Monday, June 16, 2008

Zenph finally gets it right

I will continue to hold that the "reperformance" of Glenn Gould's 1955 Goldberg Variations was nothing short of eldritch necromancy out of a Lovecraftian nightmare. Indeed, Dr. Herbert West, M.D., couldn't have imagined something quite as macabre as resurrecting such a performance. Only Joseph Curwen would have dreamed it.

All levity aside, my problem with the Zenph disc was that Gould did in fact record a super-digital version of the Goldbergs. It bears little resemblance to the 1955 set, and the digital tracks were scrapped for the better-sounding analog tapes; it is, however, a modern stereo interpretation of the same work by the same pianist.

Now, the latest release from Zenph is another story. It's Art Tatum's Piano Starts Here (a combination of his first discs cut in the 1933 and a live concert from 1949), and it shows what Zenph should be doing with its new technology. Having some experience with live recordings (and recordings in general) from the 1930s and 1940s, I can tell you that there isn't anything there that you would want to use to show off your Klipsch La Scala speakers. The problem isn't the artist's interpretation, but the primitive technology.

Tatum was good. Very, very good. Indeed, the only thing holding him back is the neolithic (relatively speaking) technology used to capture his style on disc. Zenph, using whatever eldritch trickery they've devised to get every aspect of a performance off the acetate and onto a MIDI file, has managed to get his brilliance onto a modern, well-tuned piano and capture it in modern sound.

That's the idea. Don't fix what isn't broken. Now, let's hit up some of the great masters of the last century.


At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice to know that TATUM was as this
person states very, very, good, I
WAS NOT AWARE OF THAT, and its even
more enlightening that he was
recorded on primitive equipment
person should be lauded for
pointing this out!

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