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Carl Nielsen Piano Music - Christian Eggen
Carl Nielsen Piano Music - Christian Eggen
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Carl Nielsen Piano Music - Christian Eggen

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Carl Nielsen had a very original conception of what music can be. It is all about rhetoric, of the way music "talks": how to set musical statements in motion, how to create dynamics and contrasting elements, and how to express different musical situations. When you read his memoirs you are struck by his eye for a situation – the way he picks up the minor drama in some everyday occurrence, and how he conceives it as interplay between contrasting forces. This was also how he experienced music, and he uses models of this type when he composes. For Nielsen, this was the essence of life. This is his own contribution to musical history.

Nielsen is an anachronism, and that in itself makes his music interesting. In his music traditional tonality has to accommodate modern structures, while agitated musical phrases must fit into a harmonic framework and structural fabric that may be constricting. All this energizes the music in all sorts of directions. Any attempt to categorize these factors would be unhelpful, as well as being something Nielsen would have disapproved of. Had he subscribed to a single neat aesthetic model we could perhaps have found something cogent to say about it. But he evades any such commentary because he is himself always looking for something new. He is like a sniffer dog perpetually smelling out new musical possibilities. Nor did he have any regular compositional method. He just began at the beginning and felt his way forward. "We have no idea where we will end up," he used to say.

Nielsen's music, being so personal, is full of original features that will delight new listeners. Today, with so many well-worn musical paths, it is his ability to surprise and take us in unexpected directions that is exciting and valuable. Nielsen's originality will always be there. No one else has written quite like him, and no one will do so again. May his music live on! - Christian Eggen 2015

I have a strong personal bond with this particular recording. I still remember the intensity of Christian's playing. There was a degree of concentration where the instrumental and musical development from take to take was evident in Christian's every movement and in his physical contact with the instrument. For me, a young sound engineer at the time, it was an experience that set a benchmark for later work in music production.

This recording was made direct to DAT in 1993. Early digital technology had many drawbacks and weaknesses. For this remastering we dug out the original SONY PCM-2700 from our storage and fed test signals into it to provide a sonic "fingerprint" of the converter. Using new technology from MQA we can now correct inaccuracies in the time domain, the so-called pre- and postringing in the impulse response, that were present in the old digital recordings. The result lifts a veil from the sound image and gives us a transparent and intimate listening experience.

This was one of my first productions after completing my education as a sound engineer. The set-up was extremely simple and straightforward: a stereo pair of Brüel & Kjær omnidirectional microphones recorded direct onto a DAT player. A brand new Steinway D-model had just arrived from the factory in Hamburg to the old Oslo University Hall. A few months later this particular piano was sold to a theatre, where it was unfortunately badly serviced and ended up a virtual ruin. Perhaps it is this very element of irretrievability that makes the recording of this instrument so special, but I should add that I have never, in all the years since, come across a piano with such a strong sonic personality. - Morten Lindberg, 2015

This album is the first example of a "white-glove" process utilizing the MQA technology. If we play the old CD, the music is in there - but also all the problems of early digital converters: the sound is indistinct, brittle and grainy. Morten is a great recording engineer, as can be heard in this earliest work; he is also a careful archivist with the original equipment in the cupboard. We used special signals to capture the characteristics of the digital converter so that the MQA encoder could remove its ’fingerprint’ and reveal the original sound. This isn't changing the music in any way, it's more like cleaning an old painting that had been stained with smoke. Done carefully it doesn’t change the picture, it reveals the artist's intent by removing an obscuring film.

Using conventional digital converters and processing, audio has been blurred more than we realise and in a way that makes it unnatural, remote and lacking immediacy. To overcome this, modern ’re-mastering’ will often add artificial reverberation and compression to try to restore brilliance and a sense of space, but it never succeeds. With MQA we don’t need to ‘brighten’ or ‘add’ - the artifacts are removed and what is left is the brilliant, sensitive, and natural original.

Using MQA this recording is a total revelation! You can clearly hear the instrument timbre, the room, the piano action, Christian's technique, and - the point of it all - we get lost in the music. You'll hear an incredible sense of space and clarity in this recording. So we think it's very exciting, because it's being brought back, authentically, through the lens of the original equipment. - Bob Stuart, 2015

MQA is an end-to-end process which captures the original sound and delivers it perfectly all the way through to playback. It sounds best through an MQA decoder which confirms this studio recording as you listen, but even with no decoder you will enjoy something much finer than the original CD. Using pioneering scientific research into how people hear, MQA technology captures the full magic of an original audio performance in a file size that's small enough to stream or download.

BobTalks about this project

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Album title
Carl Nielsen Piano Music

Christian Eggen

Catalogue #
Disc 1
Stereo audio file distribution
- no physical product
Disc 2


Release date
December 2015
Recording date
May 1993
Universitetets Aula, Norway
Original source