I even
> like that he's played the Legend card in France to amass a big pile of
> state funding for classical music (who has the power to do that here?). The
> very things that David Lewis mentioned -- the "ice cold" interpretations,
> the super-precision to certain scores, are liable to totally turn off
> American fans who, for instance, loved the Bernstein approach to music.
> There's nothing wrong with that! Alternative and even opposite approaches
> to music are great, and so is debate about it. What's not great is
> un-original thinking, over-caution and working so hard to be "inclusive"
> that one never plants their foot on decisive lines. Be bold or be bored!
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2015 10:21 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] SACD "surprise"
> > BTW, the DAC2 is a substantial improvement on the DAC1, various versions
> of which I've owned since
> > it came out over ten years ago. Even the analog path is better. Still, I
> hear a difference with it
> > between Toslink and coax from the same Redbook source. Always have. I
> know, I know.... The async
> > USB is also audibly better than with the standard driver, whatever the
> data rate. It was such an
> > impressive upgrade that I splurged on their new amp. It replaces a
> Bryston, which is no toy. The
> > combo is highly revealing, yet not annoyingly so, as there often is a
> tradeoff between
> > transparency and musicality. I find it correct for whichever hat I'm
> wearing, mixer or
> > music-lover.
> > Another aside, regarding Boulez. I don't dismiss the work of such a
> sophisticated and accomplished
> > musician, who has gained the respect of some of the most demanding
> orchestras out there. It can be
> > instructive to hear his way with music. His old Debussy series was
> praised for its objectivity and
> > scrupulous attention to detail, and is still valuable for it. Similarly
> his Mahler, yet it needn't
> > displace Barbirolli, et al. Just as with audio arts, there is no one
> correct way, and we don't
> > always see the value in something until time gives us perspective.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> > Of Tom Fine
> > Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2015 8:49 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] SACD "surprise"
> > Hi John:
> > I think what you're hearing with 96k is the 24-bit word length. I am not
> convinced that the
> > super-high sampling rates capture anything audible above what 44.1 or
> 48k capture, but I do think
> > that the Nyquist filtering and other factors make the audible top end
> sound better. However, many
> > DACs up-sample 44.1k before filtering and converting anyway. For
> instance, the Benchmark design,
> > of which there are many variants, up-samples everything to three hundred
> and something kiloHertz,
> > re-clocking so as to strip out jitter, then converts to analog.
> > Here's a "white paper" about Benchmark's DAC1 approach:
> > For the DAC2 series, the describe the "improved" system this way:
> > -------------------------------------------
> > UltraLock2™ Jitter Attenuation System
> > UltraLock2™ is an improved version of the UltraLock™ system used in the
> DAC1 and ADC1 product
> > families. DSP processing is 32-bits, DSP headroom is 3.5 dB, sample rate
> is 211 kHz, and
> > jitter-induced distortion and noise is at least 140 dB below the level
> of the music - well below
> > the threshold of hearing. Benchmark's UltraLock2™ system eliminates all
> audible jitter artifacts.
> > ---------------------------------------------
> > Up-sampling and over-sampling DAC designs have been around for a long
> time, but I do think modern
> > designs are more sophisticated in how they strip out jitter from the
> source. The consumer high-end
> > designers first got the jitter-rejection religion, especially when they
> started recognizing
> > consumer demand for USB interfaces (USB is notorious for jitter due to
> inconsistent clocking built
> > into typical computer CPUs). Companies like Benchmark and Mytek and
> Lynx, which have feet in both
> > consumer and pro audio, have put out well-reviewed and good-sounding, to
> my ears, jitter-rejecting
> > products in recent times. The other focus where I think some strides
> have been made recently is
> > the analog stage after conversion, there are some super-quiet and
> near-transparent designs out
> > there now. A modern digital system should operate so quietly that it
> essentially has no audible
> > noise floor in even a quiet real-world room.
> > A simple test would be to convert some well-known analog material at
> 96/16 and 48/16 and see if
> > you hear a difference. Then 96/24 and 48/24, and then compare the
> 24-bits to the 16-bits. I think
> > that's where you'll hear the differences.
> > To my ears, 24-bit makes a difference, especially with "air and space"
> in something like an
> > orchestral recording. Just transferring in 24-bit makes a difference, if
> you've got a good
> > dither-down conversion system to get to a CD master.
> > -- Tom Fine
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2015 2:44 AM
> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] SACD "surprise"
> >> CORRECTION. When I said "catching a whole octave above 48 kHz in
> >> frequency," I meant "catching a whole octave in frequency above what is
> >> captured by a 48 kHz sampling rate." Sorry about that.
> >> Best,
> >> John
> >> On Sun, Apr 5, 2015 at 2:38 AM, John Haley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >>> Thanks for posting the NY Times Boulez article, Tom, which could have
> >>> entitled "A bunch of famous musicians sitting around kissing up to
> >>> Boulez." They remark how "influential" (i.e, famous) he is. That he
> >>> Does that make him a great conductor? Nope. I loved the Gunther
> >>> quote. Obviously, Boulez has occasionally succeeded with a piece of
> >>> music. Like they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And
> >>> great orchestras could occasionally deliver a great performance even
> >>> ignoring a monkey on the podium.
> >>> If DGG digital recordings had max resolution of 48 kHz, as you know
> >>> is not an appreciable difference from 44.1 kHz. The difference in
> >>> frequencies (pitches) those sampling rates will capture is the
> >>> between 22,500 and 24,000 Hz. Way up there, that is a difference of
> only a
> >>> note or two (think extended piano keyboard). I have never been able to
> >>> hear the slightest difference between a recording at 44.1 kHz and one
> at 48
> >>> kHz. Recording at 96 kHz is a whole 'nother thing, catching a whole
> >>> above 48 kHz in frequency, but also seemingly able to capture more
> >>> based on double the number of samples. Or maybe I should say capture
> >>> detail with greater accuracy.
> >>> Since we routinely make hi-def dubs (at least 96/24) from analog master
> >>> tapes these days that can sound really great, I have to wonder if, all
> >>> being equal, those results will outshine an original digital recording
> >>> at only 48 kHz.
> >>> I am another one who has never felt that your average DGG orchestral
> >>> recording captured a lot of the sheer excitement of the sound of a
> >>> symphony orchestra.
> >>> Best,
> >>> John
> >>> On Sat, Apr 4, 2015 at 8:21 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>> Hi Mark:
> >>>> So from what you're saying, I gather that the maximum resolution of
> >>>> Boulez/CSO master would be 48/24?
> >>>> -- Tom Fine
> >>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Mark Donahue" <
> [log in to unmask]
> >>>> >
> >>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> >>>> Sent: Saturday, April 04, 2015 6:13 PM
> >>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] SACD "surprise"
> >>>> On Sat, Apr 4, 2015 at 10:31 AM, Tom Fine <
> [log in to unmask]>
> >>>>> wrote:
> >>>>> I can't recall if it was Yamaha or Studer digital consoles, but I
> >>>>>> you are correct in your descriptions of "4D". being a true DDD
> system in
> >>>>>> that the last time anything was analog was when the mic plugged
> into the
> >>>>>> console and the mic preamp went to a ADC.
> >>>>> Tom,
> >>>>> The DG 4D system was comprised of a stagebox containing custom
> remote mic
> >>>>> preamps and Yamaha converters that connected digitally at 24
> >>>>> bits/44.1/48k
> >>>>> to an RTW bit splitter that allowed them to record 24 bit 16 track
> on a
> >>>>> Sony3324. The signal was also distributed to the input of a pair of
> >>>>> Yamaha
> >>>>> DMC-1000 digital consoles. The normal orchestral kit that I would
> >>>>> here
> >>>>> in the states was a pair or three stage boxes with a pair of
> machines for
> >>>>> 32 track recording. It was basically modular and could be scaled for
> >>>>> job.
> >>>>> All the best,
> >>>>> -mark