Wilson–VTL–Transparent–Beethoven

My best sound at the 2011 SSI? No doubt about it, it was the late Leonard Shure performing Beethoven's Op.109 Piano Sonata courtesy of the immense VTL Siegfried tubed monoblocks driving even more immense Wilson Alexandria X2 loudspeaker via Transparent Audio cables in Coup de Foudre's large room on the Hilton Bonaventure's mezzanine floor.

The Beethoven recording was made by Wilson's Peter McGrath (shown in the photo) in the 1970s on his Mark Levinson ML-5 analog recorder using a spaced pair of B&K omnidirectional measurement microphones. The transfer to 24-bit/88.2kHz WAV files had been carefully and lovingly done by Bruce Brown of Seattle-based Puget Sound and will eventually be released as HDTracks downloads. Shure's performance is extraordinary, with huge dynamic range; he makes the piano—a percussion instrument—sing; his awesome technique makes the passage near the end of the work, where the left hand is playing rapid arpeggios in the bass, the right hand in playing rocking chords in the midrange, and what could only be a third hand is picking out a melody in the treble, sound effortless. Art Dudley adds that for the most part, he was too overwhelmed by the music's beauty to write down much of anything, so he left it to me.

Shure took the listeners on a voyage of musical discovery that made further listening superfluous. Fortunately, this was the last room I visited at SSI and the experience provided a fitting climax to what had been a great Show.

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