AUDIO EXPERIENCE FROM FRANCE
My choice of albums was motivated in part by my personal preferences—they are works or renditions that I really like and that I have listened to many a time. However, I also chose certain albums for more logical reasons:
On this sublime album and magnificent recording, beautiful piano harmonies make an appearance in the very first piece. The piano comes alive; Paul Bley’s musical approach is based as much in the intimate nature of his music as in his clear desire to fully exploit his piano’s capabilities. He unfurls harmonies, and his tones have a richness that is palpable. Other pieces offer up to us the range of the piano’s bass, which includes frequencies that are infrequently used. Across the systems I auditioned, the execution of the harmonies remained striking, but the acoustics of his grand piano were only revealed when I markedly increased component quality.
Concerto Branbebourgeois, JB Bach
This is an ideal album to test how dynamic a system is and how it renders musical notes. I also like this work because the tones produced by the stringed instruments of the period really stand out, expressing themselves via their unique, ancient acoustics. Moving between sets of speakers, it was perfectly clear to me that different speakers exposed the tonal richness differently.
The Oscar Peterson Trio, We Get Requests
Is this anything better than this major jazz classic to draw attention to the bass? The depth of the bow work in track 6 can play a crucial role if you want to get an idea of the bass’s performance. Fingers plucking at the double bass’s strings—here you can savor a more subtle touch. Once again, it’s all about characterizing the bass, what bass? I have to say here that it is possible to give the bass a touch of color.
Alain Bashung, Osez Joséphine
This is an album that really rocks, a rather exceptional recording. The audio images are demanding—there are many instruments, creating a musical landscape in which each instrument needs to be properly situated in order to achieve equilibrium. A requirement not so easy to meet…
Pergolesi, Stabat Mater, Sebatian Hennig, René Jacobs
This album lifts you up…to the high-pitched frequencies; it is the musical equivalent of the Alps. You can always make it to the top, but what state will you be in when you arrive? The powerful voice of the female singer makes rare demands, and therefore, I feel it is an absolute must in listening tests. From oversaturation to crystalline clarity, how far will you go?
Jean Louis Trintignant, Vian, Prévert, Desnos
Although the French actor is accompanied by two musicians (Daniel Mile and Kortiluk), I am most interested in the timbre of his voice, which is so moving. No, it is not music. Yes, it is a voice, but what a voice, how superbly it has been recorded. As I moved from one system to the next, the voice’s presence was more or less alive. We are not quite in the realm of performance, but rather one of presence—this work embodies his spirit.
Michel Godard, Monteverdi, A Trace of Grace
It was audacious—recording a serpent (the ancestor of the tuba) in an abbey with echoing acoustics. In addition to having to be graceful, it also meant rendering the natural acoustics of the location without losing any of the instrumentals, an interesting challenge…
I also used a couple of other pieces from a few other albums, which varied depending on my mood; these are pieces I know particularly well since I was nearby, in the studio, when the albums were being recorded.