[Bert van der Wolf is a distinguished Netherlands-based engineer/producer with over thirty years’ experience in developing and advancing high-resolution, multichannel classical recording. Recently he agreed to share his thoughts with us on a variety of topics.]

You have an extraordinarily wide range of experience within the industry. How did you get started on this path?

As a child I discovered I was quite good at playing musical instruments, first piano, later guitar, both classical and pop/jazz. I wanted to study at a conservatory after high school. However, my father encouraged me to consider something more reliable than music, because he felt the odds were against making a living in it. So I started out studying electrical engineering. After three years I got fed up with the culture at that school. I tried to apply at Polygram for an internship, but around then they started accepting only students from the Koninklijk Conservatorium’s recording department. I immediately decided to skip to the conservatory, but first I had to perform military service for a year. The rest is history! At the conservatory, I felt like a fish in the water and basically became a professional producer/engineer in two years, half the usual time needed for the course. I got an internship at Channel Classics and “fell with my nose in the butter,” as they say, because they were just starting the label. I recorded their first 100-plus productions, not to mention countless third-party jobs for other international labels.

What are your earliest memories of hearing good or bad records, of modifying equipment, developing musical values?

I remember listening to my first audio equipment, under my bed, with two different tube radio receivers; I had constructed my own proprietary stereo cartridge from what had been a mono Philips record player. It was magical, playing the records my parents got for free at Readers Digest, just as thrilling as today, when I enjoy good recordings and playback with high-resolution multi-channel immersive formats. The feeling was the same.

And from there?

At the conservatory I was immediately struck by the joy that radiated from the lessons of my most important teacher, Adriaan Verstijnen. His passion was contagious. Every so often I was permitted to follow him around and join at projects: he was working for Harlekijn Holland and Erato, recording Ton Koopman and The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and artists like Reinbert de Leeuw. Later, when I arrived at Channel Classics, I got a true baptism by fire: we did over 40 projects in the first year and a half. Channel always put quality first on its agenda, so I had to perform from Day 1 at the highest level. Luckily I stayed and did well, and many musicians crossed my path.

Photos, here and above, by Brendon Heinst.

Your video from dCS (click here) reminds us of the early days of digital and how it “grew up.” What’s your 21st-century perspective?

We now have a much better knowledge of digital, how it differs from analog and how it became mature to a level that exceeds the best analog. Furthermore, the development of digital mixing tools, the enormous DSP power of edit engines and various plug-ins for reverb, delay, and more have multiplied our options for creativity in the editing and mastering room. That adds a lot to the magic and makes it more likely to communicate exactly what musicians intend to transmit onstage.

What problems remain?

The biggest problem is that digital sound, offering ultra-high resolution, often shoots past the reality of life. An ultra-high-definition TV can show a picture that does not exist in real life. You can zoom in on a fly on the wall at 60 yards and see its eyeballs if you want. In audio it sometimes feels as if transparency and dynamics have been overexposed—exaggerated, really—within the mix. High End now implies a move toward unrealistic transparency and projection from all angles of the soundstage, encouraged by equipment that enables this. But real life has logical blurs around the focal point—a point that should, in contrast, be very high-res!

Perhaps that’s how our brains typically handle live music. Somehow we choose a focal point, and everything else goes into soft focus. Does ultra-resolution work against this?

It’s not necessarily ultra-resolution that’s the problem, it is how engineers react to the new possibilities it offers. In the past, when the best technology captured less information, engineers tended to over-gather data, placing equal emphasis (or worse, over-emphasis) on all aspects of the potential mix. Then, to compensate for the lack of visual and other sensory information (the data our sight, skin, and scent collect at live performances), they created layers—depth of field—via supporting microphones, EQ, and dynamic alterations. They could offer focal points everywhere simultaneously, often incoherent in imaging and perspective.

Remember when HDTV came out? By capturing more information, the new visual transparency revealed too much of the actors’ make-up. This changed the “grime departments” at television shows forever, and vastly complicated the tasks of set decoration, lighting, and more. With ultra-resolution audio, engineers now have to come up with more subtle accents, more sophisticated mixes. That has not happened across the board. Timbres, transients, and imaging are still being overproduced, as if high-res did not exist; the make-up is showing.  Analog—and DSD, in a way—comes with a nice layer of “lingerie,” a term I use for differences between real life and the “ultimate/naked” truth of high-resolution audio.

Sounds like you’re saying “a veil should not be lifted.”

Going back to cruder formats like analog tape or vinyl is certainly not the solution. I am experimenting with unique microphone setups to create a holographic image of the event with interactive transparency: finding elements in the mix that invite the listener’s engagement. I do not want to present everything on a platter. Many mixes are like McDonalds, where you get exactly what you expected. It’s consistent and in that sense “professional,” but ultimately it lacks mystery. With haute cuisine, a diner expects to seek out subtly blended ingredients, discerning their presence within the meal’s gestalt. When you listen to a good holographic recording of an orchestra, the total soundscape should grip you without anything seeming isolated or exaggerated. If a mix focuses on bits and pieces—all the individual sounds, all the moments, with pin-point accuracy—you get recognizable high-res, but not music.

Photo by Aart van der Wal

When you plan a recording session, what are your priorities?

Most important is to create an environment in which musicians can reach their optimal potential. This will be different for every artist, but in general I strive to make the experience inspirational and engaging. My contribution is only a tool; it must never become an obstacle. I am most happy if musicians start talking music immediately after hearing the first take. This means the sound is not blocking their process; it’s just another instrument we must play.

In an engineering/producing relationship with an artist, who chooses whom? What is the basis for a good working partnership?

Many artists know how to find me, and they ask labels to hire me, or they hire me themselves. Challenge also encourages musicians to work with me if they feel the project will benefit from my style. The secret to creating a good partnership is to find the artist’s ultimate strength and put the emphasis on that very aspect!

How do your methods differ from what other engineers do?

I wouldn’t know; I am never there! I do think we all need similar assortments of temperament and skill. This profession is a killer. Some people make it, some leave; there are always others ready to take over your job. I am still here after thirty years—twenty years as an independent!—so it’s clear some musicians appreciate my work.

Has your setup changed in the last ten years?

Not much. I began working in DXD (352kHz/24bit) in 2005 and developed my proprietary (HQMM) microphone matrix system around then too. Because dCS unfortunately left the pro community, I have moved toward Merging Technologies for AD/DA hardware. I still work occasionally with dCS on consumer products, but their systems are no longer compatible with current standards and demands in pro audio. The most striking development for the industry overall has been audio-over-IP, a true blessing for us, incredibly flexible, high-quality digital I/O that cuts out a lot of destructive digital processes we once had to deal with.

Recording Bruckner with Jaap van Zweden. Photo by Aart van der Wal

You created Turtle Records two decades ago. How?

It was a chance meeting with Harry van Dalen at Rhapsody Sound in Hilversum, Holland. I was distributing dCS converters on the European mainland and he wanted to do a 96/24 recording with a Nagra-D and a dCS 904. I went to his place and found a stunning shop with playback tools that I did not know of. High End!! I was mesmerized, and Harry had many of my recordings, which I suddenly heard with “new glasses on.” Our ideas about sound and the business were strikingly similar, mine from the source—the recording world—his from the playback side in consumer audio, so the very same evening we decided to start something together. I would supply the infrastructure for recording, he the network in High End and his knowledge of true high-end equipment. And so Turtle Records® was born.

I am proud of the high standard we established in the first few years. People are still talking about it! With five partners, however, it was difficult to make it go as a business—perhaps impossible. Since 2008 the label has been completely mine, so maybe that will make it less impossible; I hope so! My other company, Edison Production Company BV, now harbors Turtle.

How did your relationship with Challenge Records develop, and how does it currently work?

Back in my Channel Classics days I was hired to do location recordings for Challenge. When I became an independent producer/engineer, they began hiring me on a regular basis. At some point they discovered my High End network and found a consistent difference in quality and USP whenever I led a project. Eventually Challenge created a brand for my productions, “HQ|NORTHSTAR by Bert van der Wolf,” and put it on the cover, much to my embarrassment; later on I started to appreciate the benefits. Because of the immense trust I received from my buddies at Turtle and the folks at Challenge, the HQ|NORTHSTAR brand is thriving and has become a solid platform for many artists. I also reserve the right to release those productions as part of my personal portfolio on www.spiritofturtle.com.

How else did you develop yourself on the business end?

For years I switched around between hardcore producer/engineer, label manager, and hardware sales/marketing (dCS, Sonodore, Avalon Acoustics Pro, Siltech, others) for High End brands worldwide. That gave me an edge over those who did only one thing, so I got job offers in many adjacent businesses.

Did that surprise you?

I was more surprised by the time lag in consumer response and awareness of my work. It was thirty years before I started to notice more interest. I have just been doing my job, not spending much energy on activities like showing up at award shows or (even) applying for them with productions. Lately things have drifted into new waters; I am doing many more audio shows and interviews in online magazines like this one. Of course, my discography encompasses about 600 recordings, so perhaps it was time for people to start noticing. I still have much to learn about the process.

Any advice?

Well, you’d better love it so much that you have to do it, otherwise it is way too hard!

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing independent producers like you and work like yours in the next 20 years?

It’s the changes in how people consume music. Already it is like water from the tap rather than an exclusive, valuable product.

It’s priceless in the wrong sense.

Exactly. Collecting and fairly distributing revenues is a real challenge for the industry, but if it is not settled soon, many will not survive. Not even me, I’m afraid. My method has always been to build a profile at the highest technical and artistic level. My wife used to ask me, “why can’t good be good enough for once?” But I was convinced that only spectacular is good enough to stay alive. It can be a burden both economically and emotionally. The investments in equipment and time have been staggering.

Will you recommend one or two of your most recent projects?

I am extremely proud of the integral Prokofiev symphonies for Challenge with James Gaffigan and The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Also my Bruckner with Jaap van Zweden and the NRPO (Challenge CC72702); Symphonies 1, 3, 6, and 8 are of similar caliber. The Turtle 25th Anniversary album I did for dCS (booklet here, downloads here or here) encompasses several genres and is a very fine example of what I am happy to give the world.

Bert van der Wolf, thanks again for sharing your thoughts. How’s your tennis these days?

Still playing, still coaching! Music and tennis can be quite similar, you know: timing is everything.


History

“The Spirit of Turtle Records®”was set free on a Summers eve in 1997. Although we had never met before, Harry van Dalen of “Rhapsody Sound Masters” and I were aware of each others work and in a sign of projects to follow, it was over the use of a dCS analogue to digital converter that I visited Harry’s store in Hilversum, Holland.

Kindred spirits

As Harry and I talked about music and recording it soon became clear that our ideas and visions about recording and reproducing music of all styles were so strikingly similar, that it felt like we had found our soulmate in sound and performance.

A new record label with a revolutionary scope

By the end of this chance encounter we were both convinced that we had to start something together in the music business and out of this positive energy a new record label was born with only one objective: “to capture the musical message of a real live performance, translating it into the frozen bits of a recording, and then translate it back such that the essence of this performance is communicated to the listener without any loss of detail and emotion.”

“Only the Music”

Like the dCS slogan: only the music…we wanted to create a gateway between the performer and the listener which, in the best case, appears not even to be there. Furthermore an approach of no compromise and unconditional effort to reach “the optimum” under all circumstances. This motto perfectly describes our shared vision for music recording and playback and we both realised it could only be achieved by combining great musical performers with state of the art equipment and revolutionary recording techniques. We knew from our own experience that the essence of a magic musical moment in a real world event is often lost in translation by porting it into the virtual world of loudspeakers, only firing pockets of pressurized air, but we were determined to get it right all the way through the electronic chain and during the creative process of working with the artists.

High End audio implemented at the source

Myself and my partners at Kompas CD Multimedia had great experience in professional recording tools and producing techniques and allied to the knowledge Harry and Martin Odijk from More Music had gained from many years in High End consumer audio. This gave us a unique opportunity to join forces and benefit from each other’s talents and connections. This synergy quickly led to a truly “High End” recording philosophy which still might be one of the best around and forms the basis for all recordings we do. They all are shaped after this first “blueprint” and carry the signature of “The Spirit of Turtle Records®”. It is due to the talent and combined effort of the people from the first hour that “The Spirit” became such a powerful guide for the path of the future.

A true Time Machine

Recent advances in mastering technology mean that the original “impulse responses” of halls and rooms can now be digitally sampled in high resolution and this along with the availability of digital techniques to shape the images and colours in a recording, have allowed us to breathe new life into Turtle tracks that originally were only available in stereo. Interestingly enough these tracks now give us the same emotional response as the stereo version did 20 years back, whilst the latter is more of a great memory. As if one steps into a time machine, the remasters and surround version somehow turn the sweet Memory into the actual feel of the Present we found!


A chaque fois l’écoute est d’un réalisme bluffant.

 

Bon, bon, bon , …
voilà, je me suis pris une claque magistrale aujourd’hui

Pour une fois il ne s’agit pas de “matos” (bien qu’il ait toute son importance), mais d’un procédé de restitution.je vous plante le décor :
Me voilà en route vers la Hollande pour rechercher mon NADAC qui vient d’être up-grader (encore un produit exceptionnel dont je dois vous parler …). J’avais fait le choix de faire six heures de routes pour une bonne raison. En effet, le distributeur pour le Bénélux de ce produit est un pro du son. Il est ingénieur du son, il possède son studio et en plus son label ! Il n’en fallait pas plus pour me convaincre de faire la route. Mais, car il y a un “mais”, il y a une cerise sur le gâteau ! Hmmm, j’avais remarqué que le studio n’était pas équipé de façon traditionnelle… Et en effet ! Me voilà dans une pièces ou trône des enceintes AVALON, des amplificateurs SPECTRAL et même des câbles audiophiles !!! Heeee, je suis bien dans un studio, “oui monsieur”, ok …  Il est vrai que les enceintes AVALON ont un gros potentiel. Je m’étais intéressé au produit avant de prendre TIDAL. J’ai préféré la maitrise de la céramique et de la filtration des produits TIDAL par rapport à Avalon, mais cela reste un sacré produit ! Quant à SPECTRAL, c’est vraiment pas donné, mais voilà encore une très belle référence ! la question était au bord de mes lèvres, pourquoi ce choix par rapport au matériel “classique” de studio. La réponse est bien entendu logique, pour la transparence de restitution ! Il ne voulait pas se “brider” lui-même. Seul ce genre de produit ou quelques produits de studio très haut de gamme pouvait lui donner la transparence et la dynamique nécessaire à ses enregistrements. Il me signale au passage que beaucoup de studios ne peuvent s’équiper de ce genre de système pour des raisons économiques ! C’est cher, très très cher … C’est un choix stratégique et de vie que Bert, (puisqu’il s’agit de son prénom), à fait. Ne pas s’axer uniquement sur la rentabilité, mais se faire plaisir et développer son métier bien équipé. Croyez-moi j’avais la banane de voir ce studio équipé en High end jusqu’aux câbles ! Petite précision, il travaille avec du câble High-end pour certains de ses micros. Il ne peut pas le faire pour tous, (même s’il le voudrait), mais pour lui la différence est importante !

Très très loin de la caricature, cette façon d’enregistrer et de reproduire la musique est juste exceptionnelle.

Me voilà dans la chaise du “chef” avec un système 5.1 prêt à en découdre ! Un système 5.1 !???
Nous plongeons au coeur du sujet. Bert réalise des enregistrements en multicanaux. Très sincèrement j’ai eu des craintes. Je m’attendais à une caricature comme certains enregistrements de concerts en Blu-ray. Mais il ne faut pas 30 secondes au NADAC pour distiller ses signaux pour se rendre compte que nous sommes devant une écoute exceptionnelle !!! Très très loin de la caricature, cette façon d’enregistrer et de reproduire la musique est juste exceptionnelle.

Très sincèrement, la seule fois que j’ai entendu un “truc” pareil, c’était au concert live !!!

 

Ce procédé apporte un naturel, une aération, un rendu 3D et une dynamique à couper le souffle. En fait, cela permet de créer l’ambiance sonore du concert avec les petites réverbérations des salles. Du coup, vous avez une écoute qui est complètement décontractée. Elle vous semble très naturelle, votre cerveau ne doit pas travailler pour “recomposer” comme avec un système stéréo. J’ai écouté des enregistrements de grosses orchestrations, un concert jazz enregistré dans un café mais aussi l’enregistrement d’un instrument seul. A chaque fois l’écoute est d’un réalisme bluffant. Là, pour le coup, je me demande si je vais pas faire le pas ! Ok, il faut un sacré matériel, mais le jeu en vaut la chandelle !
je vous invite à visiter le site de Bert : https://www.spiritofturtle.com/?v=d3dcf429c679 . Vous aurez toutes les informations. Sachez que vous y trouverez un “shop” ou vous pouvez acheter les fichiers un PCM ou DSD en stéréo ou 5.1 ! Il est aussi possible d’acheter des SACD.
La magie de ce système tient aussi dans le système de décodage réalisé par le NADAC http://nadac.merging.com . Si vous rechercher un DAC de haut niveau ou un système de streaming, ce produit peut très certainement vous intéressé ! Sachez que vous pouvez l’écouter dans mon auditorium, mais nous pouvons aussi réaliser des écoutes dans le studio de Bert si l’idée se précise !


For an artist a review like this is such a huge source of inspiration!

Marc van Roon: Inventions & Variations
Review by Mark Werlin – January 3, 2017

Classical listeners will appreciate the thoughtful treatment of Bach’s themes, and jazz listeners with open ears will enjoy the skillful work of an accomplished modern pianist in this inventive set of new music.

The presentation of 18th-century forms in a modern context can illuminate the long path of development of newer music—the piano preludes of Shostakovich are one example. But recording an album of spontaneous jazz improvisations inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s keyboard music is a risky proposition. In decades past, baroque and early classical music was reinterpreted with varying degrees of success by the Swingle Singers, the Jacques Loussier Trio, and the pianist and radio host Marian McPartland, whose Bach-inspired contrapuntal arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” was an audience favorite. The artistic risk lies in the possibility that a hybrid of ancient themes and modern forms may fail to bridge the distance that separates them.

Pianist-composer Marc van Roon builds such a bridge on the strong foundations of conservatory studies and considerable experience of jazz improvisation and composing. “Inventions & Variations” presents a rewarding journey to Bach lovers and jazz aficionados alike.

The keyboard works of J.S. Bach, his English and French Suites, Well-Tempered Klavier and keyboard concertos, course through the fingers of many contemporary jazz pianists. But does that music lend itself to jazz interpretation? Pianist Marc van Roon has something different in mind. More than half of the pieces in the set bear little resemblance to themes or forms of Bach. In the liner notes van Roon explains:

“I have labeled those improvisations that are closer to the text and score as variations and those improvisations that emerge more spontaneously… as inventions.”

In his “inventions” Van Roon is creating new European jazz with a greater than usual acknowledgment of historical antecedents—and not all of those antecedent composers lived in the 18th century.

Track 13, invention eight, played almost entirely as sustained block chords, shifts total centers freely, more Second Vienna School than Collegium Musicum Leipzig. Track 15, invention nine, draws on the harmonic language of Debussy and Messiaen and incorporates a climactic phrase that recalls the opening movement cadenza of Prokofiev’s second piano concerto.

The Bach-inspired variations do artistic justice both to the old maestro and his modern disciple. In contrast to French clarinetist Louis Sclavis, who intentionally performed acts of ‘violence’ on themes of Bach’s contemporary Jean-Phillipe Rameau (“Les Violences de Rameau” ECM 1996), van Roon doesn’t treat the material as grist for aggressive deconstruction, but more as a point of departure for thoughtful and meditative discourses. He doesn’t overly linger on familiar themes before developing his personal variations.

Marc van Roon performs on a 1925 Steinway that has been in his family’s care for more than a half century. This piano has a warm tone that is well suited to the baroque-inflected variations and to the modernistic inventions.

Producer-engineer Bert van der Wolf, known for his recordings of classical music on the Challenge Classics label, brings the same technical skill and aesthetic judgment to his recordings of contemporary jazz music. “Inventions and Variations” was recorded at a favorite site, Evangelisch Lutherse Kerk Haarlem in the Netherlands. The same location was used for Marc Van Roon’s previous record with his trio, Marc van Roon Trio: Quantum Stories, and the remarkable Tony Overwater Trio: Jungle Boldie. Presentation of the piano is neither too close nor too far, and clearly situated in a real acoustic space with a three-dimensional quality that DSD recording technology brings to home listening.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Werlin and HRAudio.net

http://www.hraudio.net/showmusic.php?title=11728#reviews


Stylems: Italian Music from the Trecento

ENSEMBLE SYNTAGMA

Future proof recording philosophy…

From approximately the mid-nineties of the last century and onwards, The Spirit of Turtle has been producing all projects in a higher recording format than the traditional CD and/or SACD. We even recorded the first 192kHz-24 bits production ever, a test project for SAMSUNG, soon complemented with DSD simultaneously in the workflow, and many productions exist as such in our archive. From 2005 onwards all our work is frozen in the bits at  352,8kHz 24bits DXD. Also many recordings are produced in immersive surround, of which actually only several were released as such for the mainstream market at the time. Even SACD stayed a niche for many years, so few people have had acces to the actual product as it was intended. Most of our productions only reached the consumers as stereo in a relatively “low” resolution digital format.

No restrictions by physical medium…

Now all that is changing rapidly with the possibility of downloading audio files and playing them with highly flexible and ergonomically clever designed media players. In essence one only needs a decent PC and a relatively modern D/A-converter, with either USB and/or Ethernet, to play original master files in a wide range of formats. Of course, as always, the inherent quality also counts for this playback chain, but at least the possibilities are not restricted by a physical medium, so everybody can have acces to the original source of great recordings.

First time releases in High Resolution stereo and 5.1 surround…

We would like to present to you the first 3 of many productions to come which only appeared as traditional CD when released initially. Two productions with the magnificent Isabelle van Keulen and Ronald Brautigam with music for violin and piano by Grieg, Elgar, Sibelius, Respighi, Strauss & Rota and Ensemble Syntagma with “Stylems”, Italian Music From The Trecento, both now all in High Resolution PCM and DSD formats and in 5.1 Surround.

May The Spirit be with you!


Devine absurdity…

Maestro James Gaffigan described the symphonic music of Sergei Prokofiev as “a combination of absurdity and the Divine”…The music developing and shifting between poetic and mellow sceneries, easy to the ear, into crushing, even frightening mechanical violence and all this with the most imaginative orchestral instrumentations.

007 Avant la lettre…

The amount of references to Prokofiev’s symphonic music in the traditional 007 James Bond movies are numerous! It is fair to say that his music has been a major inspiration for the producers and film composers and set the tone for the whole franchise. It speaks for the genius Prokofiev that his music has such strength and appeal that so many musical fragments have been copied almost literally.

Rare performances…

Working with the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra and James Gaffigan on these recordings is a real treat and we feel proud to be part of this 3 year adventure. All the symphonies, even the second version of the fourth, and all carefully rehearsed and performed on multiple occasions to make this document as good as possible. Strangely enough not many versions are available of this music, but they deliver a true audiophile experience.

The first volume of this series symphonies, symphonies NO. 3&4, has ended in the top 50 of best recordings of 2015! We are excited to present to you volume 2 featuring symphony NO. 6 & 7.


Grand Quintetto

Mozart’s famous Gran Partita, well known from the pivotal scene in the film Amadeus, in a wonderful arrangement for Oboe quartet and Fortepiano by a contemporary fellow musician C.F.G. Schwenke.

“It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God…”

These words, spoken by Antonio Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, fictional though they may be, are nevertheless accurate in conveying the fascination continuously inspired by the work they refer to.

Originally for 13 wind instruments…

The report, written by the critic Johann Friedrich Schink in his Literarische Fragmente:

‘Today I have heard a ‘musique’ for wind instruments, in four movements, by Herr Mozart—sumptuous and magnificent! It called for 13 instruments, viz. four horns, two oboes, two bassoons, two clarinets, two basset horns, a double bass, and at each instrument sat a master. Oh! What power! How sumptuous, noble, magnificent!’

…now for a Quintet

In order to replace the thirteen instruments of the original version, Schwencke chose to combine two new complementary media emblematic of this period of chamber music: the fortepiano and the oboe quartet. Indeed, the second half of the 18th century saw the advent of new instruments alongside the emergence of new musical genres. The fortepiano differs from its predecessor, the harpsichord, in that it uses a mechanism of hammered instead of plucked strings, resulting in a greater dynamical range. What today is called the Classical oboe has only two keys, like the Baroque oboe, but distinguishes itself from the latter through its narrower bore and smaller holes. As a result, the Classical oboe is characterized by an easier and more extended upper register and a sonority that can in turn be soft, light, clear or pungent. These expressive sound qualities, particularly adapted to the role given to the oboe in the emerging genre of the symphony, were also fully exploited in a new type of chamber music: the oboe quartet. A younger sibling to the string quartet, it combined the oboe with a string trio composed of a violin, a viola and a cello. This genre succeeded those of the sonata with basso continuo, and the trio sonata, which both fell into disuse. Almost two hundred oboe quartets were composed in Europe between 1760 and 1800. Together with the Harmoniemusik, they embody the essence of chamber music written for the oboe during that period.

A Masterpiece

Schwencke’s arrangement is a masterpiece of orchestration, a rendering of the original score that is both faithful and richly coloured. He did not merely transcribe the material from one instrument from the version for thirteen to another from the quintet. The melodic material has been ingeniously redistributed amongst the different parts, resulting in particularly varied sound combinations. While the bassoon solos inevitably occur in the cello, or in the left hand of the piano, the oboe, clarinet and basset-horn phrases are variously attributed to the oboe, violin, viola or piano, depending on the circumstances. In addition to its melodic role, the piano naturally ensures harmonic support, thereby ef ciently replacing the four horns and the double bass of the original version.

Quatuor Dialogues is Vinciane Bauduin, Ronan Kernoa, Annelies Decock & Mika Akiha


Album of the month, now 25% discount

OP, music from Oscar Pettiford by the Tony Overwater trio, Ack van Rooijen and Ernst Reijseger

DSD in it’s infant shoes

This month we’d like to present to you the digital release of one of the most special albums from our Turtle Records catalogue.
A recording from the first period of DSD recordings which we performed in collaboration with the Philips SACD team. As DSD was in it’s early stages we used prototype MOD (Magneto Optical Disc) recorders by AUGAN (Holland) which were able to put the raw DSD data down in combination with prototype dCS converters, but we needed an off line rendering process to perform any edits. This custom made rendering application was developed by the team of Philips Nat.Lab. Eindhoven for us on the basis of a so called EDL (edit decision list). We performed the edits in the studio in the PCM 192kS/s-24bit domain and the EDL was used to process the raw DSD format we delivered. This process of auditioning edits in DSD through PCM is often still the same these days, although in the more equivalent to DSD format DXD. Now all of this  is incorporated in standard workstation applications like Pyramix by Merging Technologies (CH), the company that recently introduced NADAC. Several of our early Turtle Records productions we recently re-mastered from the original DSD recordings, but this one is straight from the old Philips master.

OP won the most prestigious Dutch award in the business, the Edison Jazz award 2001

The Tony Overwater trio with wonderfull additions from the legendary Ack van Rooijen (flugelhorn) and Ernst Reijsiger (cello) who doesn’t need any introduction as well known ECM and Winter & Winter artist. A winning team and a well deserved Edison Award!


For over a hundred years the recorded arts have been tightly connected to and restricted by physical media and delivery formats. To obtain and enjoy a relatively high quality version of a musical performance, one had to turn to either a Vinyl record or a Compact Disc, and more recently to Super Audio CD and BLU-RAY disc. These formats have their limits however, both in bandwidth and maximum playing length and almost never can harbor the recording in its original quality.

The master recording compared to the delivery format…

The Spirit of Turtle has been producing all projects, from approximately the mid nineties of the last century and onwards, in a higher recording format than the traditional CD and later SACD. We recorded the first 192kS/s-24 production ever, soon complemented with DSD simultaneously in the workflow, and many productions do exist as such in our archive. From 2005 onwards all our work is frozen in the bits with 352,8kS/s-24bit (DXD). Also many recordings are produced in immersive surround, of which only several where released as such for the mainstream market at the time. Even SACD stayed a niche for many years, so few people had acces to the actual product as it was intended by the artists and producers. Most of our productions only reached the consumers as stereo in a relatively “low” resolution digital format.

dCS-Vivaldi-DAC_Front1NADAC-FrontRight2-White-Shadow

dCS Vivaldi                                                             Merging Technologies NADAC

No more limitations by physical media…

Now all that is changing rapidly with the possibility of downloading audio files and playing them with highly flexible and ergonomically clever designed media players. In essence one only needs a decent PC and a relatively modern Digital to Analogue converter, with either USB and/or Ethernet I/O, to playback original master files in a wide range of formats. Of course, as always, quality also counts for this playback chain, but at least the possibilities are not restricted by a physical medium anymore, so everybody can have acces to the actual source of great recordings.

Instrumental in the development of digital converters…

The Spirit of Turtle staff have played an instrumental role for already longer then 25 years in the development and implementation of professional audio gear and digital converters in particular. We are long time consulting partners of Data Conversion Systems (UK) and Merging Technologies (SUI) and have been working on several professional and consumer converter models by both companies. Our workflow contains also dozens of units of both brands and we consider them as leading in the field because of their impeccable temporal response and natural timbral quality. For many years we have been distributing professional dCS gear on the mainland of Europe and from the summer of 2015 we are distributing NADAC by Merging Technologies in the Benelux. Both companies always have been close to each other with highly complementing products in professional audio and mutual respect.

Straight from our studio into your own living room…

We believe that, because we so extensively use these products in our workflow, dCS and Merging Technologies converters communicate our artistic craft the best by far and when you listen to our recordings through these units, you essentially can hear the same quality as we experience in the studio. This is rather special, seen the fact that for many years a master recording was quite distant from what the consumer would perceive in the living room. Now with NADAC and dCS converters you can have the music straight from our studio into your own living room in full immersive High Resolution quality!