Gonzales recently responded to a tweet about the mic setup used to record Solo Piano II:
Hello @chisatoohori The microphones were a pair of SCHOEPS . That’s it! Piano and fingers also very important
— chilly gonzales (@chillygonzales) November 13, 2012
With over a thousand moving parts, no two pianos are alike, and even the same piano at different times can be different, so capturing the sound the way the artist wants people to hear it is a very demanding task. Post-processing can also enhance existing colour and remove/mask some unwanted noises. The type, number, quality and placement of mics all have a bearing on the final recording, but are all overridden by ambient noises – especially on an upright.
Some people like piano and player noises, and some find it distracting (see: Glenn Gould’s humming). Gonzales records with an upright, which is unique unto itself. WIth a Grand, the mics are much further away from the pianist, which means less ‘ambient’ noises, such as: breathing, the noise of the piano action, pedal sounds, and keyboard clicks. With Gonzales’ Solo Piano albums, there’s an added layer of intimacy that you won’t find on many other piano recordings. On the original Solo Piano, the piano used (1960′s Yamaha U1) was much older, and had some characteristic ‘old piano’ sounds. Solo Piano II uses a much newer piano (C. Bechstein), which produces far fewer ‘unwanted’ noises. Although more masked on Solo Piano II, you can still hear some characteristic breathing and keyboard clicks, which is absolutely wonderful!
What do you think – do you think that additional noises add extra intimacy, or distract from your listening pleasure?