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Thread: Prom 8: Wednesday 20th July 2011 (Czech music)

  1. #21
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    I thought the Dvorak was a bit mushy from the orchestra, with the soloist so refined as to fade into the background too much - as the programme noted, a common reason given as to why cello concertos were not considered suitable or doable for a long time. Thus there was a heightened incompatibility here for me between the two. No surprise to me that Queyras is a chamber specialist,

    However, I agree with Chris re the Ma vlast. It was passionately played, the band clearly relishing the showpiece that it is. Kudos to the clarinettist, the trombones, and the lady on piccolo. Not sure about the timpanist! Still not the Czech Phil with Kubelik (a bit four square in some of the lyrical sections for that) but a very, very fine performance. I do think all the banging and booming in Tabor goes on a bit...

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerei View Post
    Enjoyed the cello concerto, which I hardly know. Is Queyras' recording worth a punt?
    I have several recordings of the Dvorak concerto but Queyras' recording is definitely my favourite - what a great musician. Can't wait to hear him play the Bach suites on July 31st at Wigmore Hall.

  3. #23
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    Today I listened to part of last night's Ma Vlast and have to say that it does not sound like the same performance as the one I heard in the hall. The current BBC sound spectrum is really one size fits all and when these recorded performances find their way onto BBCMM discs with no correction it makes for a tragic waste of opportunity.

  4. #24
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    In reply to comments about sound quality, I was listening to the "HD" 320kbps AAC stream, Macbook - optical digital out - Cambridge DacMagic, and I have to say the whole concert sounded splendid! Wide dynamic range (not quite as wide as some CDs or 24-bit downloads) warm, spacious, crisp and clear. The Smetana was indeed performed with great fire and passion, and well-balanced by conductor and engineers too. Compared to dynamically restricted FM (on a Magnum Dynalab tuner, for heavens' sake!) it was streets ahead. I did find it thrilling as well as moving. Overall I've been impressed with all the first week's Proms from the technical perspective described above. With iPlayer on demand, the bitrate is sadly restricted to. wait for it, 128kbps AAC. No wonder it doesn't sound so good. It used to be 192kbps which was OK, but the live "HD" (shame they called it that...) is very much better.

    Jayne Lee Wilson
    Liverpool uk (first post here since the BBC boards closed down...)

  5. #25
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    jlw, I have not seen any negative criticism regarding the audio quality of Prom 8, indeed, full marks to the engineers concerned. They took the risk of avoiding dynamic limitation and it paid off handsomely. The peak level of the HD Sound stream during the Smetana was -1.7dB below saturation level, with an average RMS level of -27.7dB, indicating a very healthy dynamic range indeed.

    The criticisms posted here related specifically to Proms 1 and 4 which suffered very heavy dynamic compression indeed, as the 'fingerprints' posted here by johnb demonstrate.It should be noted that johnb employed the highly regarded Sound Forge to display the file, a rather more upmarket DAW than the bargain basement Goldwave. I got precisely the same results as johnb, and found very similar dynamic compression on the DAB broadcast.

  6. #26
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    jayne,

    Welcome to the forum!
    Quote Originally Posted by jayne lee wilson View Post
    In reply to comments about sound quality, I was listening to the "HD" 320kbps AAC stream, Macbook - optical digital out - Cambridge DacMagic, and I have to say the whole concert sounded splendid! Wide dynamic range (not quite as wide as some CDs or 24-bit downloads) warm, spacious, crisp and clear. The Smetana was indeed performed with great fire and passion, and well-balanced by conductor and engineers too. Compared to dynamically restricted FM (on a Magnum Dynalab tuner, for heavens' sake!) it was streets ahead. I did find it thrilling as well as moving.
    I've also been listening to the HD stream on my audio system (fed by the digital outputs of either a Firewire external soundcard or my Squeezebox and (apart from Proms 1 and 4) I have no complaints at all about the sound quality or the dynamic range.

    In fact, after reading some adverse comments about the dynamic range, etc I measured Stravinsky's Rite of Spring from Prom 6 and compared it with the Muti recording:

    Prom 6 Rite (HD Sound):
    Peaks: -1.3 dB
    RSM: -30 dB (a measure of the average level)
    Ambient hall during 'silence': -67 dB

    Muti Rite:
    Peaks: 0 dB
    RSM: -20 dB
    Ambient studio during 'silence': -59 dB

    On the basis of that - the HD Sound Prom 6 actually has a wider dynamic range than the well regarded Muti recording!

    I know there is a great deal more to the quality of a broadcast or recording than the raw dynamic range figures - but the comparison is quite interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by jayne lee wilson View Post
    With iPlayer on demand, the bitrate is sadly restricted to. wait for it, 128kbps AAC. No wonder it doesn't sound so good. It used to be 192kbps which was OK, but the live "HD" (shame they called it that...) is very much better.
    Although Listen Again iPlayer is labelled as being 128kbps it is actually 192 kbps aac (honest)!

  7. #27
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    From my vantage point just about in the middle of the BBC logo in the Arena, the Dvorak was OK, not the greatest rendition that I can imagine, but it was good enough. J-G.Q. did nicely with the Bach encore (Sarabande from Suite No. 2). JB did his best to stay out of the way of the soloist in the concerto, but then came fully into his own with Má vlast, where his conducting style became more extrovert, though as always with JB, never showing off. Except for a momentary brass flub in the finale, this would work just fine as a BBC Music Magazine CD. I was very happy finally to have heard the whole of Má vlast live, for once in my life (have heard the 1st 3 live before, but never the others).

  8. #28
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    johnb - thanks for those figures! I didn't think, overall, that the Rite was quite as savagely splendid as M. Cowan said - enjoyable nonetheless...

    My comments about the first week were mainly about the concerts since Monday, but...

    With the Gothic Symphony, yes I did notice the limiting (especially compared to the often shocking impact of the Naxos recording!) but I felt inclined to forgive the engineers given the huge, live forces involved; and also because I did feel the clarity, both texturally and in the spatial layering in the hall, was well achieved (Well done Hugh Thomas!). I liked the more forward immediacy of the orchestra, with the chorus soaring over the top, though the soloists were a little too forward; pushed the volume higher than usual, and ended up genuinely moved by it as it drew to a close, with a surprisingly concise final gesture.

  9. #29
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    I've just heard Wednesday's Prom with the Dvorak cello concerto and Smetana's Ma Vlast and thought it very good.

    It's the first time I've heard the latter [almost] live and realised what an exhausting work it must be for the orchestra. Well done JB and the BBCSO. Also the excellent cellist of course.

  10. #30
    barber olly Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmine Bassett View Post
    I enjoyed the performance of Ma Vlast very much - despite the memories of Vltava as one of my "O" level set works.

    The only thing that spoiled it for me was the doubling up of the harps right at the beginning, maybe it wasn't helped that they were close miked for the R3 broadcast, but it just sounded as if the players were trying desparately to stay together in the flourishes and it just sounded too careful and controlled - after that all was wonderful.
    Jasmine,
    You may know more about harps than I do, but the sound the engineers brought out, for me, sounded great. I notice that they also favoured them in Janacek's Sinfnietta last night. Too often harpists lose out to the louder sounds of other instruments, good to see them treated with respect!

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