There are only two ways to make a recordingmain
From our diarist, Anthea Kreston:
Our recording location this week was in a charming, repurposed dance hall on the outskirts of Berlin. The herringbone wood floor, high ceiling and tall windows made for warm and clear acoustics, and the old stage is now an enclosed recording booth. This Shostakovich 7th is one of the first pieces I learned with this Quartet and, in fact was one of my audition pieces. As all Shostakovich, it requires both extreme power-playing and extreme stillness – endless, almost inaudible notes which (on a recording especially) must have perfect sustain, impossibly controlled.
The three long days were spent standing, as we always do, and with occasional visits to the recording booth to check that our chosen vision is understandable from the other side. I was covered in sweat, and found myself out of breath frequently. I brought three large canning jars of beverages to sustain me – coffee, tea and zinc-lemon drink. All were empty by mid-day, the liquids expended through my pores.
I have recorded enough times, and with enough different people to realize that there are two main camps, philosophies. One is – I must control this, and preset a perfect picture. The second is – perfection is the job of the people in the booth – my job is to play like I have never played before in my life.
I was lucky, this week, to be surrounded by people who believe the second, and not the first. Recording in this way (any way, actually), is exhausting. It is a combination of running a marathon, stopping frequently for high-intensity-interval-
There is never a moment to step back and relax. Whether playing a melody, choral section, duet, or supporting a main voice, there must be a consistency of tempo, dynamic, and a clear emotional message. This is forever. The base details have to be consistent, to allow for the post-recording editing. Tempos must be exact, flow must be achieved immediately, and dynamics have to be consistent. All of these things, however, are secondary to an intensely personal sound, colors and textures which are a time-capsule – something which can reach out of speakers and can grab the listener by the heart, in the same way that Shostakovich reaches out of the paper and brings us along on an unforgettable, personal journey.