Author Topic: Tveitt's Nordic Tower  (Read 11993 times)

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Offline Brian

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Re: Tveitt's Nordic Tower
« Reply #60 on: July 20, 2021, 05:41:51 AM »

Oh WOW. This performance of the Variations is so vastly better!! The difference is truly enormous and I would not have expected to experience the piece so differently in a different recording.

The key difference really is choices made with the recorded sound - BIS blends the two pianos back into the orchestra, and Naxos spotlights them somewhat artificially, but also and importantly, BIS blends the two pianos into each other. Whereas Naxos separates them, one on the left channel, one on the right. The difference is immediately noticeable on the entrance of the soloists - on BIS, it sounds like, well, an orchestral piano, whereas on Naxos, it genuinely sounds like a duel between fighter #1 and fighter #2. BIS' recording is stronger in the bass, good for low notes and winds, while Naxos' is stronger in the treble, which happens to be where a lot of the piano writing is, so it really spotlights and highlights the give-and-take, thrust-and-parry sparring nature of the two soloists' writing. Also, check out the episode at 28' on both tracks, when a xylophone enters the party. On Naxos, the xylophone is clearly audible in a third place in the sound picture, creating a triangle of percussive piano and xylophone writing.

The piano concerto is also miked much more closely and places the various orchestral details wider apart, making them easier to hear and appreciate, making the music vastly more colorful. The difference is not as tremendous, but still the difference between "this is pleasant" and "this is really cool." It also helps that the Scottish brass are way louder and gutsier.

Wow. What a dramatic turn of events. I am sure the BIS recording is ideal if you have a really sophisticated sound system which can make it all come alive in your large, fancy living room. It's probably technically superior since it doesn't rely on spotlighting and gimmickry. But I don't have a SOTA system, and currently am listening on headphones, so I need the recording engineers to do the work for me, which is what is done on Naxos. Wow.

Probably not enough to completely change my mind on Tveitt, but I will try the folk tunes on Naxos now and maaaybe the more disappointing concertos 1/5, just in case.

One quibble: Naxos astonishingly fails to identify the pianist in Concerto 4, that is to say, they don't say which of the two pianists from the Variations takes the solo in 4. I assume it is Gimse because he is listed first and did the other concertos.