Composer and conductor Debbie Wiseman is at the helm when the National Symphony Orchestra make their latest vinyl album.
This is a “direct cut” recording, straight to vinyl, which is a bit of a nerve-wracking experience for the musicians, producers and engineers at Air Studios in London.
Vinyl is enjoying a revival at the moment across musical genres. This is down to its exceptional fidelity in capturing the truest sound – hence the term hi-fi (high fidelity) which, believe it or not, dates from the 1950’s.
Direct recording is not a new idea. There are many piano rolls which were cut direct from performance by the performer who was often also the composer. Among these early recording artists are Fats Waller, Dame Myra Hess, Scott Joplin, Rachmaninov, Jelly Roll Morton, Percy Grainger, George Gershwin and Granados – quite a line-up!
To get back to the modern era, there are also examples of one-take recordings for CD, perhaps the most famous being, Rostropovich’s recording of the complete Bach Solo Suites. I was totally spell-bound the first time I listened to this; but, it is not flawless and now I find myself listening for the slips, much like the clicks caused by scratches on vinyl.
So back to this latest initiative on vinyl. The recording is on the Chasing the Dragon label and is entitled “ESPAÑA- a tribute to Spain” featuring the music of Bizet, Chabrier and Rimsky-Korsakov. This in itself was a pragmatic choice as the works are well known to orchestral players and less vulnerable to variation. In fact many players could probably play the music blindfold!
That is not to take away from the skill of the performers and the challenge to do it once, do it right. And under the baton (of a length to compete with Sir Adrian Boult) of Debbie Wiseman, the performances are certain to be energetic, slick and passionate.