In the first of a number of out-of-band episodes that we’re planning to release in the coming weeks, we talk with pianist Angela Hewitt, best known for her extraordinary recordings of all of Bach’s keyboard works.
These are difficult times for many people, who are now required to stay at home. Music can help us get through this. In this “two guys not in a pub” episode, Doug and Kirk reflect on social isolation and music.
Simon Reynell, of Another Timbre, a great little British label of avant-garde music, posted this on Facebook:
I’ve just uploaded to Bandcamp a 5-hour ‘coronavirus’ playlist of recent pieces from Another Timbre. It’s for everyone, but particularly for those who are self-isolating or in quaratine. Free streaming, or you can buy downloads of individual tracks – and I’ll pass the money straight on to the principal musicians involved, many of whom will be facing tough times for the next few months. Featuring pieces by Magnus Granberg, Linda Catlin Smith, Cassandra Miller, Morton Feldman, Ryoko Akama, Adrián Demoč, Jürg Frey, Tse Trio + Angharad Davies, Catherine Lamb, Federico Pozzer & Frank Denyer. There will be other playlists uploaded as the pandemic continues.
While there are lots of reasons to opt for minimal audio equipment, for some people there is an enduring allure for vintage stereo amps and receivers from the hi-fi heydays of the 1970s. The time when audio gear had knobs and dials and VU meters, like the fins and grilles on 1950s cars. We discuss our lust for those baroque audio devices of yore.
Ashley Kahn wrote the book on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, the jazz album everyone owns if they one at least one jazz album. We talk with Ashley about the recording of Kind of Blue, and about its legacy. (Apologies for the audio issues.)
A unique piano which was treasured by the Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt as her “best friend” was broken beyond repair when it was dropped by specialist instrument movers.
The expensive accident happened late last month after Hewitt finished recording Beethoven’s piano variations at a studio in Berlin. She said it left her in such shock that it took her 10 days before she could announce the news to her followers.
In a Facebook post Hewitt said her F278 Fazioli, the only one in the world fitted with four pedals, and worth at least £150,000, was “kaputt”. She said: “I hope my piano will be happy in piano heaven.”
The broken instrument was inspected by the firm’s Italian founder, Paolo Fazioli, who declared it “unsalvageable”. The piano’s iron frame smashed when the 590kg instrument dropped as movers tried to lift it on to a trolley. The force of the break, compounded by the high tensions in the piano’s strings, was so strong that it split the piano’s lid in two.
“It makes no sense, financially or artistically, to rebuild this piano from scratch. It’s kaputt,” Hewitt said.
The accident left Hewitt in mourning. She said: “I adored this piano. It was my best friend, best companion. I loved how it felt when I was recording – giving me the possibility to do anything I wanted.”
This is incredibly sad. She is a great pianist, and her recordings of Bach are some of the best on the instrument.
Andy Doe joins us again to discuss the perils of having software-controlled audio equipment. After the Affaire Sonos, when the company announced that a lot of its older products would become “obsolete,” perhaps it’s time to think more carefully about how long hardware we buy will last, when it depends on software.
Chris Connaker of Audiophile Style renovated the attic of his house and turned it into the ultimate listening room. He then tuned it using amazing speakers, acoustic treatment, and DSP (digital signal processing). He explains how he went about this, and how the room itself is perhaps the most important element in an audio system.
If you listen to my music podcast The Next Track, you certainly know that I have been playing the shakuhachi for a while. This Japanese end-blown flute is a fascinating instrument, and it is also a very esthetic object.
I currently own six shakuhachis, and I’ve posted a bit about them on my Honkyoku website. Have a read if you’re curious about the instrument.