Thursday, July 23, 2015


                                                                    (michael sowa)

When we got back home, with the Berlin Philharmonic concert still a very fresh memory, K was especially keen to revisit their Digital Concert Hall (DCH). There was a small window of time to compare the actual in-the-hall experience with that of the transmitted live broadcast. We had subscribed to the DCH some years ago, probably after a similar Berlin visit I'd guess, but it lapsed.

The streaming rate was slower then I think, either their level or ours (which has improved), and the depth of programming may not have been what it is now, of that I'm uncertain. Now they have a speed test you can do for your region, and we were satisfactory, although we still occasionally have a small stall in the upload. Certainly our equipment has improved. Our speakers are one step just short of what I'd really like (the boxless DEQX calibrated Kyron Kronos system) and we've a new projector and a wider screen - all in all still a comfortable domestic experience but with excellent audio and visuals.

There's a trial period with the DCH, and we watched the concert we'd just seen (the Barenboim Tchaikovsky 6 and the fascinating Widmann Devil Cupid) and then the Mahler 1 with Dudamel which we missed by a few days. And then we signed up. It's excellent. The broadcast quality is astounding, and the direction faultless and musically informed to the highest level. The integration of sight and sound is note perfect with phrase and arc 'pull backs' just when that's what you're wishing for.

I'm not recommending subscribing; I don't ever recommend how people spend their money. But I can say there's much to explore. There's a vast library of broadcasts, there's films, and there's interviews (and they are free - see the Widmann interview above and the Yuja Wang interview in the comments of my previous post). But it's hard to avoid the reality that good equipment makes it very much more worthwhile.

We've been watching the movies, starting with the Karajan films (the very beautiful Carlos Kleiber - I Am Lost To The World we already had on DVD). No wonder they are so good at it; they're being doing it for decades. It was HvK who really introduced the concert film with an aggression and ego-centricity of which he was his own master. The pursuit of perfection, and his own place in the centre of it, is something to behold. Even to playing mime to previous recordings, some players dead, the orchestra was worked to the bare finger and bleeding lips.

If the result was sometimes like Disney gone Deutsch

the tradition of matching sight and sound was started.

From last weekend viewing:


Susan Scheid said...

Thanks so much for noting the Wang interview. Absolutely marvelous. I actually was alerted to and obtained a short subscription to DCH and to watch/hear her in the Prok 2. Marvelous, as well. DCH is a phenomenal resource--I only wish I had a sufficient sound system-but even without it, I've enjoyed a couple of dips in and expect I will do more.

wanderer said...

Agree, agree. And the interviews, and there's lots of them, are all non-subscription, and interviewing conductors is so revealing. We'll do the Prok 2 this weekend then - Sat night is our dinner/movie night! Remember TV dinners?

Susan Scheid said...

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday night. Wish I could coax my spouse into this--and yes, indeed, I do remember TV dinners, though I'm suspect yours, though perhaps served on side-by-side table trays, are homemade.

David said...

It's an excellently done service - amazing that they still make a loss on it. I wish other orchestras I personally like more would do the same. They have an excellent interviewer from time to time in BPO horn Sarah Willis - would prefer her on Radio 3 to some I could mention.

wanderer said...

I didn't know they made a loss but thinking about it - the costs must be very significant, for preproduction alone, and I wonder about royalties etc etc. The (HvK) tradition and the firm belief in the 'musical city' (my confection) is what drives them I suppose and more thanks to them.

They've done it in fits and starts down here under a broadcast sponsor, but again without the tradition I suspect there was not much traction even locally.

We haven't come across Sarah Willis yet but will keep an eye out for her. What orchestras are your preferred David?

Another marvellous technology we've experienced only in Germany was in Cologne where you could buy the CD of what you'd just heard about 15 mins after the last note. Brilliant!