Don Grusin’s great disc Out of Thin Air is my favorite example of how a piano should sound. It is by far the best piano recording I have in my arsenal of great recordings. And yet, some find the recording a bit too close for comfort.
And, I get it. When we listen to live piano we’re not four feet away. We’re sitting back in the room perhaps 20 feet from the instrument (if we’re lucky) and the sound we get is quite different than what the pianist hears as well as the recording microphones.
The same would be true for just about any instrument or vocal. We’re rarely as close as the microphones that capture the performance.
But that’s part of the beauty of a great recording. We get front row seats that few ever get to enjoy. With our stereo systems and well recorded music, we get closer and more intimate than we’d ever have a chance to engage with live.
I have a wonderful recording of Itzhak Perlman recorded on stage from a stereo microphone pair not less than a few feet from the master and his instrument. It’s a remarkable vantage point that no one in the audience had the opportunity to enjoy. My vantage point connects me with the music and all the instrument’s tiny nuances.
Great recordings and great systems give us front row seats to the music.