Recording “The Eighteenth-Century Symphony”

We have just finished recording a companion CD for volume I of The Symphonic Repertoire, a five-volume series begun by the late A. Peter Brown which is being published by IU Press. Entitled The Eighteenth Century Symphony, it features world-premier recordings of symphonies by little-known composers such as Antonio Brioschi, Gottlob Harrer, Joseph and Placidus von Camerloher, Gaetano Brunetti, and others. This project is a collaborative effort involving over twenty scholars from four different countries and is being funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Click to open in a new window

Since it is uncommon for full scores to exist for symphonic music of this era, the scores for this project were assembled from individual parts by Mary Sue Morrow of the University of Cincinatti College-Conservatory of Music. Apparently thousands of these parts are stored in archives and monastaries throughout Europe. The Music was performed in the historically correct style on original instruments by the Bloomington Early Music Festival Orchestra conducted by Stanley Ritchie in Auer Hall.

For this recording I used 2 Schoeps mk21 wide cardiod mics as the main pair with B&K 4006 omnis as outriggers. Spot mics were used on the woodwinds, horns and harpsichord, but the ensemble balenced itself very well so they will probably not be needed in the final mix. Ambience Click to open in a new windowwas captured with a pair of Neumann KM 130s hung in the middle of the hall about 20 feet high. The adjustable acoustic in Auer were set as follows: the stage curtains were fully opened; the second floor balcony wall curtains were completely down in the front, and at the half position in the back of the hall; the rear curtains were all the way down; and the ceiling curtains were at the one-third position. I find that this configuration, the front of the hall dryer than the rear, works very well and provides a nice clear sound with a decent amount of hall bloom. My goal for this recording was to be clean and accurate, since it is intended to accompany a textbook as a study aid I felt that the musical lines and parts had to be as clear as possible.

Speaker iconListen to a clip from the session. This is the fourth movement from Camerloher’s Symphonia in D.

I really enjoyed this project. The musicians (many of whom are EMI graduates) were really excellent and Stanley Ritchie is one of the founders of historical performance study, so it was a treat to work with him. It is also satisfying to know that this recording is unique: it is unlikely that these works will ever be recorded again, and in many ways, we are creating the definitive performances. And unlike most classical CDs, this disc will be in publication for many years and will be heard by thousands of people (even if they are only students studying eighteenth-century music.) I also think that this project demonstrates the great strength of the Recording Arts program. We regularly have the opportunity to work at such a high level with professional-quality ensembles on truly unique projects. These kind of opportunities are available nowhere else.

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