Interesting Revelation

On studio recording techniques, from Charles Rosen’s Piano Notes:

There used to be a prejudice that music of different styles needed different sorts of resonance – [for instance,] a contemporary piece should have a drier and more acid sound than the standard Romantic works. I experienced the results of this nonsense once with two days of recording for French radio. On the first day I played almost an hour of Schumann, and the quality of the recording seemed reasonable. On the second day, I played Schoenberg’s opp. 19 and 25, and listening to the first take I was astonished at the ugly sound, although it was the same studio and the same instrument. “This is the microphone setup for contemporary music,” the engineer assured me, but I insisted that the placement of the previous day be restored. I was reminded of Schoenberg’s remark, “My music is not modern, just badly played.” There was a policy of recording it badly as well….

Hmmm… explains a few things, particularly those harsh early recordings of Webern.