Recording sessions have a unique vibe. They require a mindset different from concerts and different from rehearsals. Recording takes as much mental focus as playing a concert, but it doesn’t usually summon the adrenaline like a concert does. It also takes stamina; musicians want to give their best to every take, but they can’t afford to exhaust themselves too soon. The special demands of recording mean that studio musicians tend to be some of the best, most experienced musicians in the world. And when you watch a fine orchestra in a recording session you often see the things that distinguish professionals: their confidence, their quickness, their ability to relax while focusing on the work.
This video shows part of a recording session by the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. They are playing The Tempest, a symphonic poem by John Knowles Paine, inspired by Shakespeare’s play. Though this video does not include the complete piece, it’s worth watching because JoAnn Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra make a strong case for the music. (If you’d like to hear the entire piece you can find a complete but somewhat inferior recording here.)
Paine was the first American to make a strong mark as a composer of concert music. The Tempest dates from 1877. Paine got his musical education in Germany, and his music sounds thoroughly nineteenth-century German. Placed alongside European composers of the period, he would rank in the second tier–not quite distinctive enough to rise definitively above the rest, but a fine craftsman sparked by interesting ideas. The Tempest has some of his best music.
Performed by the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta (13 minutes)