In the December issue of Fi, The Magazine of Music & Sound, columnist
Terry Teachout presents a candid comparison of audio recordings of
reproducing pianos, from the first issues of the 1950s up to the new
CD by Wayne Stahnke, Telarc CD-80489.
[ See also the notice from Jim Edwards in MMDigest 981126 ]
Teachout became quite jaundiced with these recordings, and feels
that "the results were a mishmash of flattened-out dynamics, clumpy
articulation, and suspicious-sounding tempos."
Then he reports the audiophiles views: "... as the years rolled by
and the results failed to improve significantly, a growing number of
piano connoisseurs found themselves questioning whether the reproducing
piano had ever been as good as its once-awesome reputation."
He listened again to Rachmaninoff's own 78-rpm recordings, and compared
the live performance to the London recording of 1979 ("Rachmaninov plays
Rachmaninov - The Ampico Piano Recordings 1919-1929", recorded with a
9-foot Estonia piano fitted with an Ampico player by Norman Evans, now
available on London CD 425964-2). He didn't much like what he heard
from the Estonia Ampico: "The notes were all there, the tempos were
right, but the results somehow sounded strangely... well, mechanical."
When he read the liner notes of Stahnke's CD, Teachout realized that
"no matter what the results sounded like, the process by which his
transfers were effected was radically different from anything previously
attempted in the classical-music field."
Then he performed an interesting test with a musician (a pianist)
who listened to the various audio recordings without knowledge of
I can't quote more from the article without annoying the magazine
publisher, so at this point I suggest, "Read the rest of the story
in Fi Magazine." It's refreshing to read about player pianos when
it's a respected writer and thorough researcher.
For subscription info contact Fi Magazine, P. O. Box 16747,
North Hollywood, CA 91615-9744 ; tel.: 1-800-799-4434