THE TREASURE HUNT: A Different Kind of Record Review
©1983 Mark B. Anstendig
Most people are interested in musical experiences that move them emotionally and not in the techniques used to create those experiences. The listener wants to know what the composer is expressing and which performances express it. Unfortunately, very few available performances reflect the composer's intentions. This series of record reviews explains the emotional content of the classical masterworks, cautions the readers about typical misinterpretations of each work, and refers the reader only to recordings that achieve that emotional content, regardless of whether the recordings are current or out of print.
Listening to performances that do not reflect the real emotional content of the music conditions one to hear the music in that particular manner. The same holds true for excellent performances that are not equalized during playback or are played back on equipment that cannot reproduce the expressive subtleties. When one finally hears an authentic performance correctly reproduced, it is difficult to hear it objectively because one anticipates the expressive content to which one has been conditioned. Exposing oneself to musical performances of less than finest quality is also dangerous because our bodies adjust themselves to the coarseness of the vibrational quality of the performance and one loses one's powers of discrimination. 1
Something of inferior quality can only be detected when one is familiar with a finer example. "The Treasure Hunt" draws upon Mr. Anstendig's extensive musical background to recommend recorded performances of the finest quality which are meant to serve the listener as dependable introductions to the great classical masterworks as the composers meant them. The recordings have been used for and proved themselves in The Anstendig Institute's research work in sound and sound-related fields. The expressive content has been experienced by the subjects of our research tests, and the vibrational quality of the performance has been considered to have a positive, refining effect upon the listener. 2 If one studies these performances carefully, listening to them many times until one's "ear" has fully digested them, one will be better able to listen to and evaluate other performances.
The reviews also provide basic instructions on how to equalize each particular recording. Listening to unequalized sound-reproduction and using inferior sound-systems falsifies the interpretive contents of a recorded performance. All recordings, without exception, need to be equalized during playback, or they will not sound natural nor will one hear all the expressive content.3 An equalizer is an elaborate tone-control that allows the listener to adjust the balance of frequencies anywhere in the entire frequency range, not just the highs and lows, as with tone-controls. The performances suggested in this series are of such an expressive fineness and subtlety that they absolutely must be equalized if one wants to hear their nuances. They should also be played on better quality equipment.
In order to equalize the sound, first play one movement of the piece (or a section if there are no movements). Then go back to the beginning and listen to the whole piece straight through. This also allows time for your body to enter into the very fine flow of the music. The Anstendig Institute recommends recording the whole piece on tape so that one can hear it straight through without interruption.
Music is the highest of all the arts and these performances stand at the pinnacle of their art. They are treasures of such value that it is well worth a good deal of sacrifice to be able to experience them. But be warned, they do not give up their riches without making demands on the listener. They demand the ability to remain still and quiet and the ability to concentrate over the whole length of the music. But these are desirable capabilities that everyone should develop, and there is no better, more enjoyable way to develop them than by listening to great music.
'This is explained in our papers "Our Conditioned Responses To Music" and "The Crucial Role of the Quality of the Musical Experience in Our Lives", available free of charge from The Anstendig Institute.
2As described in our papers "Improving the Quality of the Vibrational Influences in Your Life" and "The Body as Machine".
3The Anstendig Institute has numerous papers dealing with the need to equalize all sound-reproduction. They are available free of charge.
The Anstendig Institute is giving a regular series of music-listening programs featuring these recordings. The series is designed to give the public an opportunity to hear what these recordings sound like when correctly equalized. We would like to hear from anyone interested in these programs.
The Anstendig Institute is a non-profit research and educational institute that studies the vibrational influences in our environment, particularly those of sight and sound, and how they affect sensory perception. Its papers on sound reproduction, problems of focusing in photography, psychology of hearing and seeing, and erratic vibrational influences that affect our lives are widely distributed throughout the world. All are available free of charge.