Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oscar Peterson Re-Performed on Unmistakable

Unmistakable is the title of the “Zenph Re-Performance®” release of Oscar Peterson on Sony Masterworks. According to the back of the CD package, this process takes audio performances and turning them back into live performances through software that extracts every nuance of the recorded performance and storing this in a high-resolution digital file, the files contain every note played including pedal actions, volume and articulations. The files are then played back on an acoustic piano fitted with sophisticated computers so the listener can sit in the room’ as if one wad there when the original performance took place. This is the ambition and it has been used for classical performances as well as a CD of Art Tatum.

On this CD we have eight performances by the legendary Oscar Peterson from several different recordings of live performances. High points include a breakneck Back Home In Indiana, When I Fall in Love, an extended Duke Ellington Medley and Goodbye. There are moments of exhilarating displays of Peterson’s Tatum-esque virtuosity mixed in with some contemplative ones. Peterson has his advocates and critics, but the restoration does provide wonderful sound, although without the audience and ambience of the original recordings.

The music is presented in both a stereo version and a binaural stereo version which is stated to be the ultimate headphone experience. While the CD contains almost 80 minutes of music, there is actually about 40 minutes of each and I could not distinguish the two versions on my headphones playing this through my MacBook. While audiophiles may have a different experience, many will view this as purchasing two virtually identical presentations of the eight performances. Fans of Oscar Peterson will certainly enjoy the vividness of the sound on this in any event.

My review copy was provided by a publicist.

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