Daniele Palma recorded Tosti’s “Mattinata” as well as the opera arias “Questa o quella” and “Una furtiva lacrima” at the fifth symposium of the network, held at City University London on 19th January 2023, accompanied by Adam Cigman-Mark, under the supervision of recording engineer Duncan Miller.
Listen to Daniele’s digitized transfers of Tosti below:
Transfer of “Una furtiva lacrima”:
Two transfers of “Questa o quella”:
Read Adam’s commentary on the experience below:
It really is impossible to appreciate quite how much volume is required from an accompanist for a phonograph recording until you sit down and try it. In the very first take of the Tosti, I felt like I was playing with unnecessary and counter-intuitive force – and still, it turned out to be far too soft on the recording! Traces of a repetitive strain injury began to reemerge as I whacked out the following pieces (especially Questa o Quella, which felt like Shostakovich) – not just because of the volume required per se, but because shutting off my musical instincts (necessary for playing in an unbroken fortissimo) is surprisingly hard to do without also shutting off my technique (which should, in theory, allow for loud playing without fatigue).
At least the resultant inaccuracies and missed notes are mercifully blurred by the recording process (I was interested to find myself gravitating more than usual towards spreading chords, which seemed to give them greater presence and ‘bite’ in the recording). And despite the impossibility of playing really together with a singer (as, from the piano, they’re largely inaudible), the process forces you to focus onto what you can hear from them with far greater intensity – much as, when any one sense is limited, the others are forced to work harder. I’d have been interested to see how recording onto the wax cylinder would have informed and inflected a normal concert performance with any one of the singers afterwards…