Discussion in 'Pianists' started by techneut, Jan 4, 2008.
I'm trying. Is it working?!? :lol:
Nothing yet... you'll have to think harder! :lol:
During the past weekend I exchanged some emails with Claudio Colombo. I invited him to join the thread but he hedged by pleading his poor English. So, FYI (and with his blessing) I'll shortly report here what he told me about his recording procedures.
The music he records is performed by him, not MIDI-sequenced or, worse, stolen from other pianists (in spite of some of you evoking Setrak). Claudio told me he plays the piece on his digital piano, at a convenient speed (how much he slows down depends on the difficulty of the music, but he is a very good reader and long accustomed with most of the music he decides to record). In case of mistakes he remakes the recording as to the portion of music affected by the error(s). A slightly different procedure is employed when he records duos, since a metronome is needed to synchronize the additional track. He's a piano teacher and the recordings also serve educational purpose for his pupils. That's it.
Maybe we should have this site in both English and in Italian :wink: Then he has no excuses!
plays the piece on his digital piano digital piano, at a convenient speed
Playing into some form of MIDI sequencer/recorder, and presumably then speeds up the pulse rate of the MID-playback device? This is of course a form of MIDI-sequencing and thus is a sort of 'faked performance,' as instead of entering the notes/chords via a computer keyboard/mouse, they are entered using a keyboard controller. Therefore it is not live piano-playing, as any competent pianist could produce astounding recordings the most difficult repertoire using this method. The results of such an exercise are not readily comparable to that of a live player, as is immediately apparent to any listener familiar with renditions of the same material by pianists able to play live at the written tempo. I am sure Signore Colombo is a good pianist, teacher and all-round very nice chap, but to use the word perform, in the context of repertoire (recorded at 'comfortable' speeds and then brought to tempo by artificial means), is not one bereft of ambiguity.
In case of mistakes he remakes the recording as to the portion of music affected by the error(s)
It is well known that many/most classical studio recordings are edited in this fashion (one good version cobbled together out of a variety of 'takes'), so this has been accepted practice for many years (since the technology has made it possible and practically undetectable.) It is very rare that a pianist's performance might be made up many thousands of individual notes and chords edited together, which would be the extreme example (but a comparable one) to that of entering information into a MIDI-sequencer at a reduced tempo for later reproduction sped up by electronic means. On a specific note, I wouldn't think it unreasonable to discover that a recording here (of a substantial and perhaps obviously sectional work) was in fact the result of various takes then edited together using appropriate software. In my view that would still be valid as the recording was essentially 'live.'
The allusion with Setrak was a bit unfortunate. It is very clear that Colombo's tracks are not ripped - no pianist worth his/her salt would play so flat and mechanically.
The 'convenient speed' thing bothers me, I agree with Michael that this procedure does not warrant the term performance. As study objects, they are fine of course. Note that there is very good speed-adjustment software available, the format does not even have to be MIDI. The result is almost undetectable, I think.
I still find the sheer number of his recordings hard to get my head around though. I mean, all Scarlatti's sonatas, Alkan's complete op.31 preludes, the complete Bach WTC and Goldberg, all the Beethoven-Liszt symphonies, the complete Shostakovich Op.87, the complete Bartok For Children and Mikrokosmos, concerti, orchestra and chamber music transcriptions, 4-hand and two-piano repertoire... :shock: Give me a break. It seems impossible for one person to play and record all this and much more, even with the indicated procedures. If there's anything he has not recorded yet, I am sure he is working on it. But maybe the man is superhuman, never sleeps, and has unlimited time besides his teaching, biking, and web-selling activities.
Hmmm... just to play devil's advocate for a minute...
Idil Biret did the complete recordings of all the piano works of Brahms, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff...
And all 9 of the Beethoven-Liszt symphony transcriptions... among numerous other works.
However... the difference would be that Idil plays like a human. Sometimes, her recordings aren't perfect. (Ex. Rachmaninoff's Humoresque... unbearably slow, especially when compared to Rachmaninoff's recordings of the piece. And his 3rd piano concerto... the cadenza was played like molasses.)
Having a down-to-earth mindset, I don't bother too much about the way things are done, I usually look at the results. What are the results in Colombo's case, compared to the aim he's set himself? A website with a wealth of music offered for free (note that you have to pay only for the hires MP3's, so you pay for the audio quality, not for the music per se). He doesn't go around claiming that he is a great pianist with the hugest repertoire after Sviatoslav Richter. He is in fact very low profile under this respect. He seems to tell you: do you like the way the music I record is played? Download it and be happy! Don't? Leave it there, buy a CD instead or perform it yourself.
So what? Recording artists are inherently assessed on their recordings, as recitalists are judged by their live performances. We are speaking of two partially different crafts (and let me add that in my dictionary "pianist" means someone who can play live), not directly comparable.
It's so difficult to draw the line when the use of technology comes to being unfair!
Having a down-to-earth mindset, I don't bother too much about the way things are done, I usually look at the results.
With respect, I'm not sure that is being "down-to-earth" as such, and frankly it is not an attitude that I would much admire from, for example, the International Olympics Committee . Of course the methods by which results are achieved are not to be overlooked in any creative (or indeed sporting) activity.
do you like the way the music I record is played? Download it and be happy!
The answer is no, but I suppose I can't really see the point of it either. It seems like a monumental waste of time and effort; perhaps he was a data-entry clerk in a previous job, or something that started as an experimental hobby then became an obssession. Why bother spending thousands of hours producing what are ultimately fairly mediocre representations of the composers' musical efforts, in spite of (or perhaps due to) the recourse to technological wizardry, rather than sticking to repertoire that one is technically capable of playing at the indicated tempo, and maybe even introduce a little personal interpretation and feeling?
OK, these files are free for the most part, so but is a lot of other material on the internet these days. Free sites like here provide hobbyists and artists the chance to interact with others and even to promote themselves, but the material provided is assumed, on trust and by evaluation, to have some kind of artistic integrity.
Don't? Leave it there, buy a CD instead or perform it yourself.
I could not agree more. That of course doesn't stop me having an opinion about it . Paying for the output of a real artist (either a CD or buying a ticket to a live recital), or indeed learning and performing the music oneself, are certainly more admirable options than downloading computer-generated representations, if indeed we wish the arts to continue with some kind of valid manner.
It's so difficult to draw the line when the use of technology comes to being unfair!
Indeed. Artist input in real time is still pretty much a pre-requisite, and is of course essential for live performance. Most editing done in recording studios is to get "the best of the best" rather than trying to compensate for basic deficiencies (such as not being able to play the notes at the desired tempo.) Even those who retreated exclusively into the recording studio (e.g. Gould) had shown for many years their live performing abilities. I suppose the most notable example of a 'recording-only' artist would be the (in)famous Joyce Hatto
The Olympics Committee?! Oh come on, then pianists like Sofronitsky, François, and I suspect more than a few other ones, should have been banned for doping. After all, indeed pianists ought to be treated like sportpersons, that's why records are called that way. :lol: Sorry, with as much respect, I think that your analogy doesn't work.
That's my view too, but I believe everyone is entitled to do whatever he or she likes according to the harm principle (oh boys, I'm quoting Mill against a Brit), and I don't see any harm in Colombo's conduct.
I don't think so. On PS we have at least 2 examples of (more or less heavily) MIDI sequenced music. John Grant's Well Tempered Clavier is one of the finest interpretations I know and I know a couple of dozens ("interpretation" and not "performance" to stick to your judicious remark). Teppei Yamada-Scriba conceives his musical ideas out of thin air and then renderes them on his disklavier. Are they cheating? Again, I don't think so. They state what they try to achieve and the way they do it. You can just decide if you take it or leave it.
What about art design? Objects are manufactured by machines, designed with CAD or, better, VR systems and just the concept, which is of course the best part and the one that makes an item unique, pertains to a human being (for now :wink.
You won't really appreciate GG's late recordings only on the basis that he formerly proved to be a great live performer, will you? No, don't tell, I'm afraid of what I may hear.
Quite unfair of you. Joyce Hatto was not at all a recording artist, but a fraud perpetrated by a man, as someone jokingly said, who mistook his wife for a Hatto. So I have to dismiss it as not relevant here. :wink:
with as much respect, I think that your analogy doesn't work.
I know, that's why it was accompanied by a . We Brits call it 'irony'
However, the overall idea that "only results" count is still a doubful one to my mind.
On PS we have at least 2 examples of (more or less heavily) MIDI sequenced music
It is well explained on the PS site how Mr Teppei Yamada-Scriba composes and records his music, and how Mr Grant engages in less or more ex post facto editing of his playing. This agrees with a policy of disclosure and integrity. As far as I can see (and I have a reasonable reading knowledge of Italian), nowhere on Mr Colombo's site does it state that these "recordings" are MIDI-input and then sped up. And to describe the payable 192kbs mp3 files as "CD audio quality" is stretching the truth quite a bit as well.
You won't really appreciate GG's late recordings only on the basis that he formerly proved to be a great live performer, will you?
Not really the point I was making. The aim of that example is that Gould was indeed capable of performing live, but renounced from playing in public for reasons other than not being able to play the pieces concerned and having to record them in slow motion and speed them up afterwards.
the (in)famous Joyce Hatto
Quite unfair of you.
Again, I plead guilty to irony (and/or perhaps even sarcasm )
Yes, I heard about it. :lol:
I agree on both points.
Yet (as a sidenote) some critics used to doubt he could still play after his concert drop-out.
Don't indulge in it!
Don't indulge in it!
It is difficult to fight against such deep-rooted cultural predispositions, but I'll try to do my best in future!
Annnnd… hello from the world of the future! Or at least from the world of posting on an old topic after a couple of years have gone by.
I just purchased Colombo's recording of the Nutcracker ballet, and was partway through when the sheer lack of affect started to make me wonder what was going on. I had the impression, as have several here, that I was listening to a well-groomed midi file in which no artistic decisions had been made, and no feeling had been expended. The piano sounds electronic too, though it's certainly not bad as such things go.
So I was pleased to find out what was actually going on from the group here. It's really an "uncanny valley" recording, with nothing wrong with any part of it, but an off-putting mechanical nature. I hear there's a program you can apply to midi files to make them seem more like natural performances — maybe that's what's needed here. I wonder if I'd have used up my last emusic download of the month for it if I'd known what I'd be getting, but it's too late for that now!
I don't suppose Chris Breemer would feel like recording this ballet? I'd gladly replace the recording I just paid for with his rendition, and no questions asked.
That is a topic bump indeed :!: None of these posters are still here, except me. It was an interesting discussion though.
Did you not sample some of Colombo's recordings before buying then ? It would turn any music lover off, I think, unless you only want to hear how all the notes sound. He's good at putting them all neatly in a row ;-)
Hehe, no, I have no plans for recording the Nutcracker suite, much as I love the ballet. Not sure what exactly Colombo is playing,
I guess someone's transcriptions of selected items ? AFAIK there is no version by the composer.
"AFAIK"???? :?: :?: :?: :?
Yeah I know.... All that I know is that I don't know much
Good to see you back Scott.
I think Scott is wondering what AFIAK means, which is an acronym for As Far As I Know.
Ah right, I did not know that. I just like to toss around acronyms :lol:
Thanx for translating, Monica.
Separate names with a comma.