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Zenph’s variations on a theme of Glenn Gould

test 6 March 2007

US: A new technology developed by Zenph Studios that transfers all of the notes and nuances of a recorded piano performance to a high-resolution digital file, then allows them to be ‘re-performed’, has been deployed on Glenn Gould’s celebrated 1955 performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The new recording – produced using Ultrasone HFI 700 headphones – will be released by Sony BMG as a hybrid multichannel SACD next month, reports PSN-e.

The data stored in a high-resolution digital file is represented as MIDI files that, in the case of the Gould project, were played back on Yamaha’s Disklavier Pro, a concert grand equipped with special computer hardware. The ‘re-performance’ took place in front of a live audience at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio last September.

The files captured from the original audio recordings are said to contain every detail of how every note was played – including pedal actions, volume and articulations. The Yamaha Disklavier was voiced by Marc Wienert after he had assessed the character of the piano used in the original recording, while the new DSD version was captured by Richard King using a Sonoma workstation. Both binaural and surround sound versions will be included on the new release.

Ultrasone HFI 700 headphones were used throughout work on the Gould disc. “We get the best response in all frequency ranges from Ultrasone headphones,” noted Zenph president John Q. Walker. “The original recordings we’re listening to have multiple layers of hiss and other artifacts, but lots of nuances and performance material are slightly buried in there that we can now enable the next generation of listeners to hear. Zenph has found that headphones eliminate any kind of extra reverberation that could come from listening through monitors in a resonating room.”


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