Sunday, February 13, 2011

Good vs. Great musicianship

The Difference between good and GREAT in classical music is an online article comparing two recordings of Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony. This is one truly great listening experience, because the given sound samples can be paused, then you can listen to a short section on the other recording (good vs. GREAT!) and then re-start the paused recording.
A fabulous instant-listening educational experience for all musicians.
Take a listen:

The lyricism and emotive power of the Chicago Symphony interpretation is immediately apparent. And check out the complexity of the characters in the woodwinds!
Just love this.

Best, Jen
Comments (6)
Anonymous Jerry Pritchard said...

Jen, Great comparison listening.

Both are super fine orchestras, but just with different personalities of players and conductor. (I agree the tempos were stodgy and their wasn't as much drama in the Dutch recording--that's the conductor's interpretation. ) I love the sound of the Chicago Symphony winds but the strings always seem opulent but a little mushy and lacking in brilliance on recordings--though they play with amazing ensemble and technique and have lots of presence when heard live in Orchestra Hall.

I especially like the blend, clarity and openness of the sound of the NRO woodwinds. They also seem more rhythmic. The CSO winds are more sololistic and have individual character with lots of musical expression.

I think the most striking comparison and differences, though, are the physical setting and the acoustics of the recording process. The NRO plays in a smaller modern-style hall and the CSO is recorded in a very warm, large,hall older style of architecture and acoustic design (though it has been "modernized" and made more lively in recent years.)

Really, we are comparing salad, bread and pork chop vs steak and mashed potatoes with rich sauces. Both tasty, filling, and full of vitamins and energy.

Monday, February 14, 2011 1:40:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Jerry for your juicy thoughts on the sound and character. Lots to think about now as I listen back for all those effects.
Quite right; most startling is the clarity and nearness of the Chicago recording; better style of microphone placement and almost a "reach out a touch" nearness to the players. I much prefer it.
Best, and thanks, Jen

Monday, February 14, 2011 1:56:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I am JUST starting to play the flute...and have my first lesson tonight with a teacher in Queretaro, Mexico.
Thank you for your site! It's great for a beginner. And now if I can only get sound for C in the first octave. Many thanks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 3:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Sounds great Diane. You'll have loads of fun; go for it! Best, Jen

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 4:34:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,

I loved this exercise. It's always really wonderful to hear the differences and I do think Jerry said it best in his last paragraph. Pork Chops are good too, but steak, well...He left out the fact that the pork chops come with fruit punch and the steak comes with a finely aged wine.


Friday, May 13, 2011 4:56:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Barbara. Yes, totally fascinating to listen. Best, Jen

Friday, May 13, 2011 6:52:00 PM


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