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  »  New  Remastering (and re-locating) Gould's hummm..  Then why would they include it?...  Musical Discussions  Forum     3  15658  01-13-2008
05-29-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 4495
Reply to: 4495
Gould's Goldberg Variations re-played?

Hm, I do not know if I like it but it is incredibly interesting:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10439850&ft=1&f=1041

Listen the audio file of the NPR program.

The caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
05-29-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,130
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 2
Post ID: 4497
Reply to: 4495
Popped bubble redux
I have some old Everest recordings made of "Vorsetzer" (Duo-Art and one other manufacturer, as I recall...) pianos that both record and play from special piano rolls made by most of the greats of the time, including Hoffman, Rubenstein, Busoni, Paderewski, etc. I used to listen to these for hours on end in my youth, daydreaming, totally lost in it and believing them to be the best of the best.

A few years ago I played some of it (Hoffman!) for a friend who is a gifted pianist, and without knowing the source she immediately said it was "synchopated".  And as soon as she said it, it was obvious.

Well, I refuse to think of Josef Hoffman as "synchopated"!

I figured I'd wait a few years and try listening to them again.

Guess it's time to bust them out soon.

Best regards,
Paul S
05-30-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Michaelz
Posts 38
Joined on 03-01-2007

Post #: 3
Post ID: 4506
Reply to: 4495
It's not the same thing
Heard the prelude in Cortot's recording and it's computerized "replay" recording.  It's no longer the same touch.  I guess the hardest thing, the tone, refuses to be reproducible.
05-30-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 4510
Reply to: 4497
About the “infinite unexpressed randomness”

Well, this is complicated subject.

I do have the quite a lot of the Duo-Art recordings and I would say that more rather like them then reject them. I first got them on Nimbus Records “Polish Virtuoso” with Friedman, Hoffmann, Paderewski and then I developed more interest and more understanding how to live with the Duo-Art limitations

Is it auditable that the there is no human being behind the keyboard and the play is purely mechanical? Unquestionably it is! It is auditable just after a few accords! There are no needs to discuss it; however there are also no needs to misled ourselves thinking that we should be anxious about it. There are plenty of other pianists who play so stupid that compare to them the mechanical Duo-Art’s recordings of Friedman for instance sound like a very “live” music. What I think important is not to fool ourselves thinking how close or far it is from human touch but instead to listen it “as is”.

Yes, certain mechanical stupidity of the reproduction machinery very much bother me but what I do is PUTTING IT RIGHT THE WAY OUT OF PARENTHESES OF MY LISTENING EXPERIENCES and try to figure out what was left… Usually, listing the Duo-Art recordings, with all their inhuman limitation I STILL FIND SOMETHING IN THERE FOR MYSELF….

Well, here is a hypothetical test for everyone. If Josef Hofmann and some of today’s “hero-pianists”, Evgeny Kissin for instance, would record recital on those mechanical piano then we play the recording via that mechanical piano then will we hear that one of them was a truly genus-musician and another was juts an plan-vanilla idiot? I think we would be able to see it and I think it would be an illustration that even in the mechanization of the Duo-Art technology there is a rational grain.

I did not hear personally the “replayed” Alfred Cortot or Glenn Gould but I think that the direction is very interesting even the successes are far from to be indicative. Where we will be with this in 20 year, how about 50 years? Could the machinery “read” or at least mimic the players intentions? After all the intentions are being transmuted via sound. By nature of the fact that we, the listeners and Josef Hofmann for instance were humans we have the same brain-algorithms to undusted, encode and decode the intentions. Sure computers do not do it but we do not communicate with Hofmann’s mind on the language of “infinite unexpressed randomness”, as humans do, but rather we communicate by a structured and very much man-made language – music.  Music in a way is more or less algorithmable and with increase registering of sonic event’s “discreetness”*** I think it might be possible to preserve the sonic footsteps of performing event in it full meaning.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat*** The "discreetness" has little to do with “sampling rate” of the event but rather with  sampling rate of dimensions


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
05-30-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Michaelz
Posts 38
Joined on 03-01-2007

Post #: 5
Post ID: 4511
Reply to: 4510
The raison d'etre
For me, since there is the old recording and I can suffer easily the crappy noises, I do not need to reach Cortot's playing through the computer's replay.  For performances of which there are only piano paper rolls, it is different matter.
05-30-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 6
Post ID: 4512
Reply to: 4495
The New York Times on the subject

Is It Live ... or Yamaha? Channeling Glenn Gould
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
March 12, 2007

Was that relief I felt as the piano was playing? A feeling that some worry had been alleviated or a fear quieted? Why then was it also mixed with disappointment, as if some deep yearning had been thwarted? Not yet, not yet, not yet: relief and frustration intertwined.

For months I had deliberately avoided listening. A technologically oriented, musically sophisticated company, Zenph Studios (zenph.com), claimed that it could bring the voices of the musical dead back to life. It could achieve, that is, what technology has long dreamt of: It would make light of the material world and all its restrictions.

Zenph claimed it could take a 50-year-old mono recording and distill from its hiss-laden, squished sound all of the musical information that originally went into it. It wouldn’t “process” the recording to get rid of noise; it wouldn’t pretend to turn mono into stereo; it wouldn’t try to correct things that were sonically “wrong.” Instead the claim was that it would, using its proprietary software, learn from recorded sound precisely how an instrument — a piano, for starters — was played, with what force a key was struck, how far down the sustain pedal was pressed, when each finger moved, how each note was weighted in a complex chord and what sort of timbre was actually produced.

Then it would effectively recreate the instrument. A digital file encoded with this information would be read by Yamaha’s advanced Disklavier Pro — a computerized player piano — and transformed into music. A recorded piano becomes a played piano. This would be sonic teleportation, monochromatic forms reincarnated as three-dimensional sound — not colorization but re-creation.

Zenph also announced it had accomplished this feat of technological legerdemain with one of the most remarkable recordings of the last century: Glenn Gould’s 1955 mono rendition of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations. Gould, who retreated from performance into the private realm of the recording studio where he could splice and fiddle with sound and phrase, would be posthumously pulled back into the realm of public performance.

Gould believed technology liberated performer and listener. Here this pianist, who died in 1982, would be freed from the ultimate constraint.

And indeed, last September in Toronto, Zenph gave a public “reperformance” of Gould’s “Goldbergs” on a specially prepared Yamaha Disklavier. Zenph’s “Goldbergs” inspired a standing ovation from the audience members, many of whom knew Gould and some of whom had heard him play live. The press reports glowed.

Then one day last week Zenph — which took its name from “senf,” the German word for mustard — brought a press demonstration of its “Goldbergs” to Yamaha’s New York piano studios, playing portions of the work both on the Disklavier and from its recording, due to be released at the end of May on Sony BMG Masterworks.

Before the demonstration I returned to the 1955 recording, which I had not heard for several years. I was swept away again. This is not spiritual playing, plumbing the profundity of Bach’s meditations; it is ecstatic, uncanny in its intoxication. The recording is skittish, illuminating, thrilling and extraordinarily physical: the playing seeps into muscles as well as ears; every phrase exerts the pressure and play of dance.

John Q. Walker, Zenph’s president, knows this as well. He is a brilliant software engineer (who did important work in computer networking) and a musician who speaks of his enterprise with impassioned fervor. Last week, when he started the Yamaha instrument playing his encodings of Gould, something thrilling really did take place. The piano produced sounds that were indisputably human and unmistakably Gouldian. The playing could not have come from any other pianist.

But wait. ... Gould’s recorded piano sound is dry, as if each note were squeezed free of moisture. The phrases quiver; connections between notes are tensile, as if they were being held together by sinews. But at the demonstration the sound was often plump, rotund, even bell-like. That is partly the character of Yamaha pianos. And isn’t that a problem? Any great pianist will adjust a performance to the instrument, treating one with a “wet sound” differently from one with more sharply etched qualities, phrasing differently, even adjusting tempo. This difference in instruments limits Zenph’s claims; it also seemed to slacken the music’s sinews.

Presumably though the recording — done on another Yamaha that the piano technician, Marc Wienert, voiced to resemble Gould’s old Steinway — would have a better effect. Yet it leaves a similar impression. Is this some psychoacoustic phenomenon then, some disorientation caused by close familiarity with the old mono sound? When recordings were first becoming widely available at the turn of the 20th century, there were demonstrations in concert halls in which singers would begin a song, and a hidden gramophone with its amplifying horn would complete it. One London newspaper reported: “The most sensitive ear could not detect the slightest difference between the tone of the singer and the tone of the mechanical device.”

Bizarre. But am I experiencing something in reverse, treating sonic antiquity with reverence and not recognizing musical similarities? We all learn languages of listening, ways of interpreting reproductions, imagining full-size orchestras emerging from clock radios, ignoring hisses or distortions, compensating for flaws.

Does the new instrumentation seem less convincing because it disrupts the old familiar language of listening? I don’t think so. In Zenph’s recording, the music’s tensile line really is loosened. I admire what I hear and might not even realize what was missing without comparing, but I am not intoxicated with Gould’s exuberance or infected with his ecstatic amazement. The music is the same, yet not the same.

Of course one might say, “How could it be otherwise?” Think of the kinds of processing and analysis that had to be done: filtering out Gould’s hums or groans, isolating the sound of the piano with all its intricate overtones, taking into account the way sound was compressed or altered by every microphone, processor or wire it passed through.

Then there’s another step: “reverse engineering” the sound, as if reconstructing the instrument that created it. Then another: producing the music from yet another instrument, Yamaha’s Disklavier. And another: recording the music yet again.

The process is mind-bogglingly complex. And at every moment there are also human decisions — adjustments of the piano, musical alterations. Perhaps over time both human practice and technological possibilities will evolve further, leaving fewer distinctions. A recording by Art Tatum is due next from Zenph, along with other recordings from Sony BMG Masterworks’ rich archives.

But why all this effort? (Five man-months for a “reperformance,” as Mr. Walker explained.) Partly perhaps because contemporary sound is considered preferable and marketable. Partly because, as Zenph’s Web site points out, the great recordings of the past are passing into the public domain. The European Union allows just 50 years of protection — and this is a way of maintaining proprietary control.

But is the result really musically superior? It could only be that if there were absolutely nothing lost and every difference were an improvement; neither is the case. This is a disappointment then, though one that is exhilarating in its enterprise and promise.

The disappointment is also a relief. For had Zenph succeeded, there would have been a severe price. Had that really been Gould’s sound coming from the piano, it would have dealt a severe blow indeed to an ancient prejudice: that music, in all its complexity, is beyond the reach of the merely technical, and that it belongs, in creation and interpretation, to humanity’s ever-shrinking domain. Relief: no Gouldian robotics. Yet.


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
05-30-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,130
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 7
Post ID: 4514
Reply to: 4512
<Hummm
Well, I'm pleased to own the vinyl set in question, and if I ever listen to the Mustard set it will be out of curiosity.

I bet I'll even miss Gould's much-hated-by-me humming...

Or do their computers add that "perfectly", too?

Remember, we are not taliking about a "recording" that includes pedal, inflection, etc., but Mustard instead claims it will TOTALLY "reconstruct" the music itself, including a perfect 20's Steinway by a souped-up Yamaha.  At least the artist actually played the music on the Vorsetzer as it was recorded, and then the +/- same piano was used for playback...

While I will be happy to enjoy any music according to its own merits, I am loathe, perhaps for quasi-moral reasons, to  to accept a putative "clone".

And Romy, I like your take on the Everest/Vorsetzer recordings versus the original performances and performers they represent.  I used to be SO jealous of the Sony big-wig, Joseph Tushinsky, who bought up almost all the Vorsetzer pianos and rolls.

But I maybe never before or since got more happiness from records than I did with those.

Hofmann's solo transcription/Vorsetzer performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto will always live in my mind as the single greatest performance I have heard in my life.

Youth...

Best regards,
Paul S
05-31-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,495
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 8
Post ID: 4519
Reply to: 4511
Chess, Music and ...“Matrix Revolution”

 Michaelz wrote:
I do need to reach --&gt; I&nbsp;do not need to reach.
Russians said that when you see on cage with tiger a label “elephant” do not believe to own eyes. So, Mike, do not worry, the people who read this site have accustomed to read “what it might mean” instead of what was actually said. :-)

BTW, about the replayed performances. I also have no NEEDS to get the replayed if the originals are available (regardless of the sonic quality) but I do not mind to have OPPORTUNITY to have others makeing the  replayed attempts. I think by purifying, improving and studying the replays we learn something about out humanity and soon or later we might reach the point when we might make the machine that can “read” what we, humans are capable to “write”. To me it is like a chess-playing computers - by teaching themselves how to beat the chess-playing machine the chess grossmasters become better players and discovered qute a lot about the chess strategies…

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
05-31-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Michaelz
Posts 38
Joined on 03-01-2007

Post #: 9
Post ID: 4520
Reply to: 4519
Useful Research

I see what you mean by opportunity.  Even though their motive may be otherwise, they invest money to have engineers to solve the problems and increase our understading in the field.

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  »  New  Remastering (and re-locating) Gould's hummm..  Then why would they include it?...  Musical Discussions  Forum     3  15658  01-13-2008
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