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"A Gathering of Friends" Williams / Yo Yo Ma album with Pablo Sainz-Villegas & Jessica Zhou


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5 minutes ago, Holko said:

How's the sound?

My first impression is that it's extremely good, cello sounds beefy, very present and detailed. Same for the harp, it's like you're standing right in front of it. But it's not that the solo instruments are overbearing or anything, the balance with the orchestra... well it just sounds right to me.

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Did Shawn Murphy travel to NYC to engineer this?

 

EDIT: Answered my own question from @Arnaud59's photos.  JW used his usual crew

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7 minutes ago, crumbs said:

Yes, it just went live on YouTube.

 

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....

 

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.....

 

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......

 

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Sony Classical should call one of them Johnny or Curley.

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Oh dear... who on earth mastered this?

 

It's brickwalled like a pop album, uncomfortable listening even at 50% volume. Especially with headphones :/

 

The room acoustics are really lost when the volume of the instruments are this overpowering.

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Indeed... this looks really bad and also SOUNDS really bad.

 

Limiters can be perfectly fine but it seems like those were applied without any care, the loud parts are completely ruined...

 

image.png

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Yeah, the delicacy of the instrumentation has been totally lost because it's mastered so loudly!

 

Some of the solo sections are unpleasant even with the volume low.

 

Incredibly disappointing, because it was totally avoidable!

 

22 minutes ago, Chewy said:

image.png

 

A comparison to the mastering of With Malice Towards None on the last Spielberg/Williams album:

 

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1 hour ago, Jurassic Shark said:

John Williams should sue John Williams for being on the same label.

Or DG should sue them both (the other John Williams and Sony Classical).

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So it sounds like "Across the Stars" which is a little oversteered, too?

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1 minute ago, BB-8 said:

So it sounds like "Across the Stars" which is a little oversteered, too?

 

I'm not a huge fan of the mastering on that album, but it's certainly not as hot as this album.

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24 minutes ago, Chewy said:

Indeed... this looks really bad and also SOUNDS really bad.

 

Limiters can be perfectly fine but it seems like those were applied without any care, the loud parts are completely ruined...

 

 

 

I still think that the mix and recording itself are totally fine and transparent. But I have to agree, someone did fuck up really bad with mastering this.

 

In 'Highwoods Ghost', at the 8 minute mark, you can literally hear the gain reduction kicking in multiple times. WTF!!! :banghead:

 

 

Also this seems to be a problem with the cello concerto and Highwood's Ghost. The 'Schindler's List' pieces, 'A Prayer for Peace' and 'With Malice Toward None' are perfectly fine.

 

The guy who mastered this received multiple Grammy Awards i.e. for "Best Engineered Album"... http://www.phoenixaudiollc.com/awards-testimonials

Well.... :eh:

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7 minutes ago, MaxTheHouseelf said:

Also this seems to be a problem with the cello concerto and Highwood's Ghost. The 'Schindler's List' pieces, 'A Prayer for Peace' and 'With Malice Toward None' are perfectly fine.

 

Interesting!!

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10 minutes ago, MaxTheHouseelf said:

 

In 'Highwoods Ghost', at the 8 minute mark, you can literally hear the gain reduction kicking in multiple times. WTF!!! :banghead:

 

Geez, I hadn't even gotten that far yet :(

 

It's like an automated gain filter has been applied to the entire album without even checking their work. I don't generally mind room noise in recordings (adds to the organic quality) but every track starts and ends with loud static/hiss. You'd better hope you're listening on a device that supports gapless playback.

 

It's maddening that they spent all this time and money assembling these amazing artists, rigging a fantastic New York stage to perform it, flying over John's engineer to record it, his music editor to assemble it... only to blow it all up at the final hurdle.

 

Even the packaging is gorgeous!

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11 minutes ago, MaxTheHouseelf said:

Also this seems to be a problem with the cello concerto and Highwood's Ghost. The 'Schindler's List' pieces, 'A Prayer for Peace' and 'With Malice Toward None' are perfectly fine.

 

Yeah because there is no percussion or anything loud on these!

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5 minutes ago, Chewy said:

 

Yeah because there is no percussion or anything loud on these!

Exactly.

 

8 minutes ago, crumbs said:

 

Geez, I hadn't even gotten that far yet :(

 

It's like an automated gain filter has been applied to the entire album without even checking their work. I don't generally mind room noise in recordings (adds to the organic quality) but every track starts and ends with loud static/hiss. You'd better hope you're listening on a device that supports gapless playback.

 

It's maddening that they spent all this time and money assembling these amazing artists, rigging a fantastic New York stage to perform it, flying over John's engineer to record it, his music editor to assemble it... only to blow it all up at the final hurdle.

 

Even the packaging is gorgeous!

Yeah no quality control. I mean, if you apply a limiter, wouldn't be the loudest parts the first things you would check to see how and if it's affecting the sound?!

I don't know about the room hiss, I have to turn the volume up quite a bit to notice it.

 

But yeah, otherwise I enjoy the performances.

Not so sure about 'With Malice Toward None' though, this seems to be a new arrangement that deviates quite a bit in melody from the original piano piece, or the version from the Spielberg/Williams Collab Nr. 3 album.

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26 minutes ago, Chewy said:

 

Yeah because there is no percussion or anything loud on these!

 

Better stop using those exclamation points, or else Tim Martyn is gonna apply unlimited amounts of limiter on you.

 

6 minutes ago, MaxTheHouseelf said:

Yeah no quality control.

 

This seems to happen every time Shawn Murphy is involved. Perhaps his fee is so high they'll have to drop any kind of quality control from the budget.

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2 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

John Williams should sue John Williams for being on the same label.

Sue the engineers first!

 

From now on it's "So nicht Classical".

 

11 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Better stop using those exclamation points, or else Tim Martyn is gonna apply unlimited amounts of limiter on you.

 

 

This seems to happen every time Shawn Murphy is involved. Perhaps his fee is so high they'll have to drop any kind of quality control from the budget.

Murphy's law?

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Is there a chance that Sony will just quietly press a new batch of corrected discs and sell those once the first run has either sold out or has been recalled from the warehouse? Maybe if we wait a couple months to buy this CD, it won't have this issue anymore.

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Well, HD Tracks appears to have posted the Hi Res digital version.

https://www.hdtracks.com/#/album/626fdd93962aaf2480692b49

 

$20.99. HDTracks usually sends out a new released discount code on Fridays, so that will be available for 20% off for the weekend.

<Update: 20% code is released: HEADPHONEHD. And the email even highlighted A Gathering of Friends in the big albums released this week.>

 

Oddly, I don't see Presto Music having the digital version yet (despite the time being 4 AM in the UK) or Qobuz which usually posts based on France's midnight (5 hours ago). And these two are not usually region locked like Spotify.

 

I wonder if the European retailers are being held back until Friday US EDT (which doesn't explain why HDTracks has already posted since it is only 11:25 pm EDT).

 

Edit - I guess the release window for them was later than midnight. Presto and Qobuz are both up now:

Presto - $18

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9328085--a-gathering-of-friends

 

Qobuz - $16.59 ($11.09 if a Sublime streaming member)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/a-gathering-of-friends-john-williams-yo-yo-ma-new-york-philharmonic/af72fsapf143b

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, crumbs said:

Yeah, the delicacy of the instrumentation has been totally lost because it's mastered so loudly!

 

Some of the solo sections are unpleasant even with the volume low.

 

Incredibly disappointing, because it was totally avoidable!

 

 

A comparison to the mastering of With Malice Towards None on the last Spielberg/Williams album:

 

image.png

 

Really too bad this has become an industry norm. There is no reason that acoustic music should be mastered like a pop album. I also hear a lot of albums that have waaaaaaay to much compression. Especially with piano albums like Montage. The music and performance was great, but it was so compressed the beautiful resonance of, especially JW's piece, is totally lost. The only excuse I ever got for this kind of mastering was "oh its because people listen to it on their phones now and needs to sound good through phone speakers". I don't think anyone is listening to this album with phone speakers....

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I've been listening on Tidal.

 

I really enjoyed the revised Cello Concerto. I now have to go back and listen to the original version (which I did a few weeks ago), but I want to pay more attention. It's really a very modern work - generally more so than Violin Concerto No. 2, and I think the revision pushes this aspect further. I feel it is more complete than before despite being shorter overall. Or might be because of that.

 

So far, Highwood's Ghost is not grabbing me as much as it did in the Bernstein memorial concert premiere. 

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First movement of the Cello Concerto sounds great so far!

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Just started listening. I didn't realize the album released today. I'm really enjoying this lilting new version of the Krakow Ghetto piece. The cello kind of skips and dances around. 

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3 hours ago, lairdo said:

Well, HD Tracks appears to have posted the Hi Res digital version.

https://www.hdtracks.com/#/album/626fdd93962aaf2480692b49

 

$20.99. HDTracks usually sends out a new released discount code on Fridays, so that will be available for 20% off for the weekend.

<Update: 20% code is released: HEADPHONEHD. And the email even highlighted A Gathering of Friends in the big albums released this week.>

 

Oddly, I don't see Presto Music having the digital version yet (despite the time being 4 AM in the UK) or Qobuz which usually posts based on France's midnight (5 hours ago). And these two are not usually region locked like Spotify.

 

I wonder if the European retailers are being held back until Friday US EDT (which doesn't explain why HDTracks has already posted since it is only 11:25 pm EDT).

 

 

Do Presto actually carry Sony Classical (or the other major labels, DG etc) releases digitally? I’m not a sure that they do although happy to be proven wrong as they are my “go to” for classical music purchases! It’s a weird thing that the online classical stores (such as Presto and Chandos) only tend to carry the independent labels as digital downloads and you have the get the major labels from mainstream digital music stores (ie HD tracks, Amazon or 7Digital where they are usually more expensive too).

 

Still looking forward to this despite the apparent mastering issues. I repeat my comments from the Hunchback debacle that these huge labels manage to balls up major releases compared to the diligence and quality of our boutique film music labels (not to mention the high quality product put out by the independent classical labels such as Bis, Naxos and Chandos). 

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6 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

Do Presto actually carry Sony Classical (or the other major labels, DG etc) releases digitally? I’m not a sure that they do although happy to be proven wrong as they are my “go to” for classical music purchases! It’s a weird thing that the online classical stores (such as Presto and Chandos) only tend to carry the independent labels as digital downloads and you have the get the major labels from mainstream digital music stores (ie HD tracks, Amazon or 7Digital where they are usually more expensive too).

 

 

Presto and Qobuz both carry the Sony digital files. And indeed, like HDTracks, the album is now available at both online stores in 24/96 format. I guess something about the release timing required them to wait until later today to post them

 

Presto - $18

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9328085--a-gathering-of-friends

 

Qobuz - $16.59 ($11.09 if a Sublime streaming member)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/a-gathering-of-friends-john-williams-yo-yo-ma-new-york-philharmonic/af72fsapf143b

 

 

 

22 hours ago, crumbs said:

Yeah, the delicacy of the instrumentation has been totally lost because it's mastered so loudly!

 

Some of the solo sections are unpleasant even with the volume low.

 

Incredibly disappointing, because it was totally avoidable!

 

 

A comparison to the mastering of With Malice Towards None on the last Spielberg/Williams album:

 

image.png

 

Attached is the waveform from With Malice Towards None from A Gathering of Friends. It's pretty similar in dynamics to the Spielberg/Williams album.

malice.jpg

Upon listening to it, the cello is very prominent and seems to have had a microphone very close to it. It doesn't seem to have been overly limited though (closer than a Prayer for Peace, for example). 

 

22 hours ago, Chewy said:

Indeed... this looks really bad and also SOUNDS really bad.

 

Limiters can be perfectly fine but it seems like those were applied without any care, the loud parts are completely ruined...

 

image.png

 

I believe this is from track 3 the Cello Concerto Scherzo. It's the same on the hi res digital files, and the timpani hits are partly what is driving those max waveform movements. This is the worst moment of the issues, but it happens in other sections of the Cello Concerto and in the middle of Highwood's Ghost too. The other tracks seem ok.

 

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Confession of stupidity: I never realized that the theme in the fourth movement of the concerto is the same as the first movement.  Overall, I like this version better than the original (I have not carefully listened to the intervening versions over the years).  The whole thing is true to Williams's voice and not readily associable to other composers.  

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20 minutes ago, Stu said:

My favorite opening is still the one with the grand acclamation before settling in, specifically the one on the Slatkin recording which differs slightly from the original album recording.

 

Agreed, I also like the cadenza of the first movement better in that one as well.

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Ordered, I'll probably get it sunday!

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1 hour ago, Tom said:

Confession of stupidity: I never realized that the theme in the fourth movement of the concerto is the same as the first movement.  Overall, I like this version better than the original (I have not carefully listened to the intervening versions over the years).  The whole thing is true to Williams's voice and not readily associable to other composers.  

 

Has anyone made a catalog of the various revisions Williams has made to this piece? I've tried to keep track of the various concert suites for films he's revised over the years (Face of Pan, Scherzo for Motorcycle, Han and Leia) but revisions of his non-film works seem a bit harder to track.

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

My favorite opening is still the one with the grand acclamation before settling in, specifically the one on the Slatkin recording which differs slightly from the original album recording.

 

Same here. That's actually a return to the original opening from the premiere.

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I lost the count (but I assume @Junion keeped it), but we are still very lucky to get new albums by John Williams in 2022, that's incredible... It's like his 116th collaboration album (that makes a lot of "friends"!) and at least his 264th original album overall!!!

 

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4 hours ago, lairdo said:

 

Presto and Qobuz both carry the Sony digital files. And indeed, like HDTracks, the album is now available at both online stores in 24/96 format. I guess something about the release timing required them to wait until later today to post them

 

Presto - $18

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/9328085--a-gathering-of-friends

 

Qobuz - $16.59 ($11.09 if a Sublime streaming member)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/a-gathering-of-friends-john-williams-yo-yo-ma-new-york-philharmonic/af72fsapf143b

 

Must be because I'm in the UK as I can only see it available on CD at Presto. However, it is up at 7Digital (https://uk.7digital.com/artist/john-williams-yo-yo-ma-new-york-philharmonic/release/a-gathering-of-friends-20933890?f=20%2C19%2C12%2C16%2C17%2C9%2C2) so that'll do me (even if 7Digital is always more than Presto...).

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