Historical Restorations

I have been working with a fascinating, on-going audio restoration project since 1998. It involves improving, or at least restoring to some level of “listenability,” dozens of old and often rare recordings of the late concert violinist Bronislaw Gimpel. Considered by some his students to be one of the greatest violinists ever, Gimpel led an ambitious concert and recording career from the early 1920s until his death in 1979.

You can find more on his history at these sites:

This project was brought to me by a former student of Gimpel, who currently plays with a major symphony orchestra. The work is painstaking. Edit sessions often have run from an afternoon until sunrise the next morning. It requires listening for the tiniest of artifacts (audio engineering jargon for noise); using a variety of software tools to fix ticks, pops, pitch problems and some of the most egregious, “sizzling” record surface noise imaginable; and, often, applying a musical “sixth sense” when making critical cuts and edits.

The results have been rewarding. Here are a several “before” (exactly as I first received them) and “after” examples of our work on a few of Gimpel’s early recordings:

Nigun (Ernest Bloch) — “before”
(Transcribed from a broken record, the only known copy which was glued back together.)

Nigun — “after”
(We may revisit this one — with newer software tools.)

Hungarian Dance No. 1 (Johannes Brahms) — “before”

Hungarian Dance No. 1 — “after”

Tambourin Chinois (Fritz Kreisler) — “before”

Tambourin Chinois — “after”

Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 (Pablo de Sarasate) — “before”

Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 — “after”

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