April 12, 2015

The face of evil

Meet Philipp Nedel, the remastering engineer for the 2012 DVD issue of "Horowitz in Vienna" - the first DVD release of the recital previously available 'officially' only on a VHS stereo tape.  Since I have a copy of that VHS tape (in a pirate DVD transfer from Japan), it took me only a few minutes of listening to Mr. Nedel's work to appreciate the remarkable consistency with which major classical labels (in this case Sony) entrust restoration of historically invaluable recordings to incompetent and evil motherfuckers like Mr. Nedel and the issue producer Robert Russ.  (Unfortunately the latter's photo could not be found on the web.  Perhaps Mr. Russ suspects that the quality of his work makes it prudent for him to do what he can to remain maximally anonymous.)

In the process of 'remastering' this recording for the DVD issue, it was apparently decided that coughs, however unobtrusive, have no place in a live recording made in a concert hall filled with nearly 2000 people.  Including coughs which overlapped the sounds coming from Horowitz' piano.  In some cases (e.g., at the beginning of the Allegro of Mozart's sonata K.333) removing such coughs required splicing in some amount of music from the repeat (or perhaps from one of two other stereo recordings of this sonata by Horowitz).  But the most impressive bit of editing vandalism was done with the cough which overlapped the hammer strike of the very first note in the Andante of that Mozart sonata.  The cough was simply excised along with the hammer strike part of that note.  What was left was a disfigured 'hammerless' tail end of the note - a sound as ugly as it is painful for anyone who cares about  music, Mozart, and the art of piano playing.

Naturally I did not bother to listen to the rest of that DVD, nor to the remaining five discs in the 6-DVD set "Vladimir Horowits: The Video Collection", which I borrowed from my local public library.  But what I've heard was enough to make me think that if I were Mr. Nedel, I would seriously consider hiring a plastic surgeon to change my appearance.  Why risk being recognized on a dark and deserted street by an outraged Horowitz fan?

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