Sunday, June 25, 2006

My Healthy Cello (finally!)

Last week my cello was finally glued back together and ready for me to pick up and start playing again! (See my post from 4/21 called "My Sick Cello" if you missed the beginning of this saga....) The repairs took almost three months, during which time I played on a loaner cello (almost like committing adultery, or so a friend of mine suggested ;-0)

Most of the time I was lucky enough to have a very nice cello on loan from the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago: a British cello made by Thomas Dodd in 1820. I had been playing a tour of concerts with Miriam Fried and other musicians from Ravinia and the festival graciously agreed to let me borrow one of their instruments for the tour and the remainder of my season with the Claremont Trio.

Returning the cello to Chicago was a bit of a challenge but I managed to combine this errand with a trip to Milwaukee, WI to see Aaron play a piano recital (see picture) and visit with his wonderful family.

Although the Dodd had certain very nice qualities, it was not nearly as nice as MY cello (of course! - I'm loyal!) and so by June I was very anxious to get mine back and see if the repairs had been successful. When I first started playing my own Vuillaume again, it felt slightly different to me as is often the case after such major repairs. It had a bit of the brightness of sound that I'd expect from a newer instrument. However, over the course of a week, the instrument settled in, began to resonate fully, and we adjusted to each other again. Now it sounds as good or better than ever! I think the tone is more even and since the instrument is more solidly built now, it will be less temperamental.

Now the only drama left will be between me and the insurance company...all of that repair and rebuilding does not come cheap!

Friday, June 9, 2006

The Art of Editing

Recently we spent a day with our amazing recording engineer, Adam Abeshouse, editing our new cd. We had recorded both of Shostakovich's trios and Arensky's trio in D Minor during three long days of sessions last December in the recital hall at SUNY Purchase.

It was Adam's job to go through the hours of tape (which is of course a misnomer - nobody actually uses tape anymore - everything is recorded digitally straight to a hard drive...but "hours of hard drive space" just doesn't have the same ring to it) and splice together the best takes into a "first edit", like a writer's first draft. Then each of us spent some quality time listening through this "first edit" to make sure that all of our ideas came through clearly. We also noted down any spots which we weren't crazy about or where we had wanted something different.

Then we all met at Adam's house up in Pelham and with the help of his furry, white assistant, Bianca(!), we went through the recording, tweaking it until everyone was totally satisfied. Adam has some amazing computer tools at his disposal that can blend, enhance, or even change the sounds that we originally recorded. But the tools would be useless without his amazing ear, musical sensitivity, and artistry.

For Adam, the goal is not merely a clean recording (with no mistakes), but a recording that captures the spirit and trajectory of what we would do in a live performance. It can be hard to simulate the excitement of a concert in a recording session, when everyone is under a lot of stress. But Adam always knows how to draw us into our best playing. We could not have made this disc (or our last one of the Mendelssohn trios) without him. Thanks Charlie ;-)

"Claremont Goes Russian" - Adam's pet name for our disc - should be released sometime next fall...we'll keep you posted!