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the Golden Echo

04 Mar 2009 04:50 #260 by Michael Thompson
the Golden Echo was created by Michael Thompson

I love your recording "The Golden Echo". Can you tell us about the recording sessions and recording process? What horn did you use?

Dan Hrdy

Michael Thompson's answer:

Dear Dan,

I'm glad you enjoyed the Golden Echo recording. It's been deleted for some time and consequently quite hard to get hold of. I am planning a limited re-issue on a double CD, along with the Strauss concertos.

We recorded The Golden Echo over two days at the end of 1985. The recording took place in a large church, which you might guess from the recorded acoustic. The record company was a small independent called Nimbus and they had a very definite philosophy of what their recordings should be about. In their words, they would "use editing to save a performance, but not to create one." In practice, this meant very long takes; usually entire movements. It's interesting that they considered the CD as a recording of a performance. In many respects, what we did was similar to many "Live" recordings. Usually, these "Live" recordings will include takes from more than one performance and also the general rehearsals. In addition,there will usually have been what is called a "patch" session, to cover anything that didn't go well in either performances or rehearsals. The reason many orchestras are bringing out "Live" recordings is that they are much cheaper to make than the traditional recording in a studio. That kind of recording has largely disappeared from the classical music scene; they are too expensive and the market is flooded. To return to The Golden Echo; that was an old fashioned, expensive recording, so for us to do it as a quasi "Live" recording was just inefficient. Professional musicians are trained to play with total commitment whenever required, regardless of whether that is in a five hour opera or a thirty second jingle. In my opinion, a performance is a performance and a recording is a recording. That said, I was happy to have the chance to make the record and it was a really enjoyable experience.

The instrument I used on the recording was one a Paxman Model 40. At that time I was using a large bore, since that was what I had used when I had been Principal horn in the Philharmonia. Shortly after that time I switched to a Medium bore Model 40, which is what I still use alongside my Paxman compensating double horn.

Best wishes,
Michael Thompson.

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