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Discussion: Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 - Rubinstein

Posts: 4

Post by akiralx August 17, 2005 (1 of 4)
Thanks to Ramesh for another detailed review.

I was just reading the Gramophone review of an early CD issue (from 1987), and the reviewer identifies one sonic failing as that the strings drown the piano in the F minor (No. 2)! Obviously the balance sounds different on SACD.

Post by flyingdutchman August 17, 2005 (2 of 4)
Good review. However, Rameshl, could you put a couple of spaces between paragraphs? It would make for easier reading.

Post by nickc August 18, 2005 (3 of 4)
akiralx said:

Thanks to Ramesh for another detailed review.

I was just reading the Gramophone review of an early CD issue (from 1987), and the reviewer identifies one sonic failing as that the strings drown the piano in the F minor (No. 2)! Obviously the balance sounds different on SACD.

I'll second that thought - at the risk of turning this into a love-in I love your reviews and posts!
If you don't mind me asking what is the book that you are writing at the moment?
Cheers
Nick

Post by ramesh August 19, 2005 (4 of 4)
Hi Akiralx,
Thanks for pointing out the 'Gramophone' review, which I wasn't aware of. I got quite a surprise logging on to Gramofile and reading it yesterday. In case I was leading readers astray, I've listened to the SACD again. I can't really say the recording overwhelms the piano. The piano line is quite clear in both concerti, with the caveat that the bass notes can get muffled by the midrange. However, I heard more of the piano part than when I last heard the Chopin concerti in the concert hall, about three years ago. This of course raises the question of artificial balances in concerti, generally. One would guess a recording which intermittently obscures the soloist, whether piano or strings, is actually being more faithful to 'reality'.

On reflection, I feel I can hear more of a soloist in a high resolution medium, even if the mix is the same, than on the CD layer. Presumably, the sonic cues of unadulterated high frequencies, and superior low level resolution, allow one to hear a solo line through thick and thin more easily. There's a glow to the keyboard sound here, even in the 1958 recording, which carries the ear through the orchestra. The converse is the difficulty of hearing the soloist in older recordings, especially the violin. I'm thinking here of CDs like of Huberman in the violin concerti. Even Heifetz's violin was compromised in the RCA CD of his 1941 Beethoven with Toscanini, though it was astonishing how much of the detail was resurrected by the relatively recent Naxos retransfer.
In fact, this makes me wonder why audiophile journalists, when they write about low resolution detail of some hifi wonder, wax eloquent about trivia such as hall reflections, along the lines of, 'This equipment/recording was so amazing, I could mark the sides of the recording venue with measuring tape' etc. Who cares about hall reflections? I presume a videophile reviewer would say one of the advantages of high definition, is that one can see more faithfully the spittle spraying out of a singer belting along at full throttle.


Hi Nick!
Hope to beg Zeus's indulgence. Yes, the book is my debut literary novel, which I've been writing off and on for the past few years. The reviews here are written for relaxation, when I can wind down into first or second gear, to allow the rest of the brain to cool down.

You may be interested to know the work is set in Australia, 1999; with detours to China, Indonesia, and New York. The major theme of the work is globalization. It concerns a pair of sisters who have inherited a family company, but are bitterly divided as to whether to abandon the Aussie workers, to outsource it to China. This split is reflected in their lovers. The men grew up as student radicals in Australia during the era of the Vietnam War. One rejected his socialist past, and has become a wealthy business consultant, with an office in the World Trade Center, NY. The symbolism is obvious. He comes back to Aussie, falls in love with one sister, and persuades her to shift production to China, because this is the way of globalization.

This nauseates the other guy, who's dating the other sister. This sister is the romantic idealist, who believes that society should be more than merely about economics. She's also an artist. Hence, I'm representing the two warring factions in contemporary society; the neoconservatives, who believe that economics is the guiding function in modern society, and economic 'law' can no more be modified than gravity; versus the humanists. The lover of the artist is a film maker like the American, Mike Moore. Just as Moore in 'Bowling for Columbine' went to confront Charlton Heston with his membership card of the National Rifle Association, and asked awkward questions, my character loves to shock. He makes films on issues like Agent Orange's impact on Aussie vets. One of his films is called, 'Quest for the Ashes!' This is actually about the radioactive fallout ( hence, Ashes) at the UK nuclear test site at Maralinga, but it also puns on the cricket series. His film poses the question as to why the English have kept the cricketing Ashes in London even when Aussie has won them, but when it comes to the radioactive ashes in Maralinga, this has been covered over and forgotten. His 'Charlton Heston' stunt, is to travel to London, to meet the English establishment at an England-Aussie test match at Lords, pretending to make a documentary on the cricketing Ashes. What he's actually done, is to fill a score of Ashes urn replicas with radioactive fallout he's dug up from Maralinga, fly British Airways to London, and present the unsuspecting British politicians with these urns, without revealing their true nature till the film comes out! This is merely a diverting subplot in the novel.

Setting the novel in pre-SACD 1999 is to make it a symbolic millennial novel, about social and national identity in a world where globalization is both eroding national distinctions, and aggravating them, by allowing easier travel for terrorists.
The lefty filmmaker enlists the nascent antiglobal movement, which would cause the famous WTO riots at Seattle at the end of 1999, to similarly riot at the factory. Naturally, this doesn't go down well with the others.
The reason I've written this down, is that I haven't got around to getting a reputable Australian, nor American or British agent for the manuscript, so if anyone can help… In fact, I could do with readers who are experienced in reading serious literary novels. There are quite a few references to Western literature and visual art in it, not as much about classical music because it is one of my weaker subjects.

Where I live is a dead loss for the preceding point! One amusing anecdote: I thought of enlisting the help of the local music society I belong to, as classical music is generally the preserve of the chattering classes, to be neutral readers of my first draft. However, for some reason I hadn't been invited to any of the other members' houses. So, I phoned the secretary, and said, "Hey, I've been the only nonAryan member of the New Zealand Wagner Society in the ten years it's been around. How come I haven't been invited to anyone's house, as I'd love to discuss the ideas in the novel I've just told you about?" There was a stifled pause at the other end, until she replied with something along the lines of, "Uh, Ramesh, we're all terribly busy people. I've noticed, you're quite an articulate person, and when New Zealanders meet someone younger like you out of the blue, who seems to know a bit more than them, they feel a bit threatened. It's nothing personal." !!
Cheers!

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