I’ve had requests from some of my music loving friends for some samples of my own location recording, especially pipe organ. I record for love of music and as a hobby.
These are available two way, either directly playable on your computer, or by download so you may play them where and with whatever you wish. All files except one are of CD resolution.
The first recording is that last piece and encore from the dedication concert of the Memorial Pipe Organ of the Church of the Annunciation, Lewisville, Texas in 2003. I found that instrument at the Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, FL a couple of years before. It was a “fixer upper” with an illustrious heritage. Redeemer had a multi-million dollar gift to replace it from the John Ringling North family and were offering it for less than the value of the scrap tin in the pipes. Fact is, though, it was still playing beautifully. However, they needed it out of there to get their new one in, so the deal. I’ll mention only the very basic facts about it here. It started life as an E. M. Skinner and had those irreplaceable Skinner classic string stops that bring tears. It was expanded later by Moller, and refurbished by McManis. As I found it, it was 58 stops. It was rebuilt by Patrick Murphy of Philadelphia, shipped to Texas and installed and tonal directed by Dan Garland of Fort Worth as a 28 stop instrument with room left to add a solo and choir division at a later date. This was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Bradley Welch, winner of the 5th Dallas International Organ Competition, played the dedication.
This was recorded using a DAW (digital audio workstation) of my own design and construction, microphone preamp was a vacuum tube HHB Radius, the microphones were Oktava ML-52 ribbons placed about mid nave on the floor at what I felt was “the best seat in the house.” The reverberation time at Annunciation is about 3.5 seconds and slap-free. It’s one of the finest acoustic environments I’ve ever been in, and the best I’ve ever recorded in.
All these files are at 16/44.1 (CD resolution) except the Spanker and GuilmontWidor files labeled 24/88.2. If the embedded player fails to appear and you see “Download:” in unbolded type instead, or the files skip too much, it’s your connection speed and you’ll need to download the files before playing, most easily done via the “Play or Download:” link. For those with limited experience using Internet Explorer, just right click on the link and choose “save target as.” Of course, this in the best way for audiophiles without a direct connection of their systems to the web.
Play or Download:
Direct Download: 23 Saint James Infirmary
Most of my recordings are serious music. However, that’s as much due to circumstance as to preference. Some years ago I got an opportunity to record a fairly successful Austin group called “The Asylum Street Spankers.” I like their music and they are totally acoustic, even eschewing amplification for their singers. The following is “St. James Infirmary,” a great jazz standard perhaps best known in performances by Louis Armstrong. The recording was made live at the Saxon Street Pub in Austin. I used two separate computers and four ribbon microphones. One was a very advanced Digital Audio Workstation I designed to handle 4 streams at once, and I used it to record an experimental surround recording at 24/192. It was quite daring for the time as the resulting digital stream was in excess of 25mbps and the recordings take up over 25GB. The other machine was the front channels only at 24/88.2. I’ve also provided here at transcode to 16/44.1 or regular CD resolution.
Play or Download: GuilmontWidorCD
Direct Download: GuilmontWidor
J.S. Rheinberger “Abendlied.” This is the “softer” side of this instrument, with choir. Rheinberger wrote this hauntingly beautiful piece at age 16.
Play or Download: Abendlied
I made this recording of the 1861 Hook Organ of Holy Cross Church in Marine City, MI while on a trip to Washington state. I happen to have basic equipment as I was planning to record my niece’s senior recital. The piece was composed by Daniel John Susan, former organist of my parish. He’d left as he didn’t see a future without a pipe organ. It was due to this terrible personal and parish loss I set to work to get the instrument now there as I never wanted to lose such a wonderful MM again. This is an improvisation on the Anglican hymn “Earth and All Stars.” Daniel was apologetic about not having anything “concert ready,” but I think you’ll find this pretty extraordinary. The instrument is, off course, totally mechanical except for the electric blower. Beautiful image and more info on it at http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/gallery/us_midwest/michigan/marine-city_holy-cross_hook.shtml.
Play or Download: EarthandAllStars
Worst acoustic problem I ever faced. I’d have just said “no” except I’d promised my friend Paul Garner, DSO clarinetist, I’d record this piece. It was part of a music festival in 2004 and he and other DSO musicians formed an “ad hoc” ensemble to perform the Schubert Octet for Strings in F Major. It is scored for clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass and is one of the longest pieces of chamber music ever written at nearly an hour. The location was a multi-purpose hall at Fair Park that seated perhaps 500 in folding chairs on a concrete floor with hard walls and ceiling, as well as a lot of loud side metal doors. The stage was a nightmare. Gorgeous view of a garden, as it had all GLASS back walls made even worse by having a 45 degree section on either side that basically formed a reflective horn. Yikes. The saving part was that I had my highest reach boom stand, so I put the ribbon mikes as high as possible, forward to the ensemble, and with equal distance to each player. It was a plus that they were in a semi-circle arrangement. I remain amazed that it sounds as good as it does. The performance was truly excellent, with particularly wonderful work by the principal violinist on this movement, the final.
VI. Andante molto – Allegro – Andante molto – Allegro molto
Play or Download: Track06
This piece is another example of how I handle poor acoustics, not quite as bad as the above but still pretty poor conditions. The recital was in a converted fire station, and it sounded like a small gym. The audience was in folding metal chairs that were noisy. I miked VERY closely and pointed the back lobes of the ribbons at the ceiling to minimize both the building as well as the ambient noise. I’ll try to post the composer and piece, which escapes me at the moment. However, it’s the final movement of a clarinet sonata with piano. The clarinetist was Dallas Symphony principal clarinetist Paul Garner and the pianist is Michelle McDonald who is also heard in the last piece in this post.
Play or Download: GarnerMix
The last piece is from my only commercial release, which sold a few hundred copies in the DFW area. When first approached by Michelle McDonald, pianist and producer, I was not happy with the venue. It was the Mesquite Center for the Performing arts. Acoustics are nice for large groups and when an audience is present, but, in my opinion, way too live for chamber music when empty. However, it wasn’t my call and now I am glad it wasn’t. I miked quite closely to reduce the empty hall returns, but left some space. The resulting sound is pleasing to me. This one is also a really excellent imaging test for your system. I’ve never accomplished better imaging and you’ll hear the principal violinist on the left, then the cello, then the viola, and the piano with clarinet in front of it on the right if your imaging is good. The violin is an Amati played by the principal second chair violinist (at the time, now retired) of the Dallas Symphony. The piece is “Overture on Hebrew Themes,” Opus 34, by Sergei Prokofiev performed by the Hubbard Chamber Music Ensemble, Michele McDonald, music director. It’s a really fun piece that provides a moment for each instrument, and several pairings, plus full band.
Play or Download: 019 Overture on Hebrew Themes