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MMD > Archives > November 1998 > 1998.11.28 > 04Prev  Next

Article "Rachmaninoff Duplicated - Like Sheep"
By Dean Randall

Robbie writes [MMDIgest 981126]:

>[ Like too many other columnists, I feel that this author writes simply
>[ to entertain his audience with opinion and speculation.  It's a shame
>[ that, after hearing the yet-to-be-released CD, he didn't bother to
>[ hear Rachmaninoff's audio recordings, or recordings of Ampico pianos
>[ playing the music rolls.  -- Robbie

I would suggest that in this case at least, it seems he's writing more
to entertain himself.  For example:

> and now comes Sergei Rachmaninoff, dead since 1948, walking among
> us again.

Lovely phrase, but Rachmaninoff died in March of 1943.

> the performances have a nuance and sophistication that no original
> disk or previous piano roll technology comes close to.

Interesting notion, since there is nothing in the Telarc recording
which is not encoded on the original Ampico rolls.

> How does it work?  Let not the blind lead the potentially sighted.

Indeed -- but still he prattles on and on, making a long story interminable.

> For no matter how sophisticated the old Ampico process in registering
> touch, pedal and expression, pumping air through perforations on mass-
> produced sheets of paper invites small miscalculations of hand and
> machine, and the debilitating friction of moving mechanical parts.

Huh?  Last time I checked, the piano action of a Boesendorfer has
about the same moving mechanical parts as the piano action of a Mason &
Hamlin.  Solenoids do not inherently have less friction than a properly
restored pneumatic stack, in my opinion.

> Assuming that the local power company kept things steady, commands to
> the keyboard could be received through circuitry without hindrance.
> Bypassed are the dangers of mis-aligned machinery or the vagaries of
> flagging feet pumping pedals furiously at home.

Assuming that the local power company keeps things steady, the Ampico
pump supplies suction without hindrance too and commands to the keyboard
are received in similarly unimpeded fashion.  Solenoids are as easily
"mis-aligned" as pneumatics if the maker/installer/restorer is not

"Flagging feet pumping pedals furiously"?  What has this character
been listening to? Certainly not to a properly restored and regulated
Ampico or Duo-Art or Welte, nor to any other properly restored pneumatic
reproducing or player piano.  "Furious pedalling" is _never_ part of
the equation with a properly restored instrument.

> Live and recorded performance are separate experiences and need
> to be received as such.

At last! Some pontification with which most can agree! Whoopee!

In fairness, I will say that this reviewer's miserable example of flatu-
lent verbosity taken to the extreme may serve to increase the sales of
the CD, so even though the man comes across to me as an absolute twit,
his review may possibly serve some useful purpose.......other than
lining the bird cage.  I do admit that after 50+ years of reading cover-
age of mechanical music by vacuous media types, I've lost patience
with most of them.

Lest anyone think my opinion of the CD is less than stellar, I must
say here that Wayne Stahnke has, to his everlasting credit, produced a
pneumatic to electronic transcription which _ very precisely_ reproduces
what was recorded for the Ampico Company - no more, and certainly no
less.  The Telarc CD is indeed a triumph.  I am forever in awe of Wayne
for making it possible.  My annoyance is with the review only, not with
the recording.

Dean Randall

(Message sent Fri 27 Nov 1998, 10:45:59 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Article, Duplicated, Like, Rachmaninoff, Sheep

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