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Classical Notes

Dumping history

Posted at 7:41 AM on February 20, 2006 by John Zech
Filed under: Musical philosophy

When I was in my teens and 20s I was discovering all aspects of the audio world, from hi-fi stereo (and Quadrophonic Sound!) to the oldest 78s, a quarter inch thick and cut on only one side. I loved the connection these old recording provided to the past, and I especially loved hearing programs of "historic recordings" on public radio in those days. The cramped audio spectrum and surface noise was part of the charm of those old discs.

These days, there are a lot of recordings from the 50s, 60s and 70s which are becoming "historic" in the worst sense of the word, I think. A lot of them just don't sound that good, either sonically speaking, or from a performance standpoint (e.g. the Haydn Symphonies recorded by Antal Dorati with the Philharmonia Hungaria on London/Decca, or a lot of the Maurice Andre and Jean-Pierre Rampal recordings).

Should we still plays these discs as examples of the best of the their time, or should we let them be and give our listeners the best of OUR time?

I think there's plenty of new/recent material on the shelves which would make for a more consistent, more exciting and more engaging sound for our listeners.