Can recordings adequately recreate the “space” of a live performance? Leonardo Balada



Leonardo Balada

The idea and exploration of space in my music has changed in importance over time, as I explored different media. In the sixties I composed a number of works in which I tried to use the closeness or far distance of some instruments on the stage to my advantage. The results were disappointing. I concluded that this had been an effort on my part to compensate for the weakness of the actual musical ideas.

Curiously in future works, especially in operatic works, spatial concepts became very useful, thanks to the failures of my previous attempts in concert pieces. Since in many of my works I have been the creator of the story, and writer of the libretto as well as the music, I was able to conceive situations in which the position and relationship of the singers on the stage became an important tool. Of course, those spatial elements became lost once the work was recorded. The thrill of the recent recording of my opera Hangman, Hangman! turned into a frustrating experience in some instances. A couple of moments were. In one moment the Mother enters the stage in a very comical cartoon-like manner, but the music in the recording can’t make up for the void in the action. In another scene the Sheriff, Hangman and Johnny sing staccato notes that are supposed to bounce from one character to the other at a distance, as if they are passing each other a ball. All that made less sense in the recording.