Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oscar Peterson: A Zenph Re-Performance

Zenph studios, who brought us computerized player-piano replications of Art Tatum and Glenn Gould, is issuing a "re-performance" of some Oscar Peterson tracks from the 1970s and '80s.  A description of the recording session is here.  Eric Felten seems to miss the sounds of Peterson grunting and the audience reacting.  Regardless of what Walter Benjamin might have thought of all these mechanical reproductions, it seems as though the proximate cause is to wring every last drop of commercial potential from the dying record industry.  We've seen this time and again in recent years—gimmicky releases of music by dead performers: Enrico Caruso and Ray Charles with overdubbed new accompaniments, remastered Bob Dylan recordings that sounded fine to begin with, and countless opulent deluxe reissues of classic albums (such as this and this).  Next thing we know, maybe Zenph Studios will be  perfecting robots that can play all the instruments—and reissuing re-performances of everything in sight—vintage Toscanini NBC symphony sessions, classic rock and jazz tracks...   Machines that can play the saxophone:

....and the violin:

Here's Joshua Bell playing along to a re-performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's accompaninent to a 1928 Fritz Kreisler's rendition of Grieg's third violin sonata:

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