Saturday, August 21, 2010
Scherchen Bach Cantatas: No. 76 "Die Himmel Erzählen, No 106 "Gottes Zeit" (Actus Tragicus}
Two more great Bach cantatas in superlative performances. The Cantata No. 76 was recorded from an original pressing issued in 1953; the Gottes Zeit from a later pressing, but thankfully not one of the fake stereo ones. I have doctored the cover art to include both works on the original LP front from No. 76. The soloists on the 106, though, are Alfred Poell and Hilde Rössel-Madjan.
Bear in mind that the records used for most of this series are almost 60 years old (like me). I have filtered them lightly in DartPro 24, though, not really concerned about removing every barely audible surface flaw on them. Though they are significantly cleaned up, there is the occasional slight click that might remain; I manually remove those I feel are bothersome but do not chase down every last one of them.
More significantly, the original records delivered a muddy choral sound, where the inner voices often disappeared into a sonic grumble. That did bother me, especially in this music, so I have done some re-equalizing. I am always loathe to do so; one man's "opening up the top" is another's "treble screech", but the ability to hear the counterpoint suffered from the sonic fog of the originals. To fix it I gave the midtones a boost and did a very slight gain on the low bass, and high treble, which seemed cut off, even though I use a cartridge/stylus combination with an extended treble response. It did open up the choral opaqueness a bit and allow more separation of vocal lines, and I believe the overall balance remains reasonably good. I would be happy to hear what you think, though, as I am anything but a professional sound engineer, and the impression the files make on fresh ears would be valuable to know. I am aware from having printed custom photographs professionally for many years, that our senses, too tensely concentrated, can play tricks on us.
Once again the text and translation can be found at the website of Emmanuel Church in Boston, where the great Craig Smith led the music program for many years. John Harbison stepped up to the plate when Smith passed away. http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/notes_translations/nt_notes_transl_cantatas.htm#pab1_7
Link to all files