Vincent Bélanger Plays MBL
On the morning of the last day of the show, I went around one more time, looking for anything that I might have missed, and re-visiting some exhibits that I particularly enjoyed. To this end, I stuck my head in the MBL room, hoping to get another listen to the small MBL126 speaker that had impressed me earlier. Alas, the speakers playing were the big ones, but Jeremy Bryan of MBL said that if I came back in 5 minutes, he would have a special listening treat for me.
I went backand, boy, was he right! What followed went beyond anything I had previously experienced at the show. The system was the same high-end all-MBL setup that I had heard before, but it was supplementedif that's the right wordby Vincent Bélanger playing the cello, adding the live sound to the recorded one of his new CD release, Là, that was on sale at the show (Fidelio Musique, FACD032) Rather than Live vs Recorded, this was Live plus Recorded. I was seated front and center, about four feet from Bélanger and his cello. The sound was magnificentand so was the artistry. Perhaps because of the tonal neutrality and omnidirectional radiation pattern of the MBL speakers, the blend between the live and the recorded sound seemed quite natural. Bélanger then invited me to come up and play a few notes on the cello, to experience the vibrations of the body of the instrument against my chest. Although I've never played the cello, or any other string instrument, this is not the sort of invitation I get every day, so I couldn't very well refuse. I even managed to coax the cello to make some not-too-sour notes, to the applause of the audience.
Yes, it was quite an experience, and a fitting end to another highly successful Salon Son & Image.