Acknowledgements & Remarks


Acknowledgements:

  • Primarily, I wish to thank all visitors / readers: I’m amazed to see how many people keep visiting my blog, even in periods when I haven’t posted many new articles — the number of visits is a great motivator for upcoming blog posts!
  • I also would like to thank readers who made comments to blog posts, and/or who stay in contact with me via channels such as Twitter or Facebook.
  • Thanks for the people at Bachtrack.com for getting me into concert reviewing — my blog would look entirely different without that,
  • The concert reviewing led to several, extremely inspiring and stimulating contacts with artists—I’m infinitely grateful for each one of these encounters: they have boosted my motivation in the area of concert reviews.
    “spacer”
  • Thanks to my daughter Deborah — she has been the initial trigger for getting me started in blogging, back in 2011.
  • Thanks to Deborah, as well as to my wife Lea, who have helped with comments and with reviewing posts.
  • Also, many thanks to Deborah for motivating me to switch to WordPress as blogging platform, and to Lea for supporting me in the transition.

General Remarks:

  • Music ownership: With the obvious exception of concert reviews, all music discussed in this blog has either been purchased as physical CD (the vast majority, actually), or purchased and downloaded from Apple’s iTunes store, from amazon.com, or (rarely) from magnatune.com, i.e., all music is legally purchased (hopefully with the artist getting a share of the purchasing price) — I would not even consider gray or black channels such as BitTorrent and the like, and I’m also not a friend of subscription models such as Spotify, as it does not suit my listening habits & needs.
  • I may occasionally refer to YouTube videos as “external references” — assuming that such videos are either legal or would be taken down if challenged for legal concerns. It is entirely possible that there are links to YouTube videos in my blog that have been taken down since my posting; feedback about such dead links is welcome, of course: I can’t periodically re-check all these links for their validity, but will remove dead links when notified.
  • Concert reviews: I have been invited to write concert reviews for Bachtrack.com. These reviews are in German, the rights for these reviews remain with Bachtrack (small segments may be quoted with indication of the copyright). In cases where I write a separate blog post about such concerts (in English), these are not translations of the review for Bachtrack. I’m not earning money with this, but Bachtrack organizes the press tickets for such concerts.
  • Music Scores: wherever possible, I use pocket scores to follow the music I’m listening to. In case I don’t already have a score, and particularly for smaller and older works, I use downloaded scores (PDF format) from IMSLP.org, provided downloading is free and legal in Europe. I have started adding information on printed scores that I used (with links towards amazon.com); I merely want to provide information on which score I used — I have not compared different scores, and so, such information cannot mean endorsement, except for stating that the score I used covered my needs as a listener (I’m not a musicologist!). As for the scores from the IMSLP project: note that those scores which are freely available are typically older editions that are no longer covered by copyright protection — those can definitely not serve the needs of a musicologist, or of a serious artist.
  • Amazon links: Wherever possible, the “—Buy CD(s) from amazon—” links point to the exact CD discussed in the blog — with a few exceptions:
    • Occasionally, the CD label shown in the linked page looks different, as I may have an older release of the same recording, or the label may have changed since I purchased the music. I stuck to this rule even in cases where a complete edition has become available (likely at a better price per CD), while I was discussing individual CDs (e.g., for some recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas or string quartets).
    • Conversely, in the case of the “Arthur Rubinstein Complete Album Collection” I’m referring to that collection (which is what I have), even though individual CDs may also be available fort some of the recordings.
    • In some cases, a CD is no longer available, so I selected a (supposedly) equivalent recording from the amazon catalog without extra remarks.
    • In rare cases, an individual recording may no longer be on the market, but it may now be available as part of a bigger collection — in this case, I marked the link accordingly.

    Note: As the biggest share of the blog visitors reside in North America, the amazon links point to amazon.com, i.e., the U.S. branch.

  • The UPC-A and EAN-13 bar code graphics are created using the free service from
    Free Barcode Generator - Barcoding Inc.
  • QR codes for URLs are included for iTunes, amazon.com or similar downloads where I can’t locate a valid UPC-A or EAN-13 barcode. These QR codes are created using the open source QR code generator at ZXing

Technical Remarks:

  • Metronome numbers are determined either by tapping into an OS X application such as “Subdivide”, or tapping into an iOS app such as “Pro Metronome” on an Apple iPad, or alternatively calculated from the time taken for a given number of beats — in either case looking for a section without too much rubato, and typically not the very beginning of a movement.
  • Durations are typically without eventual applause, and possibly corrected for excess blank trails at the end (or at the beginning) — they may therefore deviate from the actual (CD or download) track duration.
  • Most metronome & timing tables are generated as MS Excel spreadsheets that I export to PDF and then convert into a suitable graphics format (typically PNG) — how I do the color coding in MS Excel is far too quirky to be explained here.
  • Update: CD & Booklet front pages for ripped CDs from my collection are typically scanned and processed through Adobe Photoshop using the following procedure:
    • scan at 1200 dpi (HP OfficeJet Pro 276dw MFP)
    • straightening & cropping
    • possible removing spots etc. / image repair
    • Gaussian blurring (“Filter” -> “Blur” -> “Gaussian Blur”, just enough to remove print pattern, typically with a radius of 3 – 4 pixels), possibly followed by selective sharpening (“Filter” -> “Sharpen” -> “Sharpen Edges”)
    • the Color gamut is expanded using “Image” -> “Image adjustments” -> “Curves”
    • scaling down to 150 dpi (final size around 700 x 700 pixels),
    • saving in high-quality JPEG format

Site Policy

Impressum, History of this Blog

Last update to this page: 2017-05-06

 

Share:Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Tumblr0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Share on StumbleUpon0Pin on Pinterest0Digg thisShare on Reddit0Email this to someone

7 thoughts on “Acknowledgements & Remarks

  1. Congratulations, Rolf. It looks great. I’ve been told I could do better myself using WordPress for my online publishing venture and will probably do so (as you know, I already blog at WordPress).

    I look forward to more of your thorough, well-considered and always enlightening posts and reviews!

    • Hi Thomas,
      thanks for the flowers! I was always a bit jealous about the far more professional look of your blog site; as far as I saw, you use wordpress.com — my daughter and I both opted for the “full option”, i.e., wordpress.org with our own domains and a commercial hosting service; installation is a matter of a couple mouse clicks (OK, we both did it twice, as by default the WP software installs in a subdirectory “wordpress”, which we did not want). I’m truly delighted, not just by the endless customization options, but for me primarily because it internally uses Mark-down rather than full HTML: Blogger’s internal use of HTML is a real nightmare (well, to tell the truth, in my former life I once dealt with one instance — Jive — that is even worse than Blogger in that respect). Here, I do a fair amount of formatting in the HTML / Mark-down mode (especially when transferring stuff from Blogger), and the quirks that I encountered during this first week are really minor and manageable.
      Best regards, -Rolf

  2. Rolf,
    You would have liked the concert we were at last night: The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. Bach, Handel, and Telemann, all on period instruments and partly with a countertenor vocalist.
    We are both patrons and volunteer ushers at Stanford so we get a regular infusion of live music (classical being my choice) — in addition to trips to the San Francisco Symphony.
    I found your blog via a G+ notice — I hope your blogging goes well for you!
    Regards,
    -Paul

    • Hi Paul,
      thanks for your comment — yes, that would indeed have been an interesting concert! I have also been following “Voices of Music” via Facebook / G+ / Twitter lately — I’m pretty sure you have been to their concerts as well, as they seem to be based in the Bay area?
      Blogging: well, just 10 days ago I decided to move my entire music blog site (154 published postings, some 15 in draft state) from Google/Blogger over to WordPress.org; this looked like a scary exercise, as my posts are typically much longer than my (notoriously long) newsletter articles, back at Varian/Agilent — however, after 10 days I have transferred already around 70 postings — I suspect I will be finished in 2 weeks or so, and after that I’ll be able to focus on new content again… WordPress is so much easier to work with — almost quirk-free; I wish I had made that transition earlier!
      I hope you are doing well? Right now, my blog keeps me as busy (or more) than my former job…
      Best regards,
      -Rolf

  3. Dear Rolf,

    I ‘stumbled across’ your blog whilst searching for reviews about recordings of Beethoven symphonies. I read Gramophone and Fanfare, but I think that your reviews are often far more detailed and balanced than those of these esteemed professional record critics. I agree with your approach to analysing recordings based on what is in the score- an essential starting point that some ignore! I cannot begin to imagine how much time and thought you put into this.

    By coincidence, Beethoven’s 4th symphony was the subject of a recordings comparison just over a week ago on BBC Radio 3 and the critic recommended David Zinman as a ‘library choice’. It was quite cheap to order his set of all the symphonies. They have just arrived. I notice that you are selective about which recordings you analyse, but I was wondering whether you had a view on HIP recordings other than Norrington (e.g. Gardiner, Brüggen, Immerseel or Krivinne) and on the Chailly Leipzig set- not HIP, but claims to follow the metronome markings.

    On another note, last Sunday I heard the Belcea Quartet play Beethoven’s Op.131 at the Wigmore Hall in London. Live, I thought their tone was lovely (especially the leader), attacks were robust and the tempi seemed quick, but they used quite a bit of vibrato. Earlier this year I heard Patricia Kopatchinskaja there playing Mozart and Enescu sonatas (exciting and very discreet vibrato) and a few years ago I heard Isabelle Faust play all 6 of the solo Bach sonatas and partitas- she was sublime!

    All the best,
    Louis

    • Dear Louis,
      thanks a lot for your comment!
      My basic “rule” is that I have what I have — it is far too easy to get swamped in versions (just found out that I have some 27 versions of the Beethoven piano concertos, which will make it quite a chore to review), plus, as I have stopped working, and hence on a more limited budget, I’m selective about adding new versions. I have seen that Zinman has been elected best on BBCR3 (that even made it into Wikipedia!) — I like the Tonhalle orchestra (being local, after all!), Zinman’s approach I like, too, but compared to real HIP recordings, they are often somewhat too smooth / polished. So, in terms of HIP, Dausgaard (IMO) is closer, and more natural. I have not evaluated Gardiner, Krivine or Brüggen, nor Chailly. Note that I only review stuff that I have in (preferably) hardcopy or full download, not via Spotify — the latter is *so* cumbersome in locating tracks, and in track labeling.
      While I was doing the Beethoven string quartet reviews, I listened to previews (amazon) with the Belcea — and decided that I had enough “vibrating (i.e., traditional) versions” already. Yes, I like Kopatchinskaja (you’ll find some comments by her husband attached to my post on the Beethoven concerto!), and Faust really is one of my very top favorites. One other set of planned reviews is on the Bach violin sonatas & partitas — with 18 recordings, including Isabelle Faust.
      The other “thing” about extensive, many-version reviews is that over the past year, I gradually got pulled into reviewing concerts — to the point where I decided to make this the primary (or at least a second, main) topic of my blog, and hence my productivity in writing CD reviews has decreased to some degree.
      Best regards & thanks again!
      Rolf

  4. Dear Rolf,

    Thanks for your prompt and detailed reply. I think that I will need to investigate Dausgaard’s Beethoven recordings soon. It will fascinating to read at some point in the future your thoughts on Bach’s violin sonatas & partitas- a labour of love, no doubt! I also have and admire Faust’s recordings of these.

    Kind regards,
    Louis

Leave a Reply

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: