Stereophile's Test CD 2 Track 5

Track Information, Track 5

[5] Igor Stravinsky: L'Histoire du Soldat (excerpt) (ADD) 0:56
Performers unknown

Recording Venue: Wilmington Music School, Wilmington, DE
Recording Date: 1968
Recording Engineer: J. Gordon Holt
Microphones: two Sony C37 cardioids in ORTF configuration
Recorder: Ampex 601/2 ¼" open-reel recorder at 7.5ips (NAB EQ)
Transfer to digital: Nakamichi 1000 R-DAT, ReVox A77 Mk.IV open-reel recorder
Digital Transfer Engineer: Robert Harley

"ORTF" refers to a technique devised by the French broadcasting organization (Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française) whereby two directional ("cardioid") microphones are angled at 110 degrees and spaced about 7" apart, the average distance between a human being's ears. The two microphones basically encode the directions of the voices and instruments by the different loudnesses they pick up. In itself this would give a very narrow stereo image—"fat mono," one writer described it—but by spacing the microphones apart, a little time information is added which ensures that the image extends across the full spread of the loudspeakers. (Sound reaching the microphones from the left, for example, will reach the left-facing microphone approximately 0.7ms before it reaches the right.) This is but one of a number of "purist" techniques, all of which share the characteristic of being able to capture a "real" soundstage, so that the listener's loudspeakers seem to disappear.

Featuring much smaller forces than the immensely scored ballets which preceded it, L'Histoire du Soldat ("The Soldier's Tale") was composed by Stravinsky in 1917. The music illustrates a poem by the French writer Charles Ramuz in which a violin-playing soldier on leave is tempted by the Devil to trade his instrument for a magic book. One thing leads to another: though the soldier at one point wins back his violin from the Devil at cards and marries a Princess, he ultimately loses everything dear to him and ends up in the Devil's thrall. This brief excerpt, featuring the rude sound of the trombone and a mellow trumpet, opens the "Royal March" tableau.