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Which Churches have the best acoustics for choral & classical music recording?

Discussion in 'Orchestra' started by gentlevoice, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. gentlevoice

    gentlevoice Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Location:
    Denmark
    Hi All,

    I'm slowly moving in the direction of being ready to record and to this end have started looking into which acoustic environments best support recording the kind of music I'd like to record, i.e. classical music in its many forms.

    To this end I recently found an article by Leo Beranek (attached) which both subjectively and objectively describes some of the concert halls that are considered the best for classical music. I've recently visited the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and - possibly in line with the findings of the article - find it to be very good in many respects.

    However, one of my main wishes is to record classical choral music in churches. I've searched for a similar article on "best churches for classical recording" but have not really found any with an identical approach. Which brings me to my point: Any of you know if there is such an article that describes (preferably both subjectively & objectively) which churches are considered the best for classical recordings?

    Thanks for any help - & cheers from Denmark (y)

    Jesper
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Home Page:
    Hi Jesper, and welcome!

    I've done very many recordings of baroque and classical music in churches in the UK, and would say from my experience that there is no style of church (or cathedral) that is "best" for every type of music and performer types. A building that may work well for recording a Biber violin sonata may sound like mud when trying to record the Tallis 40-part motet Spem in alium set out for spaced choir groups. It also makes a difference as to whether you are setting up for a pure recording session or you are recording a public concert.

    With this in mind, I have never seen a useful general guide to recording in churches. I say I have not seen a useful one, because there are very many articles and descriptions describing in agonising detail the problems encountered by engineers recording a particular performer (or set of performers) in one particular church, but these are not about how you should approach the topic in general.

    The exception to this is recording of church organs, where there is a lot of very interesting and helpful information available. We used to have a fellow UK contributer to these forums who went under the name of 0VU, and he gave some of the most useful posts (e.g. this one and this one) I have ever read on the topic. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal that translates from good solo organ recording techniques to chamber concert recording.

    Can you tell us a little more about the type of vocal or instrumental groups you are aiming to record, and also the period of music that you specialise in?
     
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  3. Keith Johnson

    Keith Johnson Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    Like Boswell says, there's no one size fits all...that's where the fun lays ;)

    ...and to compound some of the things that 0VU said in the linked threads, whenever I have a conversation like this with him, his answer is almost invariably "it depends"!
     
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  4. gentlevoice

    gentlevoice Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Location:
    Denmark
    Hi Boswell & Keith,

    Thank you both for your feedback - reading your comments and also OVU's posts is interesting reading ... and not entirely surprising that it can be challenging to setup for recordings in various church venues and for various pieces of music.

    @Boswell:
    I would mostly aim to record baroque (Bach cantatas, concerts, & possibly the passions; Haendel oratorios, concerts, others as well!!), First Viennese School (Mozart Masses/Requiem, Haydn, Beethoven), CPE Bach, Pergolesi Stabat Mater, and much more as life permits ... I probably would only very rarely record an organ since organ music otherwise is not my main source of inspiration ...

    I'm aware that from an acoustical point of view (and musical!) these are very different pieces of music and optimally may require quite different acoustical environments. However, I recently visited the Jesus Christus Kirche in Dahlem, Berlin, and besides noticing an unusual acoustic setting (very high intelligibility and nuance even when only being two persons in the church, speaking) I also noticed that e.g. Karajan, Abbado, Furtwängler & violinists like Anne Sophie Mutter & Gidon Kremer have recorded here:

    http://www.kg-dahlem.de/index.php?id=94

    I reckon that these diverse recordings have been possible because this particular church (which is relatively young - begun in 1930) has an acoustic which somehow supports different types of music performances and recordings.

    To this end I've recently heard RIAS Kammerchor's CPE Bach recording which was recorded in this church. IMHO a reasonably good recording in terms of spatial information and a room acoustics that particularly in the upper frequencies appears to be quite well behaved ...

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K8MYNQG/?tag=r06fa-20

    Well, I had hoped that there would be an article or a paper describing churches with recognized good acoustics for recordings of e.g. the music mentioned above. Like Beranek's article. However, if this is not the case I take it individual adjustments will be needed. Not yet having made my first recording I notice a degree of humbleness inside - no doubt challenges will appear.

    Thanks again for your feedback ;-)

    Jesper
     
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    Hey guys, with the incertainty of how good a venue will sound with a certain ensemble of instruments compared to others.
    How often do you think movie music producers choose to record in a rather small studio and add artificial reverb(s) ?
    I mean, room simulators are getting better everyday and recording on site in a big hall or Church adds a lot of work and planning to do.
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Other than the odd exception... > Movie production... 99% of the time. I don't see how any large or small studio could ever compete (sonically or financially). With the huge, lush sound we get from libraries and room emulation like a Bricasti M7, you would be naive to think otherwise.

    The days of thinking large studios were a necessity to produce soundtracks (especially room ambience) likely started dropping off at least 25 years ago. Sad for musicians, win win for everything else. But, your question was about movie production, not listening to a beautiful production of a symphony etc. Nothing is better or more real than the real thing.
    http://www.bricasti.com/en/pro/testamonials.php

    Christopher Stone produced this ITB years ago.



     
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