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Thread: A tribute to a fabulous recording - Benjamin Britten's 'Peter Grimes'

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUG-1 View Post
    Can you give us an point on the score where we can compare yours with ours?
    I don't have the score but in the first a capella duet between Peter and Ellen in their first meeting in Act 1 there's distortion when they sing in unison on the higher notes.

    Also in most of the chorus parts where they are forte.
    Last edited by JJack; 30-11-2011 at 06:44 PM. Reason: more info

  2. #22
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    Wonderful post and thank you very much to Alan....This bring me back to very early 1990s when I just fell in love with Bizet's Carmen Solti/LPO full opera in cassettes and the recording engineer is Kenneth Wilkinson. The cassettes were a copy of 3CDs set from a Pioneer midi hifi belong to my friend (I did not have CD player and also the CD is belong to a friend's brother). And later that I heard this superb sound recording of Peter Crimes sample tracks in The Decca Sound album released by Taiwan Decca.
    "Bath in Music"

  3. #23
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    Well, thanks to all for wresting me away from my Verdi/Puccini mindset with this wonderful opera. Heading to the record store to what other Britten operas I can find

  4. #24
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    Default Gramophone review

    This very performance was recently featured in the Gramophone magazine archives: http://www.gramophone.net/Page/View/...Peter%20Grimes

    With the 50th anniversary of Benjamin Britten's recording of Peter Grimes approaching, we unearth the glowing review from the October 1959 edition of Gramophone. The recording is now available on Decca Legends.
    Accompanying article about the "new" stereo recording processes used: http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page...IMES+IN+STEREO

    In the same issue, Eric Smith of Decca records wrote about the new recording processes being developed in the early days of stereo, employed in the Britten recording.

  5. #25
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    Must say I prefer the original mastered CD.
    Sometimes mastering to 96 Khz then reconverting back to 44.1 seems to lose something in the process, musicality?. If they issued an Audio DVD disc of the 96 Khz mastering (not a DVD-A) then that could be of real interest, but unfortunately for many companies the focus seems to be on downloads. Now a high quality AAA LP......

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmatter View Post
    Sometimes mastering to 96 Khz then reconverting back to 44.1 seems to lose something in the process, musicality?
    It is possible to convert from one to the other, in either direction, without the slightest trace of audible difference - I regularly do so.

    Could someone please point me to the 96kHz release of the 1958 'Peter Grimes.

  7. #27
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    You can see in amazon or decca page

    http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Grimes-B...9056718&sr=1-3
    "Bath in Music"

  8. #28
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    Default Update - a visit to Aldeburgh 2012

    We thought we'd take a few day's holiday in the east of England, on the Suffolk coast. I fulfilled an ambition to visit Benjamin Britten's home town, and the setting for Peter Grimes. It was immediately obvious how the composer was immersed in the life of the sea and those who lived on and from her.

    To complete this tribute (for now, anyway) I've gathered together a few more writings on the recording which are attached. Opera is, of course, a highly personal matter but if you have no experience of opera, want to be able to follow along in English, and to thrill yourself with the stereo presentation, this is the one to have. It is 100% 'accessible' from the first notes.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  9. #29
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    How did you like Alderburgh?, as well as massive Benjamin Britten fan. I used to live in Aldringham, on Alderburgh Road which is just a mile or so from Alderburgh itself for a few years before moving to the States.
    I remember cycling regularly to the famous fish and chip shop near the front . The Sunday Times once in an article called '100 things you must do in Great Britain' listed eating these fish and chips on the beach as number two!! on the list... only being beaten by visting Stonehenge!

    Did you manage to see other local spots, Snape, Orford? Any pics?... I'm suddenly all nostalgic!

  10. #30
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    Default Out and about in Aldeburgh

    What a small world it is!

    Picture attached of me outside Moot Hall, Aldeburgh two weeks ago. This ancient hall is right on the beach and has survived the weather for over five hundred years. It is about 50 years older than Harbeth R&D facility with a similar wood beam construction. I'll prepare more pictures.

    The significance of Moot Hall is that it features prominently in the story of Peter Grimes. What I didn't appreciate was that two years after the first performance (1945) Britten moved to a large house a few hundred yards down the same road from the hall. Imagine the composer looking on to or walking past the hall every day and the hearing words, bars of music, seeing stage directions flashing through his mind from what is generally considered to the the pinnacle of British opera.

    Yes the fish and chip shop. Along the high street? We actually parked opposite and remarked an the long queue. Had we known .... unfortunately I'd had a very enjoyable scone at the Wentworth hotel opposite the hall and couldn't face fish and chips!

    We then went to The Maltings concert hall and would have visited Britten's The Red House (which with some difficulty we eventually found) but it is closed for building works: a new visitor centre is under construction. The perfect excuse to make a return visit!

    >
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  11. #31
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    Thanks for the pic Alan. Aldeburgh really is a magical place as is all the surrounding areas, still very unspoiled ( no arcades etc) Yes the Fish and chips on the high street always has a long queue. The Wentworth teas though are a very worthy alternative!

    Wanted to mention if you haven't already seen it. That the current episode of Country tracks available on the bbc iplayer is all about Suffolk and includes a short but interesting segment on Benjamin Britten.

  12. #32
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    Thanks for posting the photo Alan lovely area of Suffolk, Benjamin Britten was born fairly close to where I live and hopefully the town will recognise his centenary on 22 November 2013 :)

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwwk View Post
    You can see in amazon or decca page

    http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Grimes-B...9056718&sr=1-3
    UK link for interest

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Britten-Pete...3666253&sr=1-2

  14. #34
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    Default 'Peter Grimes' in Hong Kong

    I've just noticed that Peter Grimes is to be performed in Hong Kong ...

    Saturday 19 May 2012: Peter Grimes
    Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra / Johannes Wildner Hong Kong, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong

    I fully appreciate that opera is a highly personal experience - but Grimes is considered to the the greatest British opera. Sung in English (obviously) it is sure to be a sonic spectacular and if this is the only British music you ever experience, it will be worth it. You will see home hi-fi in a new light after this night out.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  15. #35
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    Default Grimes in London, June 2012

    and also in London in June.

    Saturday 30 June 2012: Peter Grimes
    Royal Orchestra Society for Amateur Musicians / Orlando Jopling London, St John's, Smith Square, United Kingdom

    I wonder if we could make this a 'Harbeth Field Trip'?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  16. #36
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    Are these photos from the booklet that came with the LP box set? I've only got the CD version which has a few but not all of the photos and I haven't been able to find them elsewhere.

  17. #37
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    Default Peter Grimes, Live from Royal Albert Hall, 24 August 2012

    I missed the first Act but stumbled across Act 2 when tuning in to BBC Radio 3 for the evening programming. A marvellous performance made all the better I think because the performers were not required to act - just sing. Having recently bought the musical manuscript for Peter Grimes (from Boosey & Hawkes) it was the first time I'd followed the score - not something you could do in the hall - but in the comfort of your home, a real treat.

    Anyway, here are a couple of clips from the BBC HD live feed.

    Loading the player ...
    Act 2 clip

    Loading the player ...
    Act 3 clip
    Notice in this clip how clean the dialogue is, yet it is not 'bright' in the way that an audiophile may deem correct. It is beautifully captured.

    Now we can compare the 1958 original recording (release on LP in 1959) directly with the same passage from last night, a gap of 54 years ....

    (to follow)
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  18. #38
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    Default Comparing recordings made a half-century apart ....

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ...Now we can compare the 1958 original recording directly with the same passage from last night, a gap of 54 years ....
    There are so many points at which we could compare the original 1958 recording with last night's recording, it's hard to decide what excerpts to pick. However, we should try and sidestep the difference in musical presentation (which is a matter of personal taste) from that of recording balance, recording clarity and dynamic range*. Or are they all bound up together in an inseparable experience which defies distillation in to component parts? You must decide.

    From a purely technical consideration, comparing a 1958 recording to analogue tape (via its subsequent digitisation in the mid 1980s) off CD with a high definition all-digital 2012 recording should, if we believe that there has been any improvement in audio fidelity, yield a 'night and day' experience shouldn't it. Remembering my earlier comments that all the (tube) recording equipment used to make the original Grimes recording was completely obsolete and broken-up and buried along with thousands of tons of domestic rubbish in a anonymous landfill sites at least a quarter century ago, if the hyperbole that the audio industry floats on has any truth then the latest, greatest, digital recording with high-def ADCs direct to hard disk etc. etc. must be clearly superior in every way. It must be! It surely cannot be possible that a recording made in the first year of stereo sound with the crude equipment - and especially the extremely limited capabilities of first generation analogue recording tape - could have any pretence of fidelity? Or could it be that those brilliant engineers, now long departed, squeezed every drop of performance out of their simple equipment, that they sweated blood to make a sonic miracle? Let's find out.

    Here are two examples of the same excerpt from Peter Grimes. One is from the original (not 'remastered') CD transfer and the other from the BBC broadcast. I've tried adjusting the tempo to better align them but cannot. You are hearing the original '58 recording (from CD) v. the Aug. 2012 recording which uses state of the art digital technology from microphones to home listener via the internet. It's not possible to precisely set the replay loudness so that the two clips are technically the same, but they are of about equal loudness.

    Any comments on these? Any preferences? Is one more entertaining, perhaps more attractive? Is one more technically correct? Can you de-construct the sound to draw any conclusions about the relative bass/mid/top energy balance? What do you think would sound closer to what you would hear if you stood by the conductor in the respective halls**? Does this example throw any light on the progress in recording practice and equipment over the fifty years between these recordings? Can one (should one?) draw wider conclusions about audiophile listener preferences from these short clips? Are some sonic features more interesting on one clip than another? Is a studio recording a very different animal to a live broadcast with its complexities and variables? Your opinion is welcomed - there are no absolutely 'right' answers of course!

    Loading the player ...
    Clip 1


    Loading the player ...
    Clip 2


    * Dynamic range: a fancy way of saying very low background noise and a good peak loudness capability, so that there is a good working loudness range between the loudest possible sound and the quietest sound just above the noise floor.

    ** Composer Benjamin Britten was himself the conductor for one of the two recordings.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  19. #39
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    Default Listening opinion #1

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    There are so many points at which we could compare the original 1958 recording with last night's recording, it's hard to decide what excerpts to pick. However, we should try and sidestep the difference in musical presentation (which is a matter of personal taste) from that of recording balance, recording clarity and dynamic range*. Or are they all bound up together in an inseparable experience which defies distillation in to component parts? You must decide.

    From a purely technical consideration, comparing a 1958 recording to analogue tape .......

    Here are two examples of the same excerpt from Peter Grimes. One is from the original (not 'remastered') CD transfer and the other from the BBC broadcast. I've tried adjusting the tempo to better align them but cannot. You are hearing the original '58 recording (from CD) v. the Aug. 2012 recording which uses state of the art digital technology from microphones to home listener via the internet. It's not possible to precisely set the replay loudness so that the two clips are technically the same, but they are of about equal loudness.

    Any comments on these? Any preferences? Is one more entertaining, perhaps more attractive? Is one more technically correct? Can you de-construct the sound to draw any conclusions about the relative bass/mid/top energy balance? What do you think would sound closer to what you would hear if you stood by the conductor in the respective halls**? Does this example throw any light on the progress in recording practice and equipment over the fifty years between these recordings? Can one (should one?) draw wider conclusions about audiophile listener preferences from these short clips? Are some sonic features more interesting on one clip than another? Is a studio recording a very different animal to a live broadcast with its complexities and variables? Your opinion is welcomed - there are no absolutely 'right' answers of course!......
    I've listened to both recordings several times now flipping back and forth as quickly as possible. These are my subjective impressions...

    Recording clip 1: I preferred the performance of this recording relative to the other. It actually does seem "fuller" sounding, but I don't know if that is the result of mic placement, venue or microphone???

    On the flip side someone could say that recording clip 2 sounds more "spacious" and has more ambience. Again, I am under the impression that this probably has more to do with the venues acoustics? It's hard to tell "which" aspects of the recordings' sound are the result of analog or digital. Maybe an interesting experiment would to have two setups record the same event, one digital and one analog, level match then compare--

    Regardless, to answer Alan's questions. I prefer clip #1, but to be honest clip #2 sounds more "live" (spacious) to me and has more low-level detail.

  20. #40
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    Default A generally-applicable explanation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zemlya View Post
    ... Recording clip 1: I preferred the performance of this recording relative to the other. It actually does seem "fuller" sounding, but I don't know if that is the result of mic placement, venue or microphone???

    On the flip side someone could say that recording clip 2 sounds more "spacious" and has more ambience. Again, I am under the impression that this probably has more to do with the venues acoustics? It's hard to tell "which" aspects of the recordings' sound are the result of analog or digital....
    I am most appreciative of the time you've taken to consider the clips and then to reply. I am only able to make time to continue to contribute (mainly late in the evenings) if, self-evidently, what I write about is of some general worth. If it isn't then I'm talking to myself. And that I do not do. The purpose of the HUG is to build a common-sense archive that will outlive all of us, and that needs input from members.

    OK that's a really well considered response to the two clips. Considering the (emotional) divide between those who detest 'digital' and embrace 'analogue' and keep the turntables spinning, can you recognise characteristics in clip 1 or 2 which could perhaps be generally applied as an explanation of why some listeners take-up such rigid positions on analogue v. digital.

    What do you think?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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