I’ve just attend an impressive demonstration of some “3D” recordings given by German producer Werner Drabinghaus. The playback system supplements the modern home theater surround configuration with four additional speakers placed high up in a room (in the present case, some 5 meters up in the Gasteig’s “Black Box” venue) on the right and left, front and rear. The results were quite stunning, particularly from recordings where some of the instruments and choirs are placed on risers or a cathedral organ is high above the congregation. Most interestingly, the additional speakers increased the sense of both staging and imaging along with the vertically expanded aural canvas. Drabinghaus is on to something big, especialy given that good quality surround speakers and amplification are a relative bargain, standards that include elevated speakers are beginning to find standardization (including Blu-Ray playback) in the consumer audio community, and multichannel formats are beginning to get traction among the download community.
Saturday night listening: Hans Werner Henze’s too-rarely-performed opera “Elegy for Young Lovers”. I know, it’s light listening as usual. An old college friend reminded me earlier today that I would often assert that “music should be rigorous”; that sentiment has changed little in 30-plus years.
The Henze recording features Lisa Saffer (she can sing anything, and I mean anything), Roderick Kennedy, a stunningly good supporting cast, and the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by the much-underrated Reinbert de Leeuw. It’s part of a 27-disc set documenting Schoenberg Ensemble recordings of 20th century music issued about five years ago by Dutch indie Et’Cetera. The performances are consistently excellent.