Recording solo classical piano

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by John Stafford, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

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    Not really. When I record Piano in film scoring situations, I'll often use a pair of omnis (usually Schoeps MK2S or MK5) in an ORTF configuration...

    ---Ben
     
  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

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    This is so close. You do this for solo piano? The closest we get when doing a solo piano in recital or for CD is about 2.5m.

    Do you add reverb later?
     
  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

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    Here is our most recent recorded solo piano project.

    http://www.move.com.au/disc.cfm/3290

    There a couple of MP3's to listen to. A magnificent 9ft concert Steinway, with an AKG426B as main pair in pure Blumlein, of course, with B&K 4003 outriggers, AKG into NagraV mic inputs, 4003's into 9098 then into Nagra line inputs, mixed live to 44/24. Almost no mastering, poofteenth of EQ to balance sessions months apart, no added reverb.

    We were at least 2.5-3m away with the main pair and even further away with the outriggers.
     
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

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    That's a beautiful sound you've achieved there, David!

    If you didn't add any reverb yourself, I am all the more impressed with the acoustic of that theater. Amazing; what a space to have! (I can never get tired of hearing "Pictures," either.)

    That certainly sounds like an ideal "Recital" sound, and what you described for the piano mic'ing makes perfect sense. On the other hand, I'd expect a completely different sound for what Ben's describing when he says "Film score." (Maybe he can elaborate...)
     
  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

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    Sure... I wouldn't do that mic technique for a solo date as it would be too close to the instrument (I prefer a stereo mic out a bit or a pair of spaced omnis), but for Film Score, I mean recording of music for film.

    When I have a film orchestra to record, often the piano will play a central role in the sound. There will likely be a number of solos along with the ensemble work. For the big orchestral dates, the sound of the piano is big and lush, but has to be very controlled for the mixdown.

    --Ben
     
  6. bap

    bap Member

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    I thought the sound and the playing were stunning.

    By 'sound' I mean the recording, of course...
     
  7. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

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    This theatre is really stunning. We are so lucky to have recorded many many concerts in here over the last 5 years. Chamber music and string quartets in particular sound unbelievable.

    A year ago we recorded the great Quatuor Mosaiques in there, with an SF12. This recording can never be produced of course, but its one of my favourite recordings of all time. The other is the recording we did of Stephens Hough and Isserlis doing the Rachmaninov cello sonata, this was a world class performance. Same magnificent piano.

    Nagata Acoustics and Bligh Voller Architects were responsible.
    http://www.nagata.co.jp/gyoseki/brisbane-e.htm
    I think Nagata got the current job of revamping the Sydney Opera House concert hall (over Arup Acoustics) due largely to his achievements in the Con Theatre in Brisbane.

    What it allows us to do, is to test mic techniques and get fantastic feedback on each technique and how it works. This is why I love Blumlein and ribbons, but I recognise that a good hall is required.
     
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

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    These are the same folks that did Disney Hall here in LA. A pretty amazing room... Also, I've played in some of the halls they've done in Japan and they are equally good...

    --Ben
     
  9. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, my brother in law is a violinist in the Berlin Phil and he has played in the Disney Hall and says its amazing.

    My inside sources now say that Nagata and Russell Johnson (Artec) are probably the world's top acousticians for music halls. Check out the technology used in Russell Johnson's designs. He loves MASS, big concrete walls, floors for retaining bass in a hall, ie don't let it get out. This is difficult to do, apparently.

    The project pictures on this site are worth a look.

    http://www.artec-usa.com/index_projects.html
     
  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

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    Ah yes; Russell Johnson.... He's one of the acousticians/designers of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts here in Philadelphia - he was onsite for quite a while during the first year of operation in both Verizon Hall and the Perelman theater. They did a lot of listening and tweaking for at least a year, as things settled in. Both halls are 'tunable' for various types of music.

    They're fairly easy to configure, and as time goes by, they're gathering more and more data on what music sounds best in which config. You can see more at: http://www.kimmelcenter.org.
     
  11. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I am curious if you record in there and what you think. George Blood told me he thought it wasn't much more reverberant than the Academy thanks to the elimination of the ceiling resonance chambers due to cost.

    Rich
     
  12. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

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    I'm in there all the time, at least 1x per week, sometimes more depending on dress rehearsals and multiple nights. We just did a concert opera in Perelman Theater (it airs this Sunday) and one of my main clients is the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, also performing there this weekend - dress on Sat., concerts Sunday and Monday; Joseph Silverman is guest violinist & conductor.

    George does the Phila O in Verizon Hall and I see him a lot; a great, terrific guy. (His humor cracks me up whenever I run into him.) We've both rolled with the punches with Verizon (him moreso than I - I'm in Perelman much more often, while he's got a booth/room in Verizon for the Orch.).

    Verizon is much nicer than the early nervous critics were bitching about; it's got a lovely texture to record in, but in the final analysis, not a whole lot better (or worse) than the Academy of Music, just different, and it varies wildly depending on where you sit. I've done St. Olaf's Choir in there (for a broadcast), as well as various other Choral and Orchestral Groups, and again the Chamber Orch of PHila. when they play in there. It's a great place, and the inside joke is that the CHEAP seats up on the 2nd & 3rd tiers sound the best! :twisted: . (Pics are on my website under current events if you want to see more...) They can alter the resonance of the hall with a series of panels that swing in and out, closing up or opening resonant chambers up and around the shoulders of the staging area. (The hall itself is like the insides of a giant cello - the stage area near the top, or "Shoulders" of the cello.) It's all under computer control, and they've been working with it since the day it opened, generating presets and getting more adept with it as time goes by, during rehearsals and sound checks. (email me privately about Russell Johnson and co.)

    Again, the critics have not nec. been real kind to it (because it wasn't "Perfect" right out of the box), but it works nicely in general (I've have nothing but excellent results so far), and people are still flocking to the place, even after it's novelty has worn off a bit. (Two separate concert halls, under a huge dome of arched glass, with a covered plaza connecting it all.) The overall boon to the arts smack dab in the middle of Center city (on what they are now calling "The Avenue of the Arts") is incaclulable. The Academy of Music - 2 blocks up the street - is in great shape, too (totally renovated over the years, and used constantly for Ballet, Opera and Broadway shows), and the Phila Orch is performing their 148 Anniversary Concert there this Saturday, if for no other reason than nostalgia.

    Actually, there are many who never liked the sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra in there, claiming it was not a good place for a symphony orchestra, but it's arguably the very reason why/how the "Philadelphia Sound" developed. It is fundamentally an opera house, modelled/built after "La Scala" in Italy - which was no small reason why Muti had such a good time during his tenure here.

    For me it's apples and oranges, they both have their place and usefulness. I'll admit that anything we ever did at the Academy of Music tended to 'Record itself" while the Kimmel, like any other modern, multifunction space tends to require a few extras (ambient mics highly recommended out in the house, for example), and the smaller hall like the Perelman theater can be VERY dry when set for the recital (small) side with a full house. (Nowhere to hide for the artist, either! ;-) )

    I've revisited some of my older (analog & early digital) recordings from the Academy of Music, and said: "Wow, did we do THAT!?!?!" -they're that good. To be fair, the stuff from Kimmel is still too new, and I'm too close to it all. But happily, it means a lot of work for a lot people (musicians, union, ushers, etc.) and I for one am NOT complaining about the sound of either hall. I can easily work around any subjective limitations. (Never had a "bad" performance in there yet, due to acoustics, for example.)

    I've done a solo piano recording with Christopher O'Reily ("From the Top") doing his "Radiohead" tribute show in Perelman, and the results were some of the best solo piano recordings we've done yet. (It's more close-mic'd and pop-flavored than a trad classical concert, but the Steinway they have - usually reserved for Perelman - is to DIE for....the thing practially records itself; it's gorgeous.)

    Haven't done a solo recital in Verizon Hall yet, but I'm looking forward to that whenever it comes up.
     
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