Messiaen Recording

in Blog

27 November 2008

JG records Quartet for the End of Time at Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge.

Recording such a moving piece of music expertly performed in an excellent location was a pleasure. This was a dedicated recording session with quite a lot of editing in post, so there were lots of opportunities to study the score which was fascinating.

The acoustic in Jesus College Chapel is exquisite. Away from any traffic or other noises and rumbles, the Chapel’s acoustic seems to amplify even the quietest sounds and the reverberation takes several seconds to decay to silence. The only distraction was the bell in the clock tower which, incidentally, sounded magnificent from within the building.

I set up in a quiet space underneath the organ in the beautiful Chapel.

Taming such a lively acoustic was challenging, especially since I was using omnidirectional microphones which require precise placement but give a very pleasing sound when everything is right. Moving the main pair of microphones 6 inches forwards or backwards made quite a large difference in the balance between direct and reflected sound, and the relative balance within the ensemble. A stereo microphone was placed by the piano to bring it into focus since it sounded too distant otherwise.

Excerpt from VII. Fouillis d’arcs-en-ciel, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps

Recording engineer: Jonathan Green

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