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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Thorofon, Pasquini, Swanton or digital, analog and music

Strange post title, isn't it?

Getting older my arguments get older, too... admit you didn't read about (sort-of) analog vs. digital... BUT, NO!

I won't annoy you with bitter/dry analog nostalgia.

I recently found during my usual vinyl chasing a disc made in Germany by a quite obscure label, Thorofon: a recording of an historic organ in an ancient church in Treviso, Northern Italy, barely 50 km from my hometown.

An organ built in early 1700 of music composed by Bernardo Pasquini (who?), a contemporary and loyal follower and scholar of Palestrina, also from 1700... the organist was Philip Swanton (who?)... born in 1952 in Sydney.

Jokes apart, Mr. Swanton was and is a superb musician, a son of Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel and his choice of digging Pasquini's seldom heard and played compositions is nothing short of pure genius!

I'm pretty sure most of my readers will be still guessing - after above foreword - "where I'm trying to bring you?"...

Easy done, folks.

I'll quickly add that the above shown disc entered my personal Valhalla at first listen...

I'm very, very fond of organ music, it's an obsession: organs are complex man-made machines which sound heavenly and own their own soul, made of the interaction with churches where they live in, materials, their imperfect (unique) intonation, size and materials.

Now let's talk about ignorance, my very own ignorance: I never heard of both composer and musician, wasn't aware of such a majestic organ in the area I live and... HA!

I listened in awe to both sides in a row greatly appreciating the music, recording, musicianship, also pressing clarity and vinyl silence... but, distracted by large DNM sticker on front cover and distracted, better absorbed by the load of informations contained in liner notes, I noticed a small print saying "Digital - First Edition".

So, here is the cul de sac: may an early digital recording, possibly a DAT, sure not reaching, for example, the highlights of a Nagra Digital recorder or my beloved and trusty Sound Devices 722 24bit/192 Khz, be so satisfying?

Full bodied sound, premium dynamics, lively ambience, all was greatly presented in this recording.

... yet, not for a moment during listening, I felt the need for "more" or "something technically updated"... because I wasn't aware of any technical detail about recording rig!

Was my ignorance masking and biasing the musical/audio experience?

... or viceversa?

When I noticed the a.m. "Digital - First Edition" I wasn't re-considering my first-hand impressions... I simply took note of this detail... a detail, indeed.

Music was so well captured and preserved for posterity that analog vs. digital was pointless, almost amusing.

I swear I'm not loosing my discriminating ears;-)

I'm just intrigued by the fact I knew about the disc digital nature only after listening to it... something which doesn't happen this often... but most important, the recording was - IS - just perfect and nicely serving music as it is.

Maybe a fortunate evenience... so, please forgive me for a lengthy dissertation if it sounds re-fried to you and... well, just take a glance of beauty chasing for the very disc I'm talking about.

... just have no fear of digital;-)

Music first, always.

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